Two things converged recently that provided a moment of clarity. I don’t know about you but that seems to be much of the story for me. I will go along and go along and go along as if I am learning NOTHING and then clarity comes (or comes again) and I think, “Of course it is that way.”
Our son finally achieved his Eagle Scout a week ago. He had worked on this goal since he started as a Cub Scout at 7 years of age and was in and out of Scouts as his disabilities allowed over the years. He started in one Troop but ran into challenges that seemed insurmountable. So we switched him to another Troop and he continued his journey.
There were times along the way that I wondered if it was possible for him to finish his course. He wondered too. But he was determined. He kept inching along, at his own pace, taking on challenge after challenge.
Some of the challenges he faced were typical – distractions from social media and gaming. Some were not typical – gifted/learning disability issues that made his school work all consuming at times so he had little left to give to Scouts, or social struggles that left him on the periphery even when he tried to participate.
He prepared for his Board of Review like he would be taking a final. His anxiety was a bit high. We all wondered what they would ask… how they would respond… would he be able to shine through despite his challenges. He struggled at the beginning, anxiety high, but then he settled down and had a thoughtful conversation.
What would he add to the Scout law if he could, they asked. “Humility, because without humility none of the other things matter.” One of the leaders commented that he could add persistence because he had demonstrated such persistence in earning his Eagle. He passed with flying colors. We received an email saying he “did a fantastic job with the Board.” We could not have been more proud of him.
The other thing that happened this weekend is I finally put up my victory wall. We moved this summer and life has been pretty crazy with work, getting Caleb off to his freshman year at college, holidays and other stresses. This morning I decided it was time to put up the victory wall. I carefully removed and unwrapped these memories, these teachable moments along the way. And as I did I remembered each race, some alone, some with family or my dear friend. Each race was the culmination of months of training. Each was the final reward for a long journey of preparation.
And I was reminded that the sweetest things in life often come after long, faithful effort, after overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Then you get to the end and you are changed. You have learned that you can. You have learned that you will. You are forever different because you did not quit. You achieved because you got up and took another step forward.
This is how Caleb achieved his Eagle Scout. This is how I run the race. This is how we journey with hidden disabilities. We get up each day and take the steps before us. We forget those painful losses behind us. We keep our eyes on the goal (Philippians 3:12-14). We trust that God is faithful and is training our hands for battle (Psalm 18:34) and will make us what He wants us to be (Philippians 1:6).
I still hit moments in our race when I think the challenges are insurmountable… when I don’t know how we will take the next step. But each time God faithfully shows Himself strong and able.
Our children will have different dreams, depending on their strengths and challenges. But seeing them achieve a dream, whatever their ability, is one of the sweet gifts of this life. I pray God allows us each to see our children achieve their dreams, according to His plans for them.