“Our job is not to mold our kids but to unfold them.” Jon Courson
I lean against the window and stare into sapphire winter skies. Days have passed since the night I heard those life-changing words. Still, I can’t get the doctor’s point blank statement out of my head,
“If she’d landed just a bit harder, she’d be in a wheelchair or dead.”
Heavens, what can unfold in no time at all. This proved true the night a gymnastics accident left our girl’s head throbbing and her sobbing scared over being “numb and tingley.” The accident didn’t look scary; she didn’t fall awkwardly or in any way that made me suck in wind or jump out of my chair. But, we don’t mess around with numb and tingley. So after the ER trip, x-rays and a CT scan, we discover the critical bone -the odontoid – that protects her spinal chord is malformed. This bone protrudes from the second vertebrae, and the malformation means part of her spine is not as protected as it should be. Without this extra protection, any jarring of the neck can cause numbness. Or worse.
This leaves us numb and jarred into a new reality. That night, we fall asleep clinging to gratitude,
“Thank you, God, for using this accident to bring hidden truth to light.”
“Thank you, God, for protecting this always-in-motion girl in every tumble and fall.”
So, we add scary words like neurosurgeon to our vocabulary while taking gymnastics out. Losing gymnastics is a hard thing for our active girl to accept, this saying goodbye to a love and a dream. And to be honest, there are hard things for this mama to accept, too.
When the slightest fall or wrong move could be catastrophic, how will our new normal unfold? And how do I embrace the unfolding when it looks different than I imagined?
My friend Alli comes over to pray with me, and she tells me she knows this struggle. Her son has Aspergers, a form of autism. She holds her coffee cup and my eyes saying,
“This is the blessing in the ordeal, Kristen. In our humanness as parents, we naturally want to steer our children’s interests towards our own. With news like this, we get an unmistakable barrier to our plans. For my son and your daughter, options are limited. And this fact forces us to get out of the way as God’s plans and interests make themselves known.”
Yes: Life’s limitations are His invitation to change our expectations.
Life’s limitations unfold God’s intentions.
Regardless of the winds tomorrow’s weather brings, God’s character remains. In His grace, God protects our girl today as much as He did last month and last year. Our new normal shows what has been true all along: God holds and unfolds.
Still, saying goodbye to my own expectations hurts.
Mary knew all about that. Gabriel told her she’d give birth to the Son of the Most High, the One who would sit on the throne of His father King David. Knowing this, did she not picture Him wearing fine robes and crowns? Did she not smile at the thought of Him being revered and respected– right along with His earthly parents? Oh, she had plans for Him alright. But with time, she had to release those plans. God willed Jesus to be everything Gabriel promised, but it unfolded in a way Mary couldn’t imagine.
God wills my daughter to be everything He promises, and it is my job to unfold His purpose for her. When I accept this truth, my faith unfolds. In the ordinary and the ordeal, I find peace by unfolding my hands and allowing my daughter to unfold in His.
I smile out the window. The crazy Colorado winds pick up, but my soul stills. I remember our girl’s name is no accident. She is Faith, our unfolding Faith.
How has life’s limitations unfolded God’s intentions for you or your children?
By Kristen Strong, Chasing Blue Skies