My son lived for 81 days, and for each of those 79 days, I traveled anywhere from 40min to an hour and a half, each way, to see him in the NICU/PICU. There were no off-days on weekends or holidays. Rain or shine, heavy traffic or light traffic, babysitter or none, sick kids at home or cars that broke down, I went. I didn’t want to miss a day of my son’s life, whether we were there all day or only a couple of hours. In many different ways, that journey tested my perseverance more than anything else had in my life up until that time. I reached a point, I don’t remember when, exactly, maybe sometime after a month, where I was just done. Tired. Burnt out. You see, it wasn’t just the commute back and forth or the constant juggling of my other two kids to see who could watch them that day.
It was the emotional toll. This all was preceded by months of uncertainty and frequent doctors appointments and ultrasounds in my pregnancy. We thought when he was born, it would get somewhat easier, but it opened up an even more difficult journey. It was the never knowing what news I would get when I walked into those doors. Gearing myself up to see him in whatever condition he might be in that day. Seeing your child suffer day in and day out, it really takes it’s toll. If all of that wasn’t enough, it was having to always “be on” when I was there. Many times, I couldn’t just BE with Josh, I would be interrupted multiple times each day by doctors and therapists and nurses updating me, and I would be researching and contemplating each next step in his medical journey and questioning if it was right for him.
My point in describing all of this, is my perseverance was running thin. Even the days I felt I couldn’t go any more, my gas was on empty, I went. Isn’t that what perseverance is, continuing to do something even when you don’t feel like it? My love for Joshua propelled me. He was my driving force. There were days I felt depleted but I went, and Joshua made all of it worth it.
Last year, in honor of my warrior, I decided that from the date of Joshua’s birthday, March 23rd until the day he entered heaven, June 11th, 81 days, I was going to do something intentional every single day, no breaks. Thinking back to our hospital journey and it’s work in developing perseverance in me, I wanted to give myself this challenge. You see our perseverance needs practice. The Bible says in James 1: 2-5, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” I decided that for 81 days I would go for a walk every single day. I didn’t put a distance minimum on it, but most days I walked at least one mile or more. The point was to do something intentional every single day for the length of my son’s life.
81 days of walking and I learned that walking is a huge therapy for me. If I can get away for a kid free walk, I often end up processing a lot and releasing a lot of grief. Also, when I sometimes take the time to not listen to music or a podcast but just be silent, I’ve felt God’s love and been able to pray more freely, as well as wrestle with Him about Joshua. Even now during this pandemic, when I don’t want to get out and walk, almost immediately it lifts my spirits when I do.
Maybe I can challenge you to practice your perseverance. Maybe you will challenge yourself to read your Bible every day for a set amount of time that is significant for you. Maybe it’s walking everyday or journaling or whatever you choose. Maybe you will discover something about yourself or about God. For me, it was about honoring my son’s life and our journey. Joshua’s life also developed perseverance in my faith. There have been many times I didn’t want to worship God and I’ve questioned his role in those 81 days of Joshua’s life countless times. A part of our faith is following God even when we don’t feel like it. Sometimes I’ve felt like the toddler walking behind God whining and questioning everything He does and throwing a huge fit and even fighting Him at times. God is like any loving parent though, and God can handle any questions or wrestling we throw at Him.
All of us are getting practice in persevering during this time. I like how Tim Tebow has posted videos of himself “embracing the grind”. We all have to do that at times in our life, and all of us are forced to during this time. May us all get practice in perseverance during this pandemic and remember that God loves you more than you can possibly imagine, and He hasn’t gone anywhere.