What If…

What if I never get better, Momma? What if I always feel like this?

My son asked me this last night, mid-anxiety attack, through tears and stomach pain.

My heart hurt and my eyes stung with tears as I rocked him and prayed.

We got another bill from the hospital this week. Seven months later, tens of thousands of dollars, and it seems like they are just getting started.

What if we can’t pay all of this off? What then?

This morning, I woke up to an email from a grief-stricken mom who lost her child last year.

My 13-year-old, who was suffering from extreme anxiety and depression, took her own life in December 2016.  I was not brave enough to take her out of school and regret it daily now.
What if I had homeschooled her?
There have been so many “What-If’s” around here lately.
All of them hurt like hell.

What If…

What if my son never really learns how to read?
What if he can’t get a job and support himself as an adult?
What if I die too soon? Who will care for these boys?
And the absolute worst –

What If I Had…

What if I had known earlier?
What if he had started therapy sooner?
What if I had done something else with his medicines? Would he have still ended up in the hospital?
What if I had just done it all differently? Would she still be here?
The “What If’s” of mothering children with unique needs are plenty.
They haunt us all day and especially at night.
They suffocate.
They are heartbreaking.
And they linger – taunting, lying, cruel.
I am learning, slowly and with great sadness, that this is a broken part of our humanity.
Lies have been whispered in our ear since the Garden – always, always in the form of questions.
Did God really say?
Our hearts break wide open, all the time, under the crushing strain of “What If?”
And the only way I know to survive it is this…
We pray.
We cry.
We look for the good, even when it seems hidden far away.
We love.
We worship.
We laugh.
We mourn.
We grieve.
We work.
We rest.
We pray.
We take the next step, and then the next, not looking back or too far ahead.
It is the small, often forced steps that carry us.
It is in taking the next step, and the next, that we silence the paralyzing questions and instead, find a hope that has been flickering there all along.
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all. – Emily Dickinson
I pray for you and your children this morning.
I pray for your hearts and your steps.
I pray you know that no matter how seemingly small or inconsequential, your mundane, everyday, wish I could just get a break steps matter.
I pray you know that you are not alone.

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  1. Thank you dear Shawna, for once again, sharing your heart with such raw sincerity. I desperately needed to hear these words this morning, after a gut wrenchingly hard day yesterday. With bruises and scratches left from the aftermath, I am struggling to find any hope in or current situation. Thank you for being a place of encouragement and a voice of truth that nods along and “Says, yep, me too!” but then keeps pointing me back to Jesus.

    Praying for you and your sweet boys!

  2. Nicole Taulman says:

    We were advised by the state agency testing our son for eligibility for services when he was 2 years old to NEVER get a medical diagnosis, to just address each of his individual delays. When he was going into the 3rd grade we were advised by the school that we had to have a medical diagnosis to continue services under an IEP. That was when we pulled him out of school to homeschool. Reading your story makes me so thankful for the advice we received early on! Our doctor always diagnosed him as neuroligical delay. That kept it under medical.

  3. Thank you. I was desperately needing words of hope this morning. Sometimes it seems impossible to go on but as you say “It is the small, often forced steps that carry us.”

  4. Thank you, I definitely needed this today

  5. I thought of you when I got home on Friday from picking up my boy from the school counselor. When I was a bit bewildered as I thought he’d been doing better. And then this morning, when I knew the storm was brewing and his tears and anger came out at church. I was so grateful for your presence here. Knowing I am not alone.

  6. Thank you. I am dealing with a son with depression, social anxiety and a host of medical issues. We have feared that he would do something extreme this year and have been so happy that we homeschool him and can watch over him night and day while he grows stronger. Yet, the what if’s haunt us. This post is the gentle reminder I needed.
    Blessings, Dawn

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