Yesterday, the girls and I left one of their physical therapy appointments, and I had one thing on my mind: shoes. Not just any shoes, mind you. Shoes that fit their sweet, unique, tiny feet. We have tried pair after pair, and because of the way their feet were created, there just aren’t many pairs that will even slip on and stay on, much less feel comfortable to them. After our third stop, success was found-our Cinderella moment-the shoe fit!
Later on last night, we went to dinner as a family. Hugh and I ate way too much Mexican food, picked up ice cream to-go; and after feeding the girls their dinner, the four of us lay on a blanket and watched a movie- bellies and hearts full. It was a good, good day.
I began thinking, yet again, of this concept of normal as I lay in bed.
You see, I’m not sure much is “normal” about our life according to the world’s standards. There are so many details about our day yesterday that others could have seen as lacking. If I let my mind go there, I too could have found many crevices of discontent. Finding shoes for girls that do not walk. Eating dinner at the restaurant quickly to rush home and give our almost two-year-olds thickened bottles. The list could go on. If I change my thinking, however, do these moments have to be bad—or can they just be different than the norm? Sometimes, our joy is stolen simply because we are basing our satisfaction on our neighbor’s story instead of seeing the beauty in our own. As we lay there giggling on that soft blanket, I would not have traded my Friday night with anyone else. Whatever your night looked like, I hope you felt the same. For you see, the key to contentment and trust is in loving and living fully each of our moments. In a sense, I believe we must redefine good in order to be fully satisfied in the life God has loaned to us. Did you read that slowly? This life- it is on loan. These breaths- they are His to give and take away. Our moments- they are not ours. Even this theory of good…a false mindset. For you see, if He allows it, it has already been filtered from His loving hands. If it happens, it is good. Maybe not in the here and now, yet that’s not where our focus lies. Do we not prefer eternal goodness over temporary giddiness? Beyond that, there are some moments that if you really take a step back and look at them, they may be wholeheartedly awesome right here, right now. Don’t let someone else’s version of normal and right steal away the joy that is yours.
Our household has been redefining normal for about six months now. In the beginning of this journey, we fought the details of God’s plan with tooth and nail. We wanted something different; we attempted to manipulate the plan and did everything we could to justify it. What did this bring us? More discontent. More frustration. More confusion. It’s not only exhausting to try and make someone, or two someones in our case, be someone or do something they are not made to do…it’s futile. God has said that each one of us is, “Fearfully and wonderfully made” in His image (Psalm 139:14, Genesis 1:27). Beyond that, He warns us,
“Woe to him who strives with Him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?”- Isaiah 45:9
I believe so many parents of kids with special needs are utterly broken and completely burnt-out and exhausted because they believe that being a good parent to their children is working, working, working in order to get them to do things that the world would say brings quality of life. But what does God say? Does God define quality of life with performance? Of course not! In fact, He claims the opposite. It’s what Christ came to do in the first place- to free us from feeling like we have to work for our freedom and for our salvation! For those of us who struggle with performance-based identity and works-based acceptance, this can be almost unfathomable. Yet God. He allows us to break free from the molds that society has attempted to place us in in order to show us who we truly are…an identity not based on us but on Him. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with going to therapy and supporting your child on in those settings, let us not forget that the purpose is not to change them into someone they were never meant to be, but to cheer them on as God unfolds the person HE created them to be, whoever that may be and whatever that looks like. The important thing to know is that milestone or not, neither lifestyle is “better” or “worse”; both are God’s choices and something to rejoice in and celebrate. In fact, what a freeing thing is it to celebrate ALL people around us- the souls within them- without trying to micromanage how that is portrayed. In ways, this is the very nature of the Gospel. We choose to look not at what someone seems to be lacking; but instead, we see the heart behind the earthly tent. We don’t look to actions, however seemingly good or bad; we choose to look at the WHO behind it all. This is what God did for you, for me, when He chose to take on our flesh at the cross. He based His love for us not on what we did or didn’t do; but on the fact that we were His children whom He dearly loved.
On this Saturday morning, I want to encourage each of us to redefine good. I want us to look at the moments ahead of us, open our fists, however clinched they may be, and give back these details to the One who gave them to us in the first place. I beg us to celebrate the souls of those around us without trying to mold the external into what we think the world wants us to. There is so much to be celebrated. In death and in life, He has overcome. He has intricately woven the details of this journey together; and He created each of us uniquely so that we could marvel at the creativity of our Blessed Creator. He whispers into the depths of each of us, into the heart of who we truly are, and He says, “You are enough. You are perfect exactly the way you are. I created you this way for a reason.” Today, may we celebrate this freeing truth with unabandoned trust and joy. May we not look to those around us or even our fleeting emotions to assure us otherwise. It is good because He is good.