A friend recently asked me a two-part question that I have been pondering for days now. She asked: “How has your story of walking through lament – and joy in that lament – prepared you for this season of craziness with the coronavirus? How has it helped you be a better mom?”
It has taken me days to respond to her simply because I haven’t had time to truly sit and think. Even though I have all the time in the world, so to speak, that time is also constantly filled with noise and distractions, and that makes being thoughtful a challenge.
But today, while the boys nap, I’m taking the time to thoughtfully consider her question.
I believe that walking through all that we did, with a terminally-ill child, affected me permanently in a few ways, and those ways have been incredibly helpful as we walk through this strange season of life.
- I’ve learned to manage – or let go of – my expectations.
When we received Tori’s diagnosis our world was shattered. Instead of scrambling to put all of the pieces back together, we took it one piece at a time and waited to see what shape God wanted our lives to be. This was not deliberate on our part but I’m so thankful it played out this way: it has helped me not focus on my plans and expectations nearly as much; rather, I’m now more willing to be momentarily disappointed and surprised by the twists and turns in life.
After all, if we hadn’t experienced Krabbe, child loss, and all that goes along with it, we would (most likely) not have the twins and we certainly wouldn’t treasure each day with them like we do now. We wouldn’t find joy in the smallest things they do. In this case, our lament continues to help us find joy.
- My priorities were refined and I learned what was truly important.
This applies to every area of my life. By learning to let go of what really doesn’t matter, I found out what does – and should – matter. In this way, being at home hasn’t been too challenging because I am with my family – that’s what is most important.
- My perspective has become more focused on the eternal, not on present troubles.
When we experience life through the lens of eternity, we see that these momentary troubles (2 Corinthians 4:17-18) are just that – momentary. And, if we truly believe that “to live is Christ, to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21) then death isn’t something to fear. It’s not just a part of life – it’s what brings us to the reality we were meant to experience. I could say so much more about this, but I won’t do that here.
- I’m much more grateful because I’ve learned to look for God at work in every situation.
When I reflect on the things that happened immediately before Tori went to Heaven, I cannot deny God’s hand and direction. And the same goes for the weeks leading up to the stay-at-home order: God prepared my heart (and mind) for this, though I didn’t recognize it at the time. This ability to reflect and find the good has increased my joy – and faith – greatly and I doubt that it would be as refined had I not experienced great loss.
- I choose to believe what God says – that He’s good, loving, kind, sovereign – even when I don’t understand how it applies to my circumstances.
After walking through all that we did, and seeing God work in so many ways, how can we NOT trust Him? Trusting Him in the smallest of ways removes burdens from me and allows me to be free from worry, doubt, fear, and so much more. If I take Him at His word then I am more free to experience joy in the midst of trials because I’ve learned to wait with expectation to see how it all plays out. He has never failed me, so why would He fail me now?
Trials can either strengthen or weaken our faith, and I’m so glad that I chose to trust the Lord through it all.
All of this has made me a much better – though certainly still in progress – mother to my precious boys. It has made me a better person, in general. Life is full of ups and downs, of unmet expectations, of undesired circumstances. We can choose to allow them to derail us or we can willingly – and expectantly – ride out the twists and turns, knowing that God is in control of it all. I choose to ride.
By the way, you should check out what this friend of mine is doing. She is such an example to me and I live vicariously through her adventures with her family. You can see it all at Adventure Family Journal.