"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.
And the waves will not overcome you.
Do not fear
For I have redeemed you.
I have called you by name.
You are mine.
I am the Lord, your God.
I am the holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Do not fear.
I am the Lord." ~Isaiah 43
These words keep pressing upon my (Amy) heart lately in times of anxiety and sadness. "Do not fear, Amy. For I have redeemed you. I have called you [and your sweet daughter, Caroline] by name, you [she] are [is] Mine."
As Caroline and I were checking out at a department store today, she discovered a wheelchair in the corner and began climbing all over the thing. Well, being the "Super-Mom" that I am (ha ha), I decided to make it a little "teachable moment," right?
I bent down to my knees, disregarding all the other shoppers walking by us staring. "Caroline," I said in a low, gentle voice, "do you know what that wheelchair is for? I need you to get off of it and come down here so I can tell you."
She quickly climbed down, all ears. "What is it, Mommy?"
I explained. "That's a wheelchair, sweetheart, and it is there to help people that are having trouble walking right now. Sometimes people's legs don't work right and the wheelchair is here to help them in the store. It's not for kids to climb on, so we are going to leave it right here for other people who need help with their legs."
That seemed to do the trick. I saw the wheels a'churning as we walked out of the store hand-in-hand and got buckled into our seats. A minute later...
"Mommy, can you tell me about that wheelchair again?" I heard from the backseat.
"Sure." I proceeded again with my explanation. But this time I added, "Sometimes people's legs don't work right. And sometimes people's eyes don't work right. And sometimes people's fingers don't work right."
"And what else, Mommy?"
"And sometimes people's ears don't work right. And sometimes people's heads don't work right."
"And what else, Mommy?"
"Well, everybody has something that doesn't work right. Sometimes people get dizzy, like Mommy does. Sometimes people have problems eating food, like Daddy does. Everyone is different, and that's a good thing. Everyone is special, and God makes everyone just the way He wants them to be."
God makes everyone just the way He wants them to be. (Gulp.) Feel the tears begin to well up. Deep breath, Amy. Don't start losing it here at the intersection of Wards Ferry Rd and 29 as you're explaining to your almost-3 yr. old about a stupid wheelchair!
Nothing more was said. (well, until we passed the Chick Fil A & I heard, "Mom, are we gonna see the cow at Chick Fil A?") :) But I quickly realized my little "teachable moment" was not really intended for Caroline. It was really intended for me.
See, I didn't want God to take every last wavy brown hair away from my beautiful daughter's head at 21 months old. And now at 34 months, I don't want her to be different in such a visible way that draws people's attention and makes random strangers in Sam's Club ask to pick her up and through tears say "what a courageous young lady!" she is. (as if she's a cancer patient??... ugh...) As I am preparing myself for what I think will be an upcoming diagnosis of simply alopecia with no known cause or treatment, I just don't want to think of a potential lifetime without hair for Caroline.
But His ways are not my ways. "Do not fear. I have called you BY NAME. You are mine." In His providence, the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. I know it sounds utterly ridiculous to apply that thought to hair, but I don't think you can understand the grief that accompanies alopecia until you've lived it yourself. Most of the time I'm able to hold it together emotionally, but you don't know how many times this past year I have been tempted to shave my entire head if it meant she could have hair again.
Long before she was born, He knew my bald, sweet Caroline by name, and He says, "SHE is Mine." I have to trust that His love for her is so much stronger than mine, and to me he says, "Do not fear, Mama. See those birds? I feed them. See those flowers? I clothe them. Don't worry. I'll take care of her. Not just right now, but for her entire life. And I'll take care of you, too."
I'm praying that God would not only give me the grace to speak in the teachable moments about His unique design and deep love for every person, but to believe it as well.