When Redmond had been home from the hospital for 10 short days, we found ourselves back in the ICU with him. He was in respiratory distress and it was a very difficult time for us. He’d finally been released from the neonatal intensive care unit, and yet we were back. I felt defeated and terribly alarmed. Would this be our lives? Hospitals and intensive care units every two weeks? My heart was breaking.
I had thrown a book in my suitcase as we rushed out the door. My friend Sarra brought it by the house a few days before, along with a matching t-shirt that said, The Lucky Few.
I didn’t feel lucky. When I looked at the cover of the book, a woman brightly smiling with her three children, two with Down syndrome, I felt annoyed. I thought she was lying. How could congenital heart defects, pulmonary hypertension, low muscle tone, and cognitive impairment be considered lucky? The very idea caused me to roll my eyes.
But I know Sarra, and she had said that this book was a good one. Since she had taken the time to come to my house and bring not only a plethora of meals for my family, but also a book with a matching t-shirt, I figured I owed it to her to at least crack the thing open.
As I resentfully and suspiciously opened the cover, I discovered something so unexpected and refreshing that I couldn’t put the book down. I bawled as I read and re-read her beautiful words. In the pages of that book, I discovered a theology of trust and surrender to God that moved me to the very core of my being. Yes, her story is about Down syndrome and adoption, but it’s so much more. It’s a story of heartbreak and shattered dreams, a decision to make the most of a difficult situation, and then a burst of hope and joy as the author discovers that not only has God given her a gift, but she’s one of the lucky few who get a close up encounter with unexpected joy and beauty.
Suffering is a big part of this story, but through it the author writes that she never would have known God the way she does now if she hadn’t had the privilege to suffer.
Oh, how I wanted to know God more. How deeply I wanted to, had begged for, His presence and power in my life. Now I had the opportunity to understand Him in a way I never could have before – as the one who walks through suffering with me. He had given me the opportunity to learn from a little baby with more strength and fight in him than anything I’d ever experienced before. I’d seen miracles that built my faith, and I had seen faith rise in others as a result. But I’d also experienced the ache of helplessness as my baby suffered. God had been with me in a new way, through the valley of the shadow of death.
I’d always prayed to be a witness. It had never entered my mind that suffering might be a part of that story.
A week later we took Redmond home and he had a much more settled and accepting mommy. I’m so thankful for Sarra, who gave me a precious gift. I’m also thankful for Heather Avis, the author who poured out her heart on those pages so that she could offer encouragement to mine.
Heather Avis is about to publish a new book, called Scoot Over and Make Some Room. This new book is about how important inclusion is. In it, she shares about her own family and how they’ve worked to help others see the value in her children.