Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I Wish None of This Happened... (Mourning our Bumps in the Road)

"Mom, you promised us that you would volunteer in our class every other Monday this year.  But you haven't come one Monday.  Why haven't you come?"  My 7 year old daughter Taylor asked this morning during breakfast.
"Well, because of everything that happened with daddy.  And remember?  We were in the hospital on 'Back to School Night' and that's the night parents signed up to volunteer." Long pause.
"But remember that amazing photo album your teacher made for us?  You got to take pictures of everything special to you at school and she printed it and put it in that beautiful book for you to give daddy in the hospital?  That was awesome!"  I replied in my super duper "look on the bright side, honey" voice.

"I wish none of this happened." She said quietly.

She didn't have an attitude.  She wasn't being bratty.  It was almost like she was saying it to herself.
In that moment, I realized how much I had missed the mark in our conversation thus far.
Jon was heading up the stairs and since he is deaf in one ear now, I realized he missed our exchange.
I called for him to come back and join us.
As he reached the bottom of the stairs, I looked at Taylor and asked her to tell her daddy.
"I wish none of this happened." She repeated.  "I wish none of it ever happened to you."
"Us too, honey."  I replied.  "We wish it never happened either."
Jon hugged her.
"When are you going to be better?" she asked.
Jon said, "Honey, I am better. Look how good I'm doing."  He jumped up and down a few times, and walked a few steps, showing her how "normal" his body was functioning.
"When is ALL of you going to be better?" She said as she waved her hand up and down, motioning his entire body.  Before he could respond, she said, "Like, your smile.  When will that be better?"
Jon and I exchanged a glance.
"Well," I said.  Deep breath. "It might not get better.  It might stay like this.  We hope it will get better and we really think it is going to get better.  But there is a chance that part will stay the same."

We talked for a few more minutes, kissed Tay, and Jon went back upstairs while the kids continued to pack up their backpacks.  I quietly slipped upstairs after Jon.
"You OK?"  I asked.
"About what?  Taylor?  Oh honey.  Absolutely.  Taylor asks the honest questions.  She makes the honest statements. I love that about her."

Honesty.  I'm learning it's one of the key ingredients in healing.
Creating a safe environment where honesty is welcome.  Another key.

When Taylor first mentioned the fact that I hadn't been in her classroom as a volunteer, my first, knee jerk reaction was to point her to the roses.  "Just look at those, honey.  Don't think about those thorns that are digging into your skin.... the pain that you feel from those blasted thorns.  Focus on the roses.  You remember that photo album, honey.  All those great pictures.  Think about that.  Think on that instead of the fact that your parents spent Back to School Night in ICU.  Think about that instead of the fact that your dad was learning to walk again on a Monday, instead of your mom being in the classroom."

Wow.  What a disservice.

As parents, we want our children to be happy.  We want them to experience good things.  We want the best for them.  So sometimes when a bump in the road happens, we try to distract them.  Focus their attention elsewhere.  Because sometimes the bump isn't worth their time or energy or mind space.  Truly.  But other times, The Bump is actually a deal.  A real thing.  A divorce.  An accident.  A loss.  An illness.  And in an attempt to make sure everything is "good" and "happy," we still try to divert their attention from The Bump - even the Big Bump(s) - and try to show them the roses instead.  We act like everything is A-OK, when clearly, Bumps are not OK.  They are anything but OK.  They hurt us and shake us and bump us and bruise us.  They are painful.  And as much as we don't want our kids to experience pain, they still do.

"We agree.  We wish this never happened either."

Those 2 sentences were the best gifts we could have given Taylor today.  She felt validated.  And not alone.  And she was given permission to grieve.
Ah, there is another major key to healing.  Permission to grieve.

Our culture is filled with "good" people.
"How are you?"
"I'm good, thanks.  How are you?"
"I'm good too."

Do you remember that it used to be "fine."
"How are you?"

But who is "fine" anymore?  I mean, really.  Everyone is at least "good" right??
Unless you're not good.  Or fine.  Then what?

Life is hard.  Like, excruciating, sometimes.  Painful and sad. And you know what?  It's OK to say so.  It's OK to feel so.
I'm an imperfect person and an imperfect parent.  But at the core of who I am, I want my children to find that I am a safe place to process.  A safe place to be honest.  I love them no matter what.  So that's me.  Imperfect, human being, me.
How much more do you think our Heavenly Father is to us?  Our perfect, loving, good, powerful Father God.
Friends, He can handle your honesty.  He can take your frustration.  He is a safe place.  No need to fake it.  No need to pretend that all you see is roses.  He sees your pain. He knows your story.  You don't have to hide your fear or your anger or your sadness.
And because He intended for this world to have total Shalom, He will say to you, "I know.  Me too.  I wish this never happened either."
This pain, this brokenness, these thorns, this Bump... this was not what God intended and planned.  God created peace.  Shalom.  Things as it should be.  Completion.  And then came sin.  And death.  And disease.  And destruction.
So what does God do?  Comforts.  And loves.  And offers grace.  And brings peace.  He causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him...  He is much more than just a listening ear.  But start there.  Talk.  Be honest.  And see what happens.

You know what we did for Taylor?  We celebrated Christmas.  OK, not completely, but we decided this house needed some extra cheer.  Stat.  So we broke our own rule (of no Christmas before Thanksgiving) and busted out the Christmas decorations.  The tree is up, the nativity scenes are out.  We are reminded that God, Emmanuel, came near.  God came near to us.  To know us.  To experience what we experience.  (yes, even pain and sadness and betrayal and loss...)  To live as an example for us.  And to give up His life for us.  Our family needed this reminder earlier than usual this year.  We needed the hope of Christmas to invade our home today.  We needed our kids to sense some joy.  And somehow, God used twinkle lights and egg nog toasts to supernaturally heal our hearts.

Perhaps you have experienced your own Bump.  And perhaps you have tried as hard as you can to pretend it didn't hurt.  To pretend you didn't feel the jolt.  Didn't notice the bruises.  Sometimes our healing is stunted because we aren't honest.  We don't know if there's a safe place to be honest.   And we haven't given ourselves permission to grieve.  Don't minimize your Bump.  Feel it.  Mourn it.  Grieve it.  And then allow God to heal it.  He will.  And then go and be a safe place for others.  Grieve with them.  Feel with them.  Then point them to Jesus.

Oh, and don't miss those roses.   Because they are there.  He will show them to you.   He wants to do everything with you...  Hear the honesty.  Heal the pain.  Celebrate the healing.  And delight in the goodness of those roses.
And if it takes Christmas in November?  Then so be it.
Egg nog never tasted so good.


  1. No words Deanna.....only tears. Powerfully real

  2. I feel like I've been mourning my own "bump" or lack thereof (bad joke!) for several months now. Reading your blog with everything you guys have been through made me feel ashamed of myself for being sad. Thanks for your honesty and your willingness to share the bumps too. Joy is beautiful, but so is hopeful sorrow...
    Love you guys. ~Dani

  3. Deanna and Jon, You are both so amazing in your teaching your children how to 'live'.. Taylor is really learning so much in her short life about pain and suffering..Daddy's face may never get back the way it was, but his smile is always there! You may be able to do Mondays with her at school and maybe Jon can join in too..Those are only bumps along our walk with the Lord to maybe something better in the future. God Bless you and enjoy the egg nog...

  4. Great post, thanks for sharing! It brought encouragement to my soul.

  5. Beautiful, Deanna, and so true! **Hugs and prayers**

  6. Thanks Deanna! Awesome. I affirm the gift of writing God has given you.