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The Struggle is Real

Some Thoughts on Perspective

Look at that smile despite his circumstances :)

Last summer, I participated in a women’s bible study entitled Fierce Faith at Northeast Christian Church. They did a great job supplementing Alli Worthington’s book with thoughtful conversations about various fears such as the fear of failure, missing out, and not being enough. Whenever I open myself up to a group study, I am usually hit with a healthy dose of perspective. When your main stresses in life are work, potty training a toddler, and picking up the house, it’s eye-opening to hear people talking about not having a job, grieving the loss of a child, or potentially foreclosing on a home. Hearing their pain temporarily makes your daily struggles seem insignificant, and for the moment, you breathe in that dose of perspective and thank God for your blessings.

Why is that feeling temporary? Why can’t we always live life with perspective? No matter how many inspiring videos I watch that bring me to tears, or heartfelt stories I read on Facebook, I always end up frustrated with my seemingly mundane issues that would likely be labeled “first world problems”. I want to live with gratitude, but I always lose sight of perspective.

Looking back now, I am ashamed to say I don’t think I could totally relate to those inspiring stories. I felt bad for them but I couldn’t see myself in their shoes. And even though my problems did not seem as bad as theirs, they were real to me.

Now that our life course has been redirected, I am learning that everyone has very real struggles. I can also tell you the very last thing I want is pity. Of course I wouldn’t have chosen this path for my family, but we are not going to sulk about what we don’t have when we’ve been blessed with so much. While we have experienced some of the lowest lows, we’ve also had some moments of pure joy. Sadie is the very best and proudest big sister. It makes my heart burst with love seeing her hold her baby brother, look him in the eyes, sing and talk to him. It’s hard to describe the joy of witnessing Brooks finally manage to grab someone’s attention just so that he can share a smile with them.

I’ve spent many evenings alone with Brooks, starring into his beautiful blue eyes, and he looks up at me with so much love. He’s content to just sit, stare, and love me. It’s like I’ve never really taken the time to slow down and see that before. We’ve met some amazing, caring, and inspiring people in the last few months. We’ve been fully embraced by our network of family, friends, and even some strangers. I wish we could tell them all just how much they are loved and appreciated. It’s truly amazing to be surrounded by so much love.

Even though we don’t want sympathy, we do very much want your empathy. We don’t want to do this alone. We want our story to move you to action. That action may be helping us to fund research to cure this disease, or it may simply be making important changes in your own life so that you can choose joy daily.

I hope that you never have to gain perspective by going through a life altering experience. My prayer as someone who has, is that I don’t lose sight of the perspective I’ve gained. Even on the hard days, I want to choose joy. I want to take the time to stare into my children’s eyes, to just sit and listen to them. I want to prioritize time with my husband, because our marriage is the foundation of our family. I want to spend time with God always, because He is the foundation for our marriage. The truths we have prayed over Brooks and our family are the glue keeping us together.

I’ve come back to the hospital after a long day at work feeling sorry for myself only to see a line of 30 or so crying family members waiting in line to say goodbye to a dying child. I walk in Brooks’s room to see him hooked up to his vent and monitors but he smiles so big when he sees me! I can kiss his fat cheeks and then wrap my arms around Sadie and Cam. We are all going through all kinds of stuff. It’s ok to be stressed and have bad days. The struggle is real, but don’t dwell there. Listen to each other. Know that pain and hurt may be disguised by rudeness or ego. Be kind anyways. Offer grace. Let’s start giving each other the benefit of the doubt.

I am learning that no matter what we’re going through now, whether it’s a newborn who won’t sleep through the night or a child in the hospital, the struggles are REAL. Let’s stop comparing and start understanding. My pain isn’t worse than yours, it’s just different. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring. If you see a story that inspires you, reach out and connect because connection brings us all closer. God intended us to live in community with each other. Don’t let fear or pride keep us isolated. I want to hear about your joy, even through the struggles.

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