I think that’s a pretty good analogy for my life right now – living in two places at once. On one hand, our life can seem pretty “normal” to most folks. Just glancing at the surface, you may not notice anything out of the ordinary. The standard family of four – mom, dad, two kids. Sometimes, I can almost forget it myself. We’ve found our new normal, developed our routines, adjusted our lives to meet the cards we’ve been dealt.
However, it doesn’t take much for us to be suddenly be jerked back to reality. Every holiday or special occasion really – because they always revolve around food. The look on his face when nearly every gift he received at a party was something he couldn’t eat. Any overnight event – because most kids don’t have to take along an assortment of medications, bags of their own food, and various other items needed to survive time away from home. And if we’re all gone more than one night, you better not forget to check “the list” or you’re sure to forget something extremely important that can’t be picked up last minute at your local supermarket. (I can’t even imagine what will happen if I ever have to get it all onto an airplane!) Then, there are the common, everyday illnesses that always have the possibility of putting one of them in the hospital. Will there come a time when her body decides not to bounce back?
And there are other affairs – concerts, recitals, awards ceremonies, field days, and the list goes on. Will this be the moment that the other kids notice? Will this be the time someone says something unkind and breaks their fragile little hearts forever?
A few weeks ago in Sunday School, our lesson started out with this question: When have you felt like you belonged? While I never shared my answers aloud, there were several moments that came to mind. At the top of the list are Magic Moments Family Camp and Give Kids the World. That’s because while we generally manage to travel undetected in the population often referred to as “general” or “normal,” the kids’ long-term health issues also identify us with the world labeled as “special needs.” And honestly, this is where I generally feel most at ease, most at home.
It’s when we’re with this group that we don’t have to explain the tubes, the gait disturbances, the special foods, the medications, and need to stop a while to give your body time to recover. Staring eyes are filled with understanding and love. If your child becomes irritable or difficult to manage, they don’t automatically assume he or she is a behavior problem and just throwing a fit. Because they know - they really know. Because they’ve been there too. And while our lives and situations are all very different, there is a common pain, a common loss, and common understanding that the other side of our life - the “normal” side - may never get.
All of this reminds me of another struggle, a spiritual one. While my body is here on earth, my spirit longs for the day when I will take residence in my eternal home. Until then, I have one foot here on earth and another standing on His promises (2 Corinthians 5). Because only then will my soul be at rest. Only then will I feel completely accepted, completely at peace. No more struggles, no more tears, no more pain, no more “normal,” no more “special.” Just an eternity with my Savior.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” I Corinthians 13:12.