“Occasionally weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.”
That’s what Pastor John posted the other day. A friend sent it to me as it was a perfectly timed word for her life. It hit me with a tightness, almost a guiltiness.
I got myself a pair of slippers a couple months ago. It’s no big deal really, but for some reason it was a big deal to me. I looked and looked and price compared and waited and waited for a couple years and finally clicked the button to buy them. It’s not like they were expensive or a well-known brand, they just happened to be exactly what I wanted.
Since I got them they’ve been vomited on more times than I can count. The first time it was just splatters, drips, and it didn’t bother me. Since then, it’s been fuller versions and I still haven’t been upset. I even took a picture the other day, after I’d cleaned them off, and laughed at the ridiculousness of it all.
But somewhere in all that, something has been shoved down. And today it pushed its way out. I sat down to feed Titus, which is always through his g-tube, because he can’t eat by mouth. And his extension tube hadn’t been clipped. So when I attached it the button in his tummy, his stomach contents started to leak out the extension tube, right on–you guessed it–my slipper. It was completely minor. NO BIG DEAL. It’s happened before, it will happen again and I caught it pretty quickly precisely because it was dripping on my foot.
Yet in that moment, there was grief. Grief at the absurdity of what was happening and that my slipper had stomach junk on it again and that somehow it’s supposed to be normal. In that moment, I was transported to my pre-disability days and it all struck me as so bizarre and sad–not simply the small moment I was in, but all that it represented.
Titus throws up about 5-10 times a week–more on a bad week–and this is part of his life. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. The main thing I fret about is the calorie intake. But, we’ve managed that pretty well and he’s growing beautifully.
Self-pity and the isolation of thinking of our trials as unique is a dangerous dangerous thing and my strategy has been to stay as far away from it as possible and to try to plant thankfulness and sow gratitude. Granted, it’s not that hard, God has given me a life that has far exceeded any expectations that I had. I have a wonderful husband, five children and a church family that is very close to my heart. I am the richest of women, owing to nothing in myself.
But what do I do in those moments when a forgotten clip on a tube and a soiled slipper reveal that there are emotions and grief that haven’t been dealt with and are shoved down and threatening to overwhelm? I’ll tell you what I did do. I took a picture. So weird, but I just felt the need to document how bizarre it all was and I knew God was teaching me something that I wanted to remember.
I think what I learned from it is something like, “Don’t cry over spilled milk. But every great once in a while, you can shed a tear for leaked stomach contents.”
Which brings me back to what Pastor John said, “Occasionally weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.”
I don’t weep deeply over the life I hoped would be–I used to do that occasionally, especially when I was scared that Titus would die. But I don’t anymore, because my life is a story of undeserved grace. But every now and then I shed a tear for my boy, for his struggles, and for my slipper, and for all the throw up. Then I get a towel, wash up, and brace myself for the next time.