Sunday, September 2, 2012

Things Only Hoped For

My mom has asked me several times through the years if I ever think of Elise as she would have been if born without a brain injury.  She confesses to periodically succumbing to these mental pictures of her granddaughter, whole and healthy.  I, on the other hand, most interested in self-preserving, have always pushed these thoughts far out of my mind--not wanting to complicate my already ailing heart concerning my only daughter.  

At least, that is, until recently.

Over the past few months, I have become irritated with what seems to be feelings of self-pity creeping into my mind.  My eyes filling with tears at even the glimpse of a little girl  Elise’s age.  One day, it is a mother and daughter combo coming out of a nail salon after pedicures.  The next day, it is merely the sight of a rack at Target holding precious nightgowns with scrunchies attached--(something that leaves me with visions of slumber parties and birthday sleepovers that will never happen).  Why now?  How did my well-guarded emotions get all stirred up, only to leave me sad and aching over something that has been my reality for going on 8 years?  

I’ve always been reasonably successful at avoiding self-pity.  This spirit of thinking is an ugly monster that will destroy a person, because it is powerful and willing to stick around for as long as you give it a home.  Trying to stay steps ahead of this debilitating attitude can be tiring at times, but well worth it.  The smallest bit of effort to tackle feelings of personal defeat can result in a happier, more satisfying life.  A life that is free from the fog that self-pity can create, obstructing your view of the life that God wants you to live.  I have always chosen to work towards contentment, which is definitely an uphill climb.  But, climb I have. 

I would be a liar if I claimed that I wear a smile each day because I am completely satisfied with my life.  Truth be told, my smile does, at times, veil a heart-stopping personal secret that shocks me about myself.  

I desperately want another daughter. 

This fact alone isn’t something new, just the overpowering feelings that now accompany it.  Of course, I’ve always looked toward a day that I could have another baby daughter. I have a yearning inside of me to raise a little girl to be a strong Christian woman.  I am in the midst of bringing up my boys to be faithful Christian men, but there is so much that I want to instill in a daughter that I can’t teach my boys.  I’m certain that it would be challenging and more fun than I can imagine!  

The hope that I would someday attend dance recitals, watch her cheerleading from the bleachers, and have someone to read “Little House” books to has always been there, perhaps even serving as a buffer to my sad and disappointing feelings concerning Elise.  It’s almost as if I have been saying that it’s okay that I have a child like Elise, because someday I will experience some sort of healing through having another daughter.  

These thoughts have been hiding deep in the recesses of my mind, just waiting for the perfect chance to pop out, as if saying, “BOO!  I’m not through with you!”  

Now, don’t get me wrong… I’m not at all afraid of what the devil has in store for me.  I’m more annoyed than anything.  

“Go AWAY!”, I cry out each day.  

My voice alone does nothing.  I am powerless.  

My mom listens to my cries ... but she cannot help me.

My husband listens to my cries … but he cannot rescue me.  

Even my own brain hears my cries ... but it is not equipped to give me the peace that I so desperately seek.  

Psalms 40:1 says,  
“I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.”

Being a follower of Christ, I undoubtedly know that He is the only one who hears my cries and can truly lead me away from this place of unrest, guiding me toward where I need to be.  

For so long, I have tried to convince myself that if I had another daughter, somehow it would ease the disappointment and pain associated with what happened to my sweet Elise.  Surely, it would fill that place inside of me that longs daily for a mamma/daughter relationship that I know can’t exist with the daughter I already have.  

Isn’t that what we all tend to do, though?  Whatever our problem, whatever our pain, we are sure that the solution lay in attaining something new or different -- chasing after our own versions of the answer.

The problem with this line of thinking, though, is that it isn’t from God.  I have become keenly aware that the act of having another girl, (even though I could have 5 more boys in a row anyway!), in actuality, has nothing to do with my feelings concerning Elise.  Yes, I would be a mother to a daughter in the ways that I so often miss with Elise, but raising another healthy daughter is not going to make Elise’s situation any less tragic.  She will still suffer from a severe brain injury.  I will still care for her needs, carry out her daily therapies, go to various doctor appointments, and continue the daily struggle of providing her with a good quality of life.  Yes, another baby girl would bring extra happiness into my life, but, by no means, would it erase the disappointment of the loss of a regular life for Elise.  

I was talking with Lane, my 9-year-old, a few weeks ago on the subject of disappointment.  I can’t remember why we started the conversation, but, as always, I found myself teaching my son about something that I needed to begin applying to my own life a little more.  I explained to him my personal disappointments regarding many things through the years, including Elise’s brain injury.  What I wanted him to understand was that no matter what our situation, however complicated or troublesome here on earth, it just doesn’t matter when compared with what is waiting for us in heaven.  I ended our conversation by telling him that when I set my eyes on eternity, it helps me to deal with the disappointment of today.  

There’s no free ticket out of pain.  When it comes to trying to put your own broken heart together, people tend to look at what they can do personally to fix the situation.  I can have another child, no doubt.  There is a 50/50 chance that I can have a little girl.  My chance of achieving that perfect picture of what I want my life to be all by myself is 0%. 

We all have our “if only’s” that will lead us to ….

If only I had more money…
If only my spouse paid more attention to me…
If only I looked like her/him
If only I had more time...

If only I had another daughter...

So, how do I wake up tomorrow without that nagging feeling of what could have been?  How do I continue to live each day free of the “if only’s”? Another daughter may ease my symptoms associated with grief and heartache, but I want a medicine that will heal.  The one and only place to start is in the Word of God and prayer.  One needs the other, and they will provide the perfect combination to cure this ailment called discontent.  
Matthew 7:7-8 says, 
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

I will not continue to ask God for another daughter.  Instead, I will ask Him for His guidance toward becoming more obedient and finding the joy, peace, and contentment that I know He has available for us all.  

When I was a young girl in the 80s, wearing a French braid in your hair was a must.  Unfortunately, I had the only mom I knew of that didn’t possess the braiding skills needed to satisfy my extremely important junior high style.  Several mornings each week, I would run across the street to Mrs. Judy’s house.  She could create a perfect French braid in my hair, and I always enjoyed talking with her as she worked on it.  She would sit on her fireplace, with me on the carpet in front of her.  Each time she would tell me that it meant so much to have this time with a girl, because she didn’t have a daughter of her own.  Only now, do I understand her longing for anything “female”.  Like Mrs. Judy, I will just have to look forward to finding a little girl to one day share my feminine know how with.  Maybe in a neighbor.  Maybe in a friend’s child.  Maybe in a granddaughter.   

I recently came across a pin on Pinterest, (yes, I, too, have succumbed to the addicting call of Pinterest several times a day), that perfectly summed up my recent emotional snag.

It’s obvious to me now that I’ll have to wait until I’m with my Heavenly Father to feel completely content.  In the meantime, I think I’ll just enjoy the heck out of the 4 special souls that God has given me here and now.   

My husband, Chris, and my kids, Lane, Elise, and Ty... They were once among the things I only hoped for, and now I have them.  

Dear Lord, help me not to spoil what you have so lovingly given me, by desiring something that I so clearly do not need.  Amen.

Enjoying each of my kids this summer at a spray park.

One of the few pictures of all of us together.  I am blessed to have them.  

Surrounded By All Of My BOYS!

A Few Girly Things That I Do Get To Enjoy With Elise…

Bows, Bows, Bows

Earrings, Earrings, Earrings

Shoes, Shoes, Shoes

 (I admit it...I’ve got issues.  Who else takes pictures of their kid’s shoes, bows, and earrings???)