He laughed, and his eyes twinkled. I felt a mix of happiness and ache – How long as it been since I have seen my son’s eyes light up like that?
Watching my son, interacting with his friends, truly enjoying their company, tolerating the noise – such a blessing.
I was overjoyed.
And, I was sad. I felt the loss of all the times he doesn’t, he won’t, he can’t.
Overjoyed and sad – both happened, almost simultaneously.
A mixed blessing.
The doctor said it’s getting worse. The inflammation may be affecting his brain, his heart, his other organs. She prescribed a more serious course of treatment.
She is very, very good with my son. She has figured out how to ask him questions in a way, that actually allow him to formulate an answer most of the time.
“Does it hurt more than your hip, the same, or less than?” – instead of, “Describe the pain in your ankles.”
“The pain you are having in your chest… does it feel like the sharp pain in your hip, or more of an ache, like when your legs hurt from walking too much?” – Instead of, “Is the pain in your chest a sharp pain?”
“Has the pain in your hands been going on for a week, a month, or more than one month?” – Instead of, “How long have you had this shooting pain in your hands?”
She is working very hard to work with his brain. She is beginning to understand that an open ended question will not be answered, and that the more she asks them, the more he will withdraw and stop interacting all together.
This doctor is quite literally, a God-send. I have shed many tears of joy and relief in our finally finding her.
And, as she asks him these questions, my heart tightens inside my chest. “This is real. This is serious. This is my son, on this table, having to answer all of these questions about all the pain he is in.”
A mixed blessing.
Somewhere along the way, I think I got it all wrong.
Although I am not sure I would’ve actually said it out loud, I have lived as though I believed that if God was really “in” something, it would be easy. That the doors would all fly open (because God opens doors don’t you know), and his power and mercy would be on display in the happy ending, the healing, in the pretty spiritual package, all bundled up nicely and accented with a bow for Jesus.
That if God is working, it should be easy, effortless, obvious.
I am seeing more and more that it’s just simply not true.
Because sometimes, God is working more in the loss than in the gain.
Sometimes, God brings blessing in the form of a free wheelchair, exactly like the one you have been trying to figure out how to pay for, even though it means your son will be in it.
Sometimes, a doctor can come in with all the answers, and still not be able to really fix a thing.
Sometimes, my son can have fun with his friends, and still be in pain all day.
God shows up in the dirty and the messy and the broken, and sometimes it stays messy and broken, even though He is right there.
He is right there, and it still hurts like hell.
I am learning that I was wrong. That God’s presence does not equal easy.
That in the suffering and the struggle, not despite it – please hear my heart…
IN the suffering and the struggle, He shows us over and over again that we cannot do this alone.
IN the struggle, we find Him closer and more present.
IN the pain, we find more of Him and less of us.
IN the grief, we find glimpses of eternity, and a genuine longing for a world without all of this hurt.
‘Mixed blessing’ is an inaccurate description.
Instead of mixed blessing, I would say a deeper blessing.
A more profound blessing.
A blessing that binds my wandering heart to Him.
A blessing indeed.
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.