Guilt. It’s what I felt every waking moment for the first two years of my son’s life. I’d convinced myself it was my fault our son had suffered brain damage while I was pregnant. The truth is, a virus I had at a crucial time of development, changed Calvin’s entire life.
I remember walking through the grocery store with Calvin in my arms. He was six months old and looked like a newborn. He didn’t wave his arms or look around. His body was floppy but stiff whenever he tried to move. I was sure everybody was looking at me and wondering what I’d done to this boy. In reality, probably nobody was thinking that. But the guilt and remorse that covered me interpreted everything around me as affirmation for the incredible, stomach-sickening remorse I felt.
As a mother I could not find one drop of joy in my son’s life. The whole situation made me sick. Every time I looked at him all I could see was my lack of protection. Illogical but so real. People would say, “You’d never wish him away.” And inside I’d feel even more sick guilt because every morning I’d lay with my eyes closed, wishing I was waking from a bad dream.
The pain of my son’s disabilities seemed never-ending. And when people comforted us by telling us, “special needs kids bring so much joy”, I wanted to tell them there was never going to be joy in his disabilities. Joy in his life? Yes. Joy in his disabilities? Never.
Calvin is four. By God’s grace, the truth has won out over my false guilt. Most days. And the most surprising fruit is growing in our family. It’s a secret grace that’s been growing unsuspecting in the hard ground of disability. And these days it’s in full bloom. Joy.
The trite word I never wanted to hear about. I was adamant it could not be found in so desperate a situation.
It’s small changes. I’m proud to be pushing him around in a wheelchair. When people don’t understand him, I rejoice that we (his family) get the inside scoop on him. I’ve never met another person who has changed me so profoundly or a family in its entirety.
When I see how he blesses his brother and three sisters, our hearts overflow. Darryl and I know it is indeed unique to have five kids having a hay-day on a bed while one child is getting treatments and clearing his lungs. When one of our children has been hurt in any way, they all head one place. Calvin. He greets them with an upturned face. Seeing their shape, recognizing them by their voice and opening his mouth to kiss them and comfort.
Many mornings I will come down to his bedroom to find his sister cuddled next to him, reading him stories or drawing pictures “with” him. The joy of his life continues to exponentially increase in our family. During family devotions we talked about the lame man being healed and ventured into the hope of Calvin being healed completely in glory. Our daughter responded sadly, “But I love him just the way he is!”
If you are in a pain-filled place where joy seems not only impossible but non-existent, turn to the Lord. Ask Him to open your eyes to the joy he is weaving into your life. He hasn’t erased the painful parts of Calvin’s life but he’s woven joy intrinsically through each day. Joy has come in the morning for us, even in the middle of the darkest night.
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