Surreal. Synonyms of surreal include unreal, bizarre, unusual, weird, strange, freakish, unearthly, uncanny, dreamlike. Have you ever looked back on your life or parts of your life and just felt like it was surreal? I’ve felt that a lot in my life, not only with the crazy circumstances of my brother’s death but now, as I watched the news story of my son. I often think, wow, this is my life, this happened and I would never have thought this would be my story.
For at least the last decade I’ve been praying to God for opportunities to share my story, in order to bring purpose to my pain. As I wrote in my other blog post, The Fire Inside, I’ve put myself “out there” and I hadn’t really seen many opportunities come my way. On January 30th, a friend was telling me about different opportunities she was getting to share her story and while I felt so happy for her, I began to feel frustrated with God. I looked through all of my pictures of Josh and I cried. I cried out to God and said, please, please God use every ounce of this pain, every ounce of my sweet son’s suffering, for your glory. USE IT!
The next morning I woke up to an email from a woman who had read To The Parents Without a Happy Ending. She told me she felt hope and inspiration reading it. I looked up and said, “Thank you God”. Out of curiosity, I looked at my blog stats for the day before and the day of, and for no reason, they had spiked into the hundreds. I smiled, and felt that God was encouraging me, that He was using Joshua’s story. I got a fire burning in me and I called a complete stranger in another state to ask her about a similar project she had done in years past collecting donations for NICU baskets. She gave me some starting points and I set up the gofundme page and cried, as in under 24 hours, we had already surpassed our goal for $1,000. I honestly never expected that.
On a whim, I decided to email a couple of local news stations about our project and story, really never expecting to hear back. No longer than 40 minutes later, a reporter at nine news emailed back wanting to chat. I was over the moon excited. Not only was this a way to get the word out about our NICU baskets, but it was a small way to honor my sweet little warrior. I felt like God was proving to me, that I can try, try, try as hard as I can on my own and “push” for certain things to happen, but if God wants it to happen, it will. I can do as much or as little as I can, but ultimately God is the one who will open doors and close doors.
It’s hard to be patient for God’s timing. I think of Joseph in the Bible, and how he must have thought, really God? You showed me dreams of my family bowing down to me and I get sold into slavery and then get stuck in prison for doing the RIGHT thing? I wonder how many times Joseph doubted God’s plan for his life.
I’ve learned to hold everything in this life, including the ones I love, with hands open, not closed. I’d love to give myself the false security that I will spend the rest of my life with my husband, but I know that’s not a guarantee. I would love to have the security in knowing that I won’t have to bury another child, but that’s not guaranteed either. Sounds scary right? IT IS, but I do have an ultimate promise from God, that He will be with me WHEREVER I go and whatever I go through. This year, I am making more of a conscious effort to not fear. When I get those anxious thoughts, automatically I start reciting Joshua 1:9, our anthem verse for our son’s life. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
So here’s to living with hands outstretched and living in the only true security we have in Christ, that no matter what happens here on earth, it will all be made right in heaven. No matter what happens during my life, God will be with me. No matter what hell I have to walk through, God will bring purpose out of my pain. Here’s to a year of fighting back against fear, and living boldly in the confidence I have in Christ.