Kids. What wouldn’t we do for our kids? How many dreams would we fill for them if we could?
Hudson got a letter in the mail about 2 months ago letting us know that he is eligible for the “Make a Wish” program, which is available to any child battling a life-threatening illness.
A couple nights ago, he and the big kids sat down with me to google “Make a Wish” and we watched Youtube video after video of all the fun wishes that kids had received. Some went to Disney, some got new rooms, some had a favourite person come and meet with them, and they were all very sweet.
The thing is: when you get a “Make a Wish” letter in the mail, you have this terrible realization as a parent that if the hardness of the journey isn’t real yet, it suddenly becomes terrifyingly real.
You have a heart-sinking-like-a-rock realization that you are now the parent of a child who is battling for their life. This is not how you typically imagine your parenting journey will be when you are planning your coming babies nursery. Not how you would imagine your parenting journey when you are thinking about RESP’s and planning which schools they should attend. Not what you think about when you prepare to return to work after your mat leave.
It’s a weird, weird place to be. To be confronted with your child’s mortality every day. Those of us who are younger suppose that it is a normal place for some people to be- after all, the aged in their retirement homes are supposed to be grateful for each day they have and try to “live life to the fullest” because they don’t know how much longer they will have.
But it’s not typically how you start your parenting journey.
And so a slow slide has happened for me in my soul. I’m just realizing it now.
After we got the letter, a friend of mine reminded me of what a beautiful AWESOME gift it is that we’ve been provided with- imagine! Any wish Hudson’s wants will come true when he’s ready! He can even take the whole immediate family to Disney World if he wants. Crazy!
But the only wish I’ve really wanted isn’t on the list. I’ve wanted Hudson’s health so badly. I’ve wanted for this exhausting circle of doctors, specialists, needles, coughing, medicines and supplements to be over. I’ve wanted to see Hudson strong, growing, running, going to school like a “normal” kid. I’ve believed my goals were noble, right, good and I’ve spent most of my time petitioning God for Hudson’s healing. It’s what I think about day and night, and it’s what I want more than anything.
” A large crowd was following Jesus.
He turned around and said to them, “If you want to be my disciple (my follower), you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.
And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.
“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ (
“Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.
“Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”
With chronic illness, our hearts can wander into dangerous territory:
Coveting- because we wish we had the health of others.
Greed-because even if we are well for a time, it’s never enough.
Selfishness/Self-pity- because we are the ones who need more than others. It’s not fair.
Pride- because we don’t want to ask for help, we are tired of always being the one to ask for help.
Deception-if God really loved us, He would take this “cross” of illness off our shoulders and let us skip and run in the meadows…. therefore, does He love us?
Fear- looking into the future and feeling like there won’t be enough. Enough time, enough resources, enough patience or enough hope.
My heart has stayed into all these places at times, because the desire I have for Hudson’s healing burns within me so intensely everyday. But it has become a distraction. It has become a goal that has had me following Hudson, instead of Jesus.
I have made living life the goal. Staying alive and being well while being alive have become the goal.
And you know what? It feels hollow. Empty. Like something is missing. That’s because it’s missing something more important- Jesus.
Jesus wanted us to make our relationship with Him the priority- and THEN He would provide life, even life that was overflowing.
Why? Because how hard would it be to keep a marriage alive with all the best bits of love (the mystery, romance, surprises, conversations) if you only married for the things that the other person offered you? What would you do if they could no longer offer you those things? Couldn’t it eventually destroy your relationship?
So following Jesus around these days, looking for a “healing-hand-out” so that I can get on with my normal life, and be a normal family again is exactly why I had to read this scripture this morning.
Following Jesus is about being with Him. Nothing held back. No secret manipulative, negotiating motives. Just being with Him because.
Because He made us. Because He will be the ultimate prize when we die. Not the stuff, the health, the experiences, the travel, the family, not even the very awesome heavenly home or rewards He promised us…. Just Him.
And the real catch? When I peel back the layers of what I really want, more than anything, I want peace and happiness in my home. I have allowed Hudson’s illness to rob me of peace and happiness in my heart, because I set my eyes on his health above all. (Hard not to, when you see your kids struggling to breathe- so don’t think I’m over here self-condemning– I get that this is strange and so tough.)
But I’m brought back– peace and happiness always are a place that is hidden inside our hearts, and are not given to us by our external circumstances. Because even when everything is perfect, we can be freaking out inside that the perfection will end someday and we don’t want it to.
So the inner bit of us matters more than the outer bits do. And the only One who has ever lastingly affected my inner-bits has been Jesus. When I am with Him in my heart, I do have peace. I do have joy. I do have a face like steel that can face an uncertain circumstances and know that they do not dictate my present state of being.
Hear Jesus’s words: If I make Him first, I will finish the tower (accomplish the goals I set out), win the war (we will have peace and victory), be the salty salt (be a desirable and good mom, friend and pastor.)
If He is first, I will get to walk with Him as He walks with me carrying our crosses together. For I do not serve a God who is unwilling to experience pain, heart ache, and sorrow with me.
In fact, He suffered more than I will ever suffer. And He trusted His Father to the very end.
Oh, how He loves us!
Why shouldn’t I trust Him? And why shouldn’t I pray with, model and train my children that a relationship with Jesus is the lasting prize- (oh! how their faces light up when they get to hang out with Nana or Grandma or Papa- they prefer the people over gifts every time…)
So, walking with Him allows me to sink fully into the place of thankfulness, excitement and gratitude I want to be in when I consider “Make a Wish.” How cool, how insanely awesome it is to be in a world where people care about kids like Hudson! We are blessed, blessed, blessed! But it’s nice to know deep down that the “Wish” isn’t the goal, being with Jesus each day is. No one can take that, and that wish never ends….
I want to finish my life well– and as I run this marathon, it’s nice to have the goal re-clarified– it’s not what I can get from God, it is being with God Himself.