I remember the first time I took the girls out of the house in their wheelchairs. We went to Target, and as we navigated getting past the masses, the stares began.
Looks of pity.
Glances toward then quickly away.
Mommas pulling their littles close, hoping their childlike state wouldn’t let their supposed awkward questions out unannounced.
Anticipating these reactions, I had done what my flesh always does- fixed their hair as best as wheelchair head would allow. Put them in cute little dresses with matching shoes to boot. I had done everything I could to speak to a watching (okay, staring) world one thing:
Don’t feel sorry for us.
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ- provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.”- Romans 8:16-17
Happy and healthy.
It’s a phrase most just let slip off their tongue when talking about a baby yet to be born.
Once the child is here, if nothing unexpected occurs, often times a text, email, or social media post cries out gleefully, “He/she is here! Both momma and baby are happy and healthy!”
It’s as if everyone is breathing a sigh of relief in saying, “Everything went as planned. Life can continue as we thought it would”.
You want to know a reality?
I sent the same text the day the twins were born.
This week at Hope Heals camp, I met several families who could have spread that message the day their loved one entered this earth- only to experience its brokenness years later.
The truth is, whether at birth or days, months, years later- at some point- we are all going to come face to face with the reality that this world is not our home.
At some point, dreams are going to shatter and we are going to have to decide what to do with all the shattered pieces- or rather, who can put them back together.
Thanks be to God, over time, our family has realized that maybe the pieces were never meant to be put back together in the first place. Maybe- just maybe- they were meant to be shattered in order to be given to the One whose Plan A was this life from before the beginning of time.
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ…the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable bestow the greatest honor“.- 1 Corinthians 12:12, 21-23, emphasis mine
On the last night of HH camp, at a beautiful banquet put on by so many members of this diverse, gorgeous Body, these truths were displayed in such an intricate and intentional way- and I would be amiss to not attempt to pay them forward to you.
Instead of receiving the typical stares of pity, our girls received beaming smiles of admiration and love.
Instead of glances of, “I’m sorry”, or, “Bless your hearts”- Hugh and I were given hugs and nods that reminded us yet again what a holy privilege it is to be equipped and entrusted to be Ally and Bailey Grace’s earthly parents.
Because of Christ, the way it was meant to be all along.
Friends, God wants so much more for us than happy and healthy on this side of heaven- He desires eternal wholeness for our souls and sometimes-rather, most of the time- this comes through suffering.
…provided that we share in His sufferings in order that we may share in His glory (Romans 8:17)
The good news?
When experienced in community- when shared with the Body- suffering can be a beautifully intimate thing.
Because of Christ, we no longer have to fear suffering for in all things, God is working.
Because of Christ, we do not have to lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:16)
Because of Christ, we are free to live not for, “Me, me, me” but for, “Thee, thee, thee”.
Because of Christ, we can rejoice in sufferings and trials and unexpected circumstances because we know that ultimately, He is making all things new.
This world is not our home.
This world is not our home.
This world is not our home and one day-if you are in Christ- all our empty places and unmet longings and restless hearts will be met and satisfied face to face with God Himself.
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”- 1 Corinthians 13:12
Thanks be to God, in Jesus, our Hope does not disappoint.
My prayer for each of you today is that God would expand your heart to want more than merely health and happiness in this life. That your flesh would not cheat you of the joy that is offered in temporal discomfort and pain in this life in order to free you up for more of Him and less of yourself. I pray you would look at this word, “disability” and instead of thinking about Ally or Bailey Grace or someone else whose body displays the truth about us all- I pray you would seek to see the disability of the soul within each of us and that this would spur you on to cry out to the God who loves each of us in the midst of our own frail humanity. His love will never fail you. He is working.
At all times.
In all things.
No matter what.
To Him be the glory.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”- 1 Peter 5:10