At church we've been going through a series in Ecclesiastes. This week's message really struck home as the speaker was talking about life being unfair. That's a sentiment I carried around for a long time when it came to our first born child.
My husband and I were both good people- good Christians. We made great effort to finish grad school (debt free), get settled into jobs, buy a house, and get our lives ready to welcome the perfect baby- before "pulling the baby trigger". At that time we had been married for 3 years. (I'm not saying any of those things are the perfect or even right path to parenthood. Just in our specific situation this is what we felt we needed to do/accomplish before we were ready to grow our family. Yes...we tend to be a bit on the overachiever side.)
It really never crossed our minds that things wouldn't go perfectly. In marriage counseling I remember being asked "How would you react if you had a child with a disability?" Out loud I said "We would be fine with that." But inside I was saying "Ha! That'll never happen to us so I'm just going to say what I'm supposed to say."
When the 20 week ultrasound showed big concerns, I had a horrible feeling, but I kept telling myself that everything would be fine. After all- we deserved the perfect baby- right?
When the amnio came back with positive results for Trisomy 21- my first thoughts were ones of anger. This wasn't fair. I knew of people who accidentally got pregnant with babies with the right number of chromosomes who chose not to even give that baby life- people aborting babies not because something was wrong- but just because they didn't want a baby. All we wanted was a child to grow our little family- and yet our journey was heavy with disability, fear, and more questions than we could find answers. This wasn't fair.
When Addison was born she was extremely sick for a long time- NICU for 5 weeks, oxygen for 9 months, gtube, heart surgeries, therapies galore- I had more anger. This wasn't fair. Sure, our daughter had an extra chromosome, but at least God could have sent her to us HEALTHY. Didn't we deserve that at least? We were in the NICU with many drug babies. Babies whose pregnancies had been abused. Babies who weren't given a chance at a good life for the first nine months of growth. I had given our daughter the model pregnancy experience- vitamins, nutrition, classical music listening- and yet our health "result" was even worse than the drug babies' health.
This wasn't fair.
This week's message talked about how God designs our lives- not to be fair- but for our ultimate good. He doesn't compare our lives to what society would deem successful and make sure that we fairly get our cut. He doesn't build our families according to what Hollywood sells us as perfect. He doesn't count happiness and goodness as what might believe as ultimate when you look around and see the quintessential modern day family with 2.5 brilliant children. He doesn't even always choose to give children to those who would make the most amazing parents.
The results we are given in life do not always equal our efforts. And that seems grossly unfair- especially when dealing with such highly sensitive matters as a child's life.
And yet He designs our lives for our good. And this includes the children that he sends or doesn't send us.
The awesome thing is- there is no cookie cutter "good" that we all get to experience. We all have our own unique paths laid out before us with precision- waiting for us to experience our specially designed brand of "good".
With us- two extremely impatient people who lived our first three years of marriage like two single, driven people who just happened to share an apartment and a last name- having a child with a disability pulled us together into a type of unity that we had never known before. That was good.
Having a child with a lot of health needs right on the heels of newly starting a business, moving to a new state, and taking on a brand new mortgage- caused us to have to trust in a higher being than we ever had to before because it had been pretty easy to just "do it ourselves" up to that point. New reasons to trust- good.
Learning to love a child who wasn't on our original radar of "perfect" and having to trust her very fragile life with the one who perfectly created her, this changed us as people. It made us better people- a better couple- a better family. Because this was our good. And even though it was a huge surprise, disappointment, and for a long time a matter of grief for us, the last four years of Addison's life has shown us nothing but goodness.
God is good. He has given us a daughter with Down syndrome. I wouldn't even say that she is the most advanced child with Down syndrome- or the highest functioning. It took her 9 months just to be able to breathe without the aid of oxygen for goodness sakes. But He is still good.
Addison is the light of our lives. Yes, she has 1.75 brothers who we love dearly as well. But there will always be a special spot in our hearts for Addison. It's like we didn't truly start to live until we met her. She changed us. She made our lives richer. She gave us a sharper focus as a family. She has brought something amazing to our family that we are still discovering more about each and every day. Being Addison's family has been good beyond our wildest dreams, and I know it will continue to be good as we grow with her.
As I peruse my Facebook friends list these days- I am seeing a lot of unfairness. I see babies born too early. I see babies getting sick. I see babies getting scary diagnosis that no one really knows what it even means. I see heartbroken families trying to cope with issues in their children's lives. I see the scary unknown facing many families.
It seems somehow trite and callous to type a comment that "God has designed this for your good."
Because in the moment of the pain, it doesn't seem like it. It doesn't seem fair. And it doesn't seem right.
But he has.
I have felt the anger. I have cried the tears. I have fought against something that I couldn't change. But at the end of the day as I settled into life as a new mommy with a very special little girl, I learned first hand that in a situation that seemed extremely unfair- God had actually designed every last detail of it for our good.
It seems to me that a lot of people say this about finance problems, relationship struggles, work drama, or sickness. But something about bad things happening to our children, our babies, makes the the words "God is good" somehow stick in our throats.
This subject has been on my heart a lot this week- a difficult week in which I was ready to trade all my children in for some peace, quiet, and much needed sleep. But as I pondered the deeper message that we learned through a big circumstance, it came to me how much this applies to my day-to-day difficulties as well.
As I wait for new baby; as I chase around a two year old who has turned into a monster overnight; as I work with a 4 year old who refuses to obey. I know that this is all for my good. My little family- uniquely ours- specially designed-full of mistakes and perfection bound up in one- chaos, happiness, exhaustion, peace, uncertainty- it is good.