I didn’t dare move a muscle. Breathe in, breathe out, quiet, shallow, in, out. Don’t move. My son was finally asleep cradled in my arms against my chest. If I could just not move or breathe, maybe, just maybe he would sleep for 15-20 minutes and for that 15-20 minutes there would be no screaming and he wouldn’t feel the pain and I could rest – sort of.
Once, as a young mom, I remember saying to a more experienced mom, “God has given my son to me to care for and love on this earth. But, he isn’t really mine. He’s God’s. It’s my job to love him well.” She murmured words of agreement as her eyebrows rose and a somewhat sad, knowing half-smile filled her face. It was several years later I learned she had lost her eldest child in an accident many years before, long before I knew her, and I finally realized the significance of that knowing smile.
Somewhere between the time I made that statement and the birth of my second child with the entry of additional needs in our lives I forgot those wise words and the perspective I had once held. Somehow, I took upon myself the weight and responsibility for how my son’s health journey progressed, how comfortable he was or wasn’t, for trying to alleviate his pain, and when I couldn’t, for comforting him and being with him every moment through his pain.
His pain never stopped, so neither did I. I didn’t give myself a moment to rest because he had needs. Do I regret being there for him, comforting him, and doing everything I could do to help his body heal? No, not for an instant. But, I do wish I hadn’t carried the weight of it on my shoulders, especially to the extent that I never gave myself a break. This dear, beloved, hurting child wasn’t solely my child. He was ultimately God’s child.
Isn’t God so much more powerful than I am anyway? I couldn’t do much to change my son’s situation or stop his pain. But I could entrust him to the One who created him, who knew every one of his days before he was even conceived, who loved him so much He suffered and died for him, who was powerful enough to conquer death, who knows the number of hairs on my son’s head, and collects all his tears (all 24 hours/day worth of them) in a bottle. I could be His arms holding and comforting this precious boy, God’s love in action, but the future and outcomes are in His control, not mine. Sometimes, I could also step back and allow someone else’s arms to hold him while I took a break and got some rest.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed. If you are carrying the weight of your child’s health challenges, diagnosis, and future. If you are so weighed down you cannot rest or take a break, remember this child is God’s child. Ask Him for a way forward, for help in caring for His dear, beloved child. Then, take a step back on occasion and trust.
Written by Sarah McGuire