A little while ago we had a dedication service for Aiden. It was a very special day for us, shared with close friends and family. I read this letter that I wrote to Aiden, about the lessons I’ve learnt so far on this journey.
My dearest Aidy
This letter comes to you on the occasion of your dedication. You are 20 months old, and already your life has been exceptionally marked – by trauma and tragedy yes, but by victory as well. Before you were even born you were a survivor. You’ve already exceeded expectations numerous times, especially by crawling when the experts said you wouldn’t. And in the eight months since we found out about your stroke, I have become so proud of how you handle all your therapy.
One of the things I am grateful for is that we only received your diagnosis when you were 11 months old. This gave me nearly a year of getting to know you before the ‘cerebral palsy’ filter was applied. I am grateful for this, because while your disability will always be a challenge for you, it does not define you. It never has in my eyes.
You are such a courageous little boy Aiden. You have a beautiful heart. You stand up for yourself – with all the resources at your disposal (even if that means your teeth). You are tenacious. You are brave. You are incredibly positive. You’ve inherited your dad’s sense of humour for the silly. Your temperament is utterly delightful, and everyone who meets you remarks on it. You approach life with a smile and a giggle.
So I don’t want this letter to focus on your stroke, because there is so much more to you than that. But at the same time, I am learning so much on this journey and I believe these lessons can be of value to you as you navigate life, so I’d like to share them with you here.
Firstly, this stroke was not God’s plan for you. I do not believe he condones or wishes these sorts of things to happen to us. We live in a harsh and broken world, where difficulty comes in numerous forms, and leaves none of us unaffected. Without Jesus, this life is just a hard and nonsensical struggle. He is the hope and promise for all the good things. Get to know Him and hang on.
Secondly – the Lord does not leave us ill-equipped and alone. He’s given you abilities, character traits and resources which can shine in this situation. He’s given you family – Dad and I are cheering you on inchstone by inchstone, and are here for you always. There’s Cam, who you already try so hard to emulate, and who will be your inspiration and defender. He’s give you a support structure, which includes those sitting here today. These relationships are important, as it’s your community that gets you through tough times, so cultivate them intentionally. But more than anything else, the Lord has given you Himself. And that truly is a difference maker.
Thirdly, God does not leave us floundering in the blur. In those dark and terrifying weeks after we received your diagnosis, I got a very clear picture of giant footprints stretching out ahead of me. And I sensed the Lord saying that He will not lead us where He hasn’t gone before. So head down, keep moving forward, do the Next Right Thing. This stroke may have sideswiped us and altered your life forever, but the Lord was not caught unawares. He’s got plans for you son – big, beautiful, purpose-filled plans. You’ve just got to follow. He’s got this.
Those are the three things that I am learning to live out, and they’ve brought me an incredible distance in a short space of time. Yes, you and I are only at the beginning of this journey my boy, but it is one infused with hope. And in these early years, when you are learning to live by following me, I earnestly pray that I will be able to do these things well.
As much as Hollywood will have you believe otherwise, this life is hard. We all have challenges and struggles. You just already know what some of those will be for you, and are dealing with them earlier than most. For when the going gets tough, I’d like to share a quote from Rob Bell’s book, Drops like stars:
The Francisan priest Richard Rohr points out that Native Americans have a tradition of leaving a blemish in one corner of the rug they are weaving because that’s where they believe the spirit enters.
I can relate to the rugs.
I want desperately for things to go ‘how they’re supposed to.’ Which is another way of saying ‘how I want them to,’ which is another way of saying ‘according to my plan.’
And that, as we all know, isn’t how it works.
But it’s in that disappointment, in that confusion, in that pain – the pain that comes from things not going how I wanted them to – that I find the same thing happening again and again. I come to the end of myself, to the end of my power, the end of my strength, the end of my understanding, only to find in that place of powerlessness a strength and peace that weren’t there before.
I keep discovering that it’s in the blemish that the Spirit enters.
Keep up the courage my boy. Keep on doing what you can. Keep pushing, keep trying, keep smiling. And lean on the Spirit to do the rest.
I love you so incredibly much. It is truly a privilege to be your mom.