A few months ago I shared with all of you about my oldest daughter Samantha’s battle with what we believe to be optic neuritis. In 2009 this crushing disease permanently robbed her of a portion of her vision, and in June of this last summer she experienced another flare- up. We aren’t sure about lasting damage with this recent episode, and may not know for many more months what the end prognosis will be. It has been an infuriating and exhausting process, and we have more questions than answers, but we have come to believe her main problem lies in some type of autoimmune disorder. Unfortunately, that particular area of medicine can get very murky. With lots of unknowns.
I know that bloggers in general have the reputation of oversharing. That isn’t something I really do. I share only what I want to share, because I am a pretty private person. But today I have a few things I would like to share with you.
Not all of Samantha’s story is mine to tell. It is mostly her story, and she deserves the right to tell it. There are parts though that are uniquely my own, and this is one of the parts I want to share. Over the past few months I have had many people tell me how brave I am. I appreciate their concern and support, really I do, but I want to talk about perception versus reality for a minute, because if I am brave, here are some of the things these people didn’t see.
These people didn’t see the woman who sobbed uncontrollably on the floor of the shower as she begged God to take away her daughter’s suffering and instead give it to her.
These people didn’t see the woman who was unable to carry on even the briefest of conversations, because she couldn’t find her voice to do so.
These people didn’t see the woman who sat up all night holding her daughter’s hand while together they cried not knowing whether or not in the morning that daughter would be able to see anything ever again.
These people didn’t see the woman so frozen in fear that she felt paralyzed to be able to do some of even the most basic things.
I am not telling you these experiences so that you can feel sorry for me. I am sharing this because during those moments of what felt like utter and complete despair, there have been miracles as well. Some didn’t involve people, but some did. Many of those people who delivered these miracles didn’t even know they did so. Sometimes I didn’t know who they were and they didn’t know me, but they were able to see and identify suffering, and without hesitation, reach out to ease that suffering. Not everyone was that way, and these last few months have been a real eye opener as to who really had our family’s back.
So here is why I am writing this. Our world is full of so much pain and suffering, and much of this suffering is done in private, because we are afraid. Afraid to let people see what and who we really are. Or afraid to seem less than perfect. I have been guilty of this way of thinking, but here’s a news flash that really isn’t all that newsworthy: None of us are perfect….
There has been only one perfect person to walk on this earth, and for me, as I have waded through these past few months of grueling motherhood, I have felt the love of my Savior Jesus Christ so very clearly in my life. More than ever before. Sometimes God has seemed far away, but not Christ.
This isn’t a conversion type of post either, I am not selling religion to you, but I think some day when each of our stories are shared, we will see and understand so very much more than what we currently do about those who are around us.
But why wait for THAT day?
How about we start today? Right now. Drop the grudge. Drop the facade. Drop whatever we need to, in order to love freely, and help others. Or to receive the help we need.
Last week I sat waiting in a pediatric cancer ward with Samantha. We watched the young residents of that wing as they bopped around with their shiny heads and bright personalities. Each so clearly had a light. A purpose. People who loved them dearly.
I saw a kinship in the worried faces of parents as they wheeled their children to and from this wing, and I had a renewed desire to be a better a person.
To help relieve the suffering of others.
To drop my own facade.
I don’t need to be perfect to do any of that. I just have to care.
That is why I am writing about that woman. Me. The one who has been frozen in fear. I know better than anyone how very weak I am. Perhaps someday I will be stronger, but I am not going to wait for that day to help others. So what if by writing this some may think, “Wow! She is a real mess!”
Yep. I am.
And sorry, but I bet you are too…
It’s not the “perfect” dish that we deliver or the “perfect” words we say to someone who is suffering, it is the fact that we reach out with genuine concern and care. And those who have suffered are pretty dang good at doing this aren’t they, because haven’t we all met suffering head on in some way?
Anyways, from the bottom of my heart, I truly thank those who did reach out to me.
Thank you to the woman in the store who held my hand while I cried in the cereal aisle. I don’t even know your name.
Thank you to the man who helped pick up the contents of my purse off the gas station floor, because my shaky hands weren’t up to the task.
Thank you to all of the others.
You were perfectly positioned to help, and you met the task without fail.
Next time I see that same need, I promise I won’t fail either.
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