Raising a child with an immune system disorder and running a children’s ministry department at the same time can prove quite problematic—but I tried. There were 600 energetic, excited kids the first Sunday Stonebriar Community Church opened its doors, and the ministry grew exponentially from there. My son Jon was 15 months old and attached to my hip—I carried him everywhere I went when he was well enough to go.
But then he got sick. Really sick. Hospital sick. He-may-not-make-it sick.
I don’t recall how many Sundays we attended for the next few years, but it wasn’t many. I can recall how many illnesses Jon had, how many specialists he needed, how many therapies he required. When I wasn’t recalling what I had to do to keep Jon alive, I was reminiscing about the life I used to have and feeling sorry for myself.
I didn’t have a clue.
I didn’t have a clue about a lot of things, but I quickly learned that I could live on Diet Coke, Gummy Bears, and an hour of sleep. I could carry a child on one hip while simultaneously administering a breathing treatment, answering the phone, and cooking dinner. Surviving happens while you are gutting it out through thick, hard, and suffocating circumstances; when the walls of the world grow terribly coarse, narrow, and deep; when you’re not sure of the difference between day and night because life is mostly dark.
That’s where my family and I were for a long time.
One of the greatest challenges can be understanding people fighting to survive. They don’t show well to most people: they miss socials and church services (heaven forbid). People wrongly presume survivors are indifferent, uncaring, shallow, or not trusting of God when really, they are screaming silent prayers for help while trying to remember every medical need, new diet plan, schedule to follow, papers to file, and where they last put the keys.
Surviving isn’t popular, and most people who are trying to survive feel out of place in this world where it seems we’re required to always “look good” and “measure up.” Surviving demands that you find some way to lift the weight of life again and again.
It’s easy to quickly assume a lot about those who are thrashing in waves far from secure shores; however, for those gasping for air, presumptive judgments crush like pounding surf.
It’s time to stop judging others for what they look like or where they show up or what they do. When someone disappears, maybe it’s time we check on them—visit her home, spend a day in his life, pick up that mess, hold that hand, and experience that life. It’s not for the faint of heart. I dare you.
Heroic survivors are greeted with one specific choice—that is, if they are going to survive.
- Regardless of what anyone may say or assume, in the messy, gritty, stark pain of it all, the choice is ours and ours alone.
- If we choose to survive, the foundation will be on Jesus of the Bible—not on some false “Jesus” of man-made rules. The Jesus of the Bible will turn weakness to strength, sorrow to joy, darkness to light, and help us survive.
Without Him, I still don’t have a clue.
Stonebriar Community Church opened when my son was 15 months old; he will turn 18 years old this year, 2015. His energetic, excited siblings who attended Sunday school moved through their own sorrows and overcame as survivors do. They are my heroes, though they don’t think of themselves as such. They also don’t judge those trying to survive. Neither does Jon, because he is a survivor. Constantly misunderstood and judged for his differences, he survives challenges you and I can’t imagine.
Let Me Hear from You
Maybe you are in survival mode right now.
- It’s hard and dark and lonely.
- You are living paycheck to paycheck, wondering if you can make it through the day.
- Judgment or gossip has crushed you.
Don’t let it wipe you out. Forgiveness was uttered from the cross to those who did not understand—so we can let it go and let it be.
Maybe you have presumed incorrectly about someone’s absence.
- Have you gone to see him, called, sent a word of encouragement?
- Have you asked how she is?
If not, stop talking, stop assuming and start reaching out. You could be the one who helps a person choose to survive.
Maybe you have chosen to give up. Without Christ, I would have as well. I would have become a bitter, resentful, angry woman, empty and alone. Do you really want to live that way? I plead with you, don’t give up! It’s not worth it. Take it second by second. Reach up . . . but don’t give up! You’re becoming a hero!
Or maybe you have assumed the worst about someone. Please STOP assuming! Instead, reach out for that hand, call, connect, show up. We are the body of Christ—many members, many differences—and you play a part. What impact are you making for the body?
Let’s talk about how we can do this together.
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