In this world of vastly diverse people, we all have different gifts, talents and interests that make tasks easy for some and extremely difficult for others. With a life threatening medical condition, my daughter, Celia. has more than her share of tasks that are difficult. However, despite the challenges, I want her to not only accomplish tasks, but to accomplish them well.
If she has any chance of succeeding in this world, it is vital that I teach Celia to not use her health challenges as a crutch. I noticed the importance of this when she was about eight-years-old. One of her chores was vacuuming the house on Thursdays. If her blood levels were really low, then I would do her chores. Well, one Tuesday, despite good blood levels, she was thinking ahead to avoid responsibilities. Sounding very pitiful, she said, “I think on Thursday, I’m not going to feel very good. I probably won’t be able to do my vacuuming.” I knew at that moment that I would have to work harder to teach her independence and work ethic. When Thursday rolled around, not only did she do her vacuuming, but from there on out, even if her blood was low, she would still do the vacuuming. However, I would allow her plenty of breaks to accommodate low energy levels. We soon created a family motto, “Requiring Excellence in the Midst of Trials.” Those words are ever before our eyes, written in the middle of our home as to not forget. We have had our share of trials, but it doesn’t mean that God expects any less of us. If we are to live out Colossians 3:23,”Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,” then it doesn’t matter the circumstances. Everything we do should be with every fiber of our being, for we are instructed to do it for God himself.
Celia will often times call out from another room of the house, “Mom, can you come help me?” I always ask for more information. More often than not, it is something Celia is capable of doing herself, if she tries hard enough. My standard response is,
“Don’t ask for help if it’s something you can do yourself.”
Her standard, aggravated reply is, “Why don’t you just help me when I ask you to, Mom!?”
“Celia, you have to learn to do these things on your own.”
“But Mom! It’s REALLY hard!”
I have to remind her, “Even if it’s hard, doesn’t mean you don’t have to do it.”
I cannot tell you how many times I have repeated this conversation with Celia. Many times, this entails going through a list of ideas with her of ways she can accomplish the task at hand. For example, one of her jobs as a child was watering the horses. If the water trough had turned green and needed to be emptied and cleaned before refilling, she would come to me asking for help. Instead of going outside to help her, I would help her brainstorm on ways she could empty the heavy water out so the trough could be cleaned. She is unable to lift heavy objects or push hard enough to cause strain, as this causes more internal bleeding. However, she could overcome this obstacle by using a small bucket to empty the water out. It did take her a lot longer to dump out the water one small bucket at a time, whereas I could just push it over, but she needed to learn these hard lessons. Don’t get me wrong, I fail at this often. There are times when I should probably help more than I do, or when I should not help and it is just faster for me to do it myself. My heart, though, is for her to be a hard worker who is able to handle tasks given, figure out unique ways to accomplish goals despite her challenges, and have the self confidence that goes along with it.
I was reminded of this a few years ago. My horse boarding business was very small. By small, I mean I boarded one horse and we had three horses of our own. I had been boarding the same horse for more than three years, so he was well part of our family. This horse was the one who would help the others escape, wreck the barn, take bites out of four wheeler seats, chew up my Christmas lights, take the house numbers off the fence, open his own stall door if the window was down so he could reach the latch, rip off mends to the fences he had broken, run towards me at full speed in the field while kicking and bucking, call me over to the fence whenever outside – only to try to bite me once he had been petted enough, and had my heart completely.
One day, I received a call from a neighbor that we had a horse down. She thought it was probably colic (abdominal pain); the boarded horse, Cody, was rolling in the field. I rushed home to find him in complete misery. Immediately, we called the vet and another neighbor over to help. The next few hours were horrific; watching him suffer and the reality of the situation setting in. My hands caked in mud from the sweat of his pain mixed with the dirt of the field, as I stroked his neck over and over trying to sooth him. Cody’s eyes locking with mine in a cry to ease his pain. I started pleading with God to spare us the terrible outcome that seemed inevitable. The vet said his intestines had a bad twist and the only cure would be emergency surgery that he probably wouldn’t survive. I asked if the twist ever comes undone on its own, to which the vet replied a disheartened, “No.” I called my son, DJ, over to pray with me, reminding him of God’s promise,
“For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20
After praying with my son, I silently prayed, “Okay, God, please perform this miracle because it will be a witness to all here! The vet said the twist will not come undone on its own, so they would have to see it is You working!” Of course, that was probably my manipulating way of pleading my over burdensome case to God.
You see, for the prior six weeks, my husband had been bed ridden. He picked up an illness from a mission trip to Honduras earlier in the year. He was sick off and on all summer and now after five months, completely bed ridden. He would later be diagnosed with malaria. I had spent weeks taking him to doctors, having tests run, taking care of him, doing all of the farm work, dealing with the financial ramifications of him not working – and did I mention, for the first time in a year, Celia having bad bleeding spells?! And now this?? This was truly the straw that would break me. “Not now God!”
As the situation continued to deteriorate, I fell to my knees and cried out to God. To the God that surely loved me enough to help me!! How could He allow me to go through this pain? Why would He allow my heart to be ripped out and laid open once again? For beneath my tough, boot wearing, country girl facade that masquerades as strength, lies a compassionate, tender heart with a deep love for animals. I had witnessed the miracles and knew that all God would have to do is think it, and it would be so. All He would have to do is put His shield of protection on me!
Once Cody’s owners arrived, they made the only decision that was a reasonable option, to have Cody put out of his misery. Being only twelve years old, Cody had lived less than half of his expected life. Shots were given – life drained – misery stopped. Tears flowing, unable to even stand, or speak – seeing the tarp draped over Cody’s now lifeless body. Clutching Cody’s owners in a guilt ridden, apologetic, “surely there’s something I could have done differently” grasp. I cried for hours and couldn’t escape the horrific scenes replaying over and over in my mind every time I closed my eyes, so I must not close my eyes. For days.
REALLY, GOD??? REALLY??!!! Have I not been through enough already? WHY WOULD YOU NOT JUST HELP ME????
Hmmmm…. These words sound familiar. The character that I fervently try to build in my own child, must now be built in me. I hear the answers to my God questioning cries, come out of my own mouth often and they are resounding now, “Even if it’s hard, doesn’t mean you don’t have to do it.” It breaks my heart to watch Celia struggle, so I know the pain it must cause my Heavenly Father to watch me, His child, do the same. It took several days, but I slowly laid down my anger. How much better it is to crawl up in His loving lap and allow Him to comfort me. Giving me strength to endure.
We all have events in our lives that shake the very ground we stand on. But I am reminded this week, to cling to God’s Word to sustain me. Just as much as Celia needs God’s Word to help her through daunting tasks that overwhelm her little spirit, so I too must claim scripture in my own life.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
I encourage you this week, to do the same.
We are in this together! Much Love, TyiaLynn