After I became paralyzed, one of my greatest concerns was that I was not going to be able to participate in the lives of my children like I once did. I could make a list of activities in my head, and in my mind put a giant FAIL stamp across them. One of the first scenarios that came to my mind was the day my daughters get married. The mother of the bride is supposed to stand first to let the crowd know the bride is coming. How was I going to do that now? I had visions of making my daughters sad at their own wedding because I wouldn’t be able to do my part. What about traditions, family activities, vacations….all of the things I knew my role in but had now been thrown into a tale spin? Sure, we could learn to do new things, but do you just throw away everything your family loved to do before? Things that I can’t do anymore?
I remember my first holidays. I couldn’t lift the turkey into the oven. I was limited from cooking anything that was too complicated because I couldn’t reach most of the things in my kitchen…except for the lower shelves of the fridge and the front burner of my stove (as long as it was a small pan that I could see in). Then Christmas came and I couldn’t reach anything to decorate my house like I always had. I couldn’t help much with the tree without running over the strings of lights and busting them up, or hang anything beyond the lowest branches. I felt like I was the holiday complication.
Now lets fast forward to today. I am getting close to my 5 year anniversary of becoming paralyzed. I am still a newby to many, but to others, I have been on this journey for awhile. I am comfortable in my new life and it feels like my normal now. The days when I walked seem much more of a distant memory to me. The pain of my reflection in a mirror no longer stabs me in the heart. Life has moved on and I learned something very precious in the mean time.
I learned that my family didn’t care as much about what I did, as me being with them in those moments. They were happy putting the food in the oven or stirring the dishes, as long as we could be together and enjoy the time cooking. They wanted the same recipes, but they didn’t mind making that happen physically as long as I was there for them emotionally. They wanted the same Christmas decorations, but they didn’t mind listening to my directions. They want us to still do the family things that we loved to do, and although I can’t do everything, they are just thrilled to have me laughing and enjoying the moments with them. I vividly remember a particular tradition that we loved to do. We had a favorite state park and it had a creek with some fun rapids. we would sit and bump down the rapids squealing with delight as we bumped over every rock. Well, I cant do that anymore. The first summer the kids asked to do that again, we talked about me not being able to do that and that it would be different. I told them I would be so happy if they wanted their daddy to take them and go without me. They wouldn’t hear of it! They said that they couldn’t enjoy the day if I wasn’t with them. So we went and I squealed for them to be careful as they bumped over the rocks. In almost 5 years, I can only think of a couple things that we can’t do anymore (like more complicated hiking) but overall we make it happen. It looks a little different as to who does what, but my family is just so happy for me to be with them having a good time.
You know, I think our relationship with God is very similar to this. Somehow, I have it in my mind that I must do all these things to please Him and show Him that I am being a good Christian. But…I know myself. I have many spiritual and glaring disabilities and I can feel that I am failing Him over and over. However, I
learned am learning that God just desires my presence. He loves having a relationship with me and He longs that I will desire Him. He doesn’t need me to perform for Him. He longs for me to just desire to be with Him.
My outward body changed but my heart and desire to be the best for my family did not change. My heart desires to be the best for God, but I know that I fail. I am just so thankful that love goes beyond abilities. I am thankful that my family just enjoys my presence…and so does my God. You see, enjoying someone’s presence isn’t about what they do for you. It is about who they are to you. I enjoy my family, and my God. I am so blessed that they enjoy me too. They both have my eternal gratitude, my loyalty, my love and my heart.