Reflections from a Persevering Teen

TeenagerThis post was authored by a sibling who lives with a brother diagnosed with complex disabilities. Originally, this was a college English essay I was asked to review. The author paints a painfully vivid picture of truth: support for the whole family is often overlooked. For this reason, I hope this post sheds light on the family needs, thus offering many options for serving those in need.

Reflections from a Persevering Teen

Hamsters are crafty little creatures, surrounded by a world of squeaky plastic tubes and tunnels that begin to stink quickly. One warm, breezy night, I had the pleasure of sanitizing my hamster’s cage . . . well, a pleasure for him. I unclicked the door to the cage and placed my furry hamster in his plastic ball. My mother joined me as this cleaning process had become a time of laughter we shared together. Yet, not this day. My mother had a heavy heart, and I already knew why.

Arguments between my mom and dad had intensified over months, and my mother had finally reached the breaking point. My parents were splitting up. To think that my mom and dad, the pillars of strength whom I had trusted and loved, would divorce was mind boggling. The depth of pain in my mother’s heart overwhelmed her.

I had watched from a distance their marriage crumbling—their anger and rage having reached a fever-pitch. Smashing my wet palms to my forehead, I breathed heavily, not knowing how bad it would get in the months ahead. Little did I know that my mother and I would be forced to forsake a life I knew in the green hills of California in order to bounce from hotel to hotel for weeks on end until we finally landed in a new state.

But, that night, just as the hamster’s cage sat broken down in the front yard, my hopes for a perfect family were shattered. Was it my brother’s fault? His disabilities exasperated my mom, and she always seemed distracted. But what could she do? Was it my fault? I always tried to make everyone happy. Or was it my sister’s fault? She was the tough, favored one, so how could it land on her shoulders?

I watched my hamster dance about in his clean cage. He climbed the tubes and ran on the wheel, in love all over again with his comfortable home. I envied his security. I trudged up the cold, lonely stairway, yearning for insight, gently laid his cage down on the desk my mother had built. Then, I wept. Tears of sadness and anger and rage all in one setting mingled and saturated the cold carpet in that small Californian home.

Years later, I realized those 13 years of life were similar to my little hamster’s cage; predictable and clean. Yet, he never encountered the scars, the shredding of one’s hopes and beliefs; his world did not depend on faith as mine did. I’m still confused at times; trying to run back to safety like my hamster’s cage provided; yet trying to find my own way to a deep faith in God which is tough for a hurting person to understand.

It’s these things, pain and hurt and confusion and sorrow that press us to the end of ourselves. God allows that for a purpose. My disabled brother, my parents’ divorce, being rejected, encountering failure, and life’s constant frustrations force me to find a steadfast place to stand. I’m finding my way through this path of life; like you, it is easy to blame the divorce or disability or disaster or what have you; that only adds to the misery.

We’ve all got a sob story or two; but through all time, hasn’t that been the rockbed of faith? God allows the fiery, fierce trials to forge a faith in those who choose to believe. I share my thoughts with you as a fellow traveler in life, entering the fire and being shaped by Christ.