I knew something was wrong the night he was born.
His cry was weak. He had a strange birthmark on the back of his head that ran down his spine like a symmetrical inkblot. Later, he turned blue in the crib beside my hospital bed. My husband simultaneously suctioned him and pulled the call button. Up he went to the NICU.
The neonatologist eventually came downstairs to tell me my son's x-rays revealed some problems with his anatomy and he needed to do more testing. I promptly asked for more painkillers and went to sleep in light of some terrible and uncertain news.
Not only did I not know if I could move forward, I didn't know if I wanted to.
My son was born with a rare chromosomal abnormality. He has medical complications affecting his brain, spine, heart, and kidneys. He is also severely developmentally delayed. The day he was diagnosed, I was devastated. All the hopes and dreams I had for my child, my family, were swiftly taken from me.
I had a choice to make. Would I move forward in unconditional love, acceptance, and medical care-giving of my son? Or, would I fight against the life I'd been given and be overwhelmed with anger and resentment?
I chose love. It's a fight. I choose love over and over every day. This what that looks like for me in the midst of incredibly difficult circumstances.
When it's hard to move forward, you must first grieve.
Not only is it okay to be sad, it's necessary. Putting on a happy face, shoving away pain, and resolving to not become a negative person can only lead to anger and resentment over time.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. - Matthew 5:3-4 (NASB)
To move forward, you must first move towards the pain. Allow yourself to feel the weight of sadness, to weep and mourn. Read through the Psalms and follow along as David cries out to God in his pain. Acknowledging sadness and allowing God's love and truth to minister to you will bring comfort.
When it's hard to move forward, you must learn how to receive.
It's hard to ask for help, but sometimes you can't move forward without it. I can almost guarantee friends and family are looking for practical ways to help. If you know what those practical needs are, name them. Receive help from others and cling tight to the promises that God will provide everything you need as you venture into unchartered territory.
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:19 (NASB)
When you begin moving forward, celebrate.
In the midst of difficulty it's hard to see good things happening, but you can begin to thank God for little blessings. A beautiful sunrise, a phone call from a friend, the peace and presence of Christ. As you notice these things, start noting and sharing them with others. Celebrate and be grateful.
in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. - 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Slowly, prayerfully, and patiently I moved forward into this new life that God has given me.
My son spent his first two months fighting for his life in the NICU. I didn't know if he would make it out of the walls of the hospital. He did. Though our lives have many medical ups and downs, I know the One who was gone before me. The One who loves me unconditionally and sacrifically. He teaches me to do the same.