My 14-year-old, very perceptive son, Elijah, remarked after my mother, his grandmother, passed just a few months ago. “ Dad, how can you be so strong?” His question came from his observation of my attitude and actions during the illness leading up to and death of my mother. While everyone was weeping over the loss of Mother, my mind was focused solely on getting My Dad and family comforted and through this difficult time. Making sure that their grieving process would be unhindered.
I have thought about this many times since then. How could I be so strong? I could say something trite and super-spiritual right now like, “It’s the strength of the Lord that God gave me, Son.”(cue angels singing and halo shinning) but that would be the cheesy Christian thing to do. I truly believe that the strength I modeled and displayed came from having gone through years of having to be courageous and strong while our special needs son, Jake, struggled to learned to do the simple things that we all take for granted – to crawl, to walk, eat, and speak. Seeing him survive seizures, hospital stays and just plain daily life!
Always having to factor his condition in every aspect of our lives. Doctor’s appointments, therapies several times each week, feeding him when he won’t eat, dressing him because he cannot dress himself. Changing his soiled clothes and bedding when he doesn’t make it to the restroom. The stares from people who pass by him in the grocery store. Tying to answer his question, “What’s wrong with me?” The understanding and acceptance that all his life he will live with us, his parents, and not be able to enjoy a family of his own, because even at the age of 17, he has the mental faculties of a 7-year-old and will need our constant supervision and attention. All these experiences and realities have worked something in me. Strength-beyond fear and emotion. For Jake’s sake, I HAVE to walk in strength and courage. I would be ill equipped and weak without all these experiences.
Don’t get me wrong. It HAS been the strength of the Lord that has gotten me through all of that and is helping me deal with the loss of my Mother. But that strength did not appear “supernaturally” in this case. It was built day by day, each time I cried out to God “Why?” and didn’t get an answer or at least not the answer I wanted. I had to learn to trust God that I can make it through whatever comes my way because He IS with me. Zechariah 10:12 says, “I will MAKE them strong in the Lord and they will walk in his character.” Verse 7 says, “Their children will see it and be glad”.
I didn’t ask for it, and frankly who would? But God has worked it in me so that My son’s and those around me will see the character of God.