I Corinthians 12:26 – “If one part [of God’s body] suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (NIV)
Jase and I learned many years ago that having a child born with a cleft lip/palate was going to be a challenging journey.
This was not something that could be easily fixed; it was going to have to be managed for the rest of her childhood and quite possibly her life. That can seem quite daunting at times.
You see, each stage of her growth and development brings on a new phase of life with a new set of challenges for her, which usually includes a change in her lifestyle and eating habits. Because she has to wear restricting devices on her head and face, she cannot participate in normal childhood activities that most children never think twice about doing. These include jumping on the trampoline, riding a bike, practicing gymnastics, and even swimming. Any of these activities could cause permanent injury to the bone structure of her face if there was an accident.
Every new phase also usually means that the time has come for another operation for which we have to begin preparations. These lifestyle changes, surgeries, and recoveries are extremely unsettling for an active child and for a mom who doesn’t like to see her child suffer.
Each time our daughter, Mia, enters the next phase of her physical challenge, it mentally overwhelms me. I become an emotional wreck. Not in front of her, mind you, but alone in my quiet time. It takes me a few days to wrap my mind around what this new stage requires of Mia and our family.
I’ve come to rely on a small group of women who have become my spiritual support group. They are my rocks, my shoulders, and even my punching bag. They get me. They cry with me and then make me laugh the very next minute. They support me and hold me up to the Father in prayer for strength and endurance.
This group includes a children’s minister who actively displays her love and encouragement for Mia in tangible ways by having the kids at church and school make her cards, paper snowflakes,and so forth, with Scriptures and words of encouragement. Also in the group is a nurse who sits by my side after Mia’s surgeries and helps me navigate the treacherous waters of Mia’s physical care that is my responsibility after bringing her home from the hospital. Another member of the group is one of the most positive, upbeat, hysterical people I know, who has known me my entire life. She makes me bust out laughing with tears in my eyes, but she also prays over me and my family every single day, asking my God to give me strength to make it through this phase. This group also includes my sister-in-law and my aunt, who know me almost as well as I know myself.
They love me unconditionally and will do whatever I need at any given moment of my life. These women show up for me.
You know what else? These are also the same women who are proud of our success as a family. They brag on Facebook about us and tell all their friends about our funny little TV show. They couldn’t be more proud of the blessings being showered on our family.
They know that I am not perfect. They see my weaknesses, my doubts, my inconsistencies. Yet, they still stick around. I’m convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that they love me unconditionally.
Wow! Why should I deserve such loyalty and kindness? I am a member of Christ’s body. That’s why. If we truly understand that we are all in this together, that none of us are perfect and that we all need Jesus; if we truly understand that this life is full of difficulties, heartaches, and disappointments that come from Satan as well as successes, joy, and redemption that come from the Lord, then it becomes easy to be there for each other. I just hope I can give to them like they give to me.
Lord, thank you for my true friendships in your Kingdom. I know that these friends have the same goal of serving you as I do. Because they love you so much, they love me. They are such a blessing in my life, and I pray that you bless them in everything they do.
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