Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Flowers Under The Thorns

This was the week. The week three years ago that changed my life.

This was the beautiful, fall week in gorgeous Vermont that all the beauty turned to ash because of a suspicious ultrasound and a conclusive phone call following the amnio. This was the week that crashed my hopes and dreams- shipwrecked my ideals- exploded my pride. This was the week that I found out that my unborn little girl had an extra chromosome.

At one point this week caused me only pain. The memories were so fresh- wanting the baby to die-feeling as though my life was over- convinced that I would never be happy again. But now the thought of this week three years ago has just faded into the background of my story.

Am I embarrassed of the way I responded to the news? Did I trust God less because for the next twenty weeks I cried every night from the minute I got home from work until the late hour that I finally fell into a restless sleep? Am I a bad Christian because for the first time I understood the feeling of not wanting your baby so badly that you would start calling the baby a "fetus" and wish it would just disappear?

No, no, and no. I am human. I am weak, but I serve a big God. I look back in amazement at how wrong I was about my life being ruined. I can barely believe some of the things I said/thought, but I'm glad I wrote them down when I did. I think honestly is important because that's when it can really help someone else going through a similar situation. I have chosen to be very frank on this blog and in my ebook about my thoughts on this subject not because I enjoy exposing myself in that way but because I know that my story is not the only one to be forced onto an path of the unknown.

Addison has changed my life. I went through such a dark time wondering if I could ever love her. I worried about her future, how she would look, what the label "special" would do to my family. And perhaps some of you reading this think that I am just fooling myself because I am living with a beautiful three year old. That I don't know what I'm talking about because I haven't lived the life of parenting an adult with a toddler mentality.

But I just want to say- that these past years being Addison's mother have been amazing- life altering- mind blowing. No matter what the future brings, I wouldn't trade the gift of the past 3 years for anything. I love her just as fiercely as I love my son, and when I look at her I see my little girl. Not Down syndrome. Not a mistake. My daughter.

She walks, laughs, "reads" books, dances at music class, climbs at gymnastics class, and steals food from her little brother. A little girl.

She says and signs new words every week, plays long hours with her iPad, stacks blocks, climbs furniture, pitches fits when things don't go her way. A toddler.

She gives her brother hugs, competes for toys, runs him down if he gets in her way, has "social bottle hour" with Carter in his crib, explores with him by her side. A sister.

I think that's the thing that I was missing the most three years ago this week. That no matter what the doctors told me- no matter what the google searches revealed- no matter what horror I built up for myself in my imagination- I was having a baby, a person complete with personality, a sense of humor, and a sin nature.

What I thought was the worst thing that could ever happen to me was actually "the good" sent to me to complete my life- to heal a sickness that I didn't even know I had- to make me into a better person, challenging me to new growth every step of the way.

This week three years ago: once a source of great pain, now a point of great thankfulness for the good in my life.

This is a short clip that I wrote for my book No Guarantees, but have cut it out in more recent drafts. It really sums up these past three years, so I'm sharing it here:

Sometimes I think that individuals with disabilities are placed in random families to bring a new level of depth to that family and all of the individuals that family might touch in some way.

It’s as if there was a certain variety of bush, gorgeously lush and producing the most delicately beautiful flowers you can imagine. But this bush first produces a layer of thorns and then the flowers begin- underneath. These bushes randomly sprout up throughout the world- some in the middle of the street so you can’t help but notice; some on the side of the road; some in backyards; some in parks.

The thorns hit you hard and you think this bush should be uprooted and banished from the world to make room for all of the perfect, thornless flowers. But if you stand patiently and wait for your eyes to adjust, you will see the flowers peeking through. Beautiful and unscathed.  Breathtakingly lovely, this bush blesses whoever was patient enough to stand still long enough with an exquisite show that leaves a smile, a gasp of wonder and new appreciation for life.

If such a bush were to happen in your yard, your first impulse would be to grab the nearest shovel and dig the root up before any flowers bloomed and tempted you to "selfishly" fall in love with the exquisiteness and color present there. Surely those thorns would ruin your life.

But the truth is, this world of superficial beauty needs these bushes of flowering goodness.

These bushes are a constant reminder to love deeper; judge less; live stronger; appreciate louder.

Surface love is the easiest and the most desirable to some. But those magnificent flowers resting under the thorns deserve to be appreciated in all their glory just as you might love a rose- with more easily noticed beauty but perhaps with the same gnarly thorns hiding under the surface.

Small or big, these bushes are in the world to make a difference in the area that they were planted. Many are blind and indifferent to the beauty, seeing only the thorns and insisting that the world needs fewer of them.

But to those who have been there. To those that know better. They know that those thorns are necessary to protect those flowers from the harshness of the world around; to provide the perfect environment for the flowers to flourish; to keep the flowers from too much sun-too much wind-too much humidity.

Those that know better realize that the thorns will never go away, but that they certainly shouldn’t stop us from reveling in the magnificence of the flowers. We just need to stop focusing on the thorns and instead realize what the thorns are protecting.

Our thorns- the medical drama, the learning delays, all of the "extras"-have been completely worth it for the beauty now in our lives through Miss Addison. And to the version of myself three years ago who could only see the thorns, I say to her- just wait. Just wait and see the good that is coming your way.

1 comment:

  1. Well said Deanna! I totally understand every single word because you know I feel the exact same way :) thanks for sharing!


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