Monday, June 23, 2014
To my daughter on the eve of surgery:
We're standing right on the edge here, looking down the rock face, eyes wide and wholly unsure. Nothing about this is easy, but I'm pretty sure it's right. Before we take this plunge... before we start a whole new phase of your life, of our lives... there are a few things I want you to know.
1) We are not doing this to fix you, to make you whole.
Life with hearing loss looks different for every person, every family. I truly, honestly, 100% believe there is no "right" path with this, no way to go that is "the" way. It is personal and subjective. Every individual and family should weigh the decision carefully.
That said, your dad and I have weighed this. We have thought and read and prayed and sought counsel. We have examined our own hearts and plumbed our minds. We are doing the best with what we have. It feels so presumptuous of me to make this decision for you. You can communicate to me when you are tired or hungry or want to be held. But beyond that? How can I possibly know what you would want? What decision you would ask us to make? I can't. I'm stepping out here. We're making this call for you, and on some level, it feels wrong. It feels like a violation of you, a strike at you, at the way God made you.
It is so clear to me that God brought us you. Just-the-way-you-are you. Congenital-CMV you. Feisty-powerful-full-of-personality you. Deaf you. And no part of me is trying to change you. I love you! This is not about that. This choice isn't a way for us to make you into our own image. It isn't about wanting you to hear us tell you we love you. It isn't about wanting you to share our love of music. It isn't about wanting you to speak at your high school graduation. I will treasure all those things, should they be in our future, but that is not our motivation. That is not our "why".
We truly believe this is the best for you. We're your parents, and for some crazy reason, God has entrusted us with this big decision. We don't make it on our behalf; we make it on yours. And no matter how this goes, whether it works or not, whether you hate me in ten years for this or not, at the very least, I want you to know that this is for you. We want to equip you. We want to give you the best shot. We want to ease a small part of the burden life has put on you.
Please don't ever think this is about making you someone you aren't. Please don't ever think that you aren't enough for us just the way you are. Please don't ever think that we wouldn't love you if you never once heard our voices or spoke to us. I know how life can twist you up and make you doubt things you thought you knew. This is one thing I never, ever, EVER want you to doubt. You are you, and God gave us you, and we love you. Just you. All your ups and all your downs, we are right here, holding your hand, smiling through tears. Our love, our relationship, has no conditions, not one. We are bound forever, and nothing can change that, not even death (and certainly not deafness).
2) I'm afraid.
It's not natural to send your child into pain. And at least when offset with the benefit of saving your kid's life, choosing surgery can seem easy. Of course you'd allow your child to feel pain if it means they get to live. But this? Elective surgery? It scares me. We're choosing this for you when it's not something you need to live. You could live a full and happy life without this.
I also don't know how it will play out. Truly that is what frightens me most. I don't know how the surgery will go. I don't know how much pain you will be in. I don't know what recovery will look like. I don't even know if the stupid thing will work. It's so much not knowing that I can't think of it all at once or I start to hurt.
3) I trust the Lord.
But despite this fear, when balanced out with all the reasons in the "pro" column, with all the possible benefits, with how - if this works - it could completely change your life, we are taking the plunge. And when I weed through all my anxieties and fears, when I push them back and fix my eyes on the incredible world this will open you up to, a world of singing birds and your brother's infectious giggle and Pentatonix and the hum of a house full of friends, I get so excited and cannot wait for you, for what waits for you.
I could spend all day bouncing between my fears and my excitements, living in that horrid suspension of anticipation that makes my stomach knot. Instead, I want to picture God. "The Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard." (Isaiah 52:12) Instead of all the what-ifs, good or bad, I have in my mind this picture of God, stepping out before you, before us, and making the way, then circling back to come behind and ensure our safety. I see it almost like the tender watchfulness of a preschool teacher, leading her charges across the street and keeping them as they move, her arms directing them and moving with assurance, cupping around behind them to protect them, a gentle hand on the smalls of their backs as they pass.
It is love that fills our God, love for you whose days He has numbered and whose hairs He has counted. And whatever comes of this, I trust. I trust that He seeks our good and His glory. I trust that He wants desperately for us to share in the love He has for us. I trust that He continually seeks to make Himself known to us, showing His grace and mercy and love at every turn. I trust that for all the joy that fills my heart at the thought of you hearing my voice, your dad's voice, your brother, God's road for you is best, better than anything I could contrive.
Once again, your extreme circumstances have shown me a truth that is at the heart of all our days. Your life is like a magnifying glass, and the assumptions that might have just passed me by get blown up in full relief. We all could spend our days bouncing between fear and excitement. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow and none of us know how that tomorrow will play out, not even with the "best-laid plans."
We all enjoy the provision and protection of a God who goes before us and who comes behind us. And when we move into His story, when we seek to see Him in our lives, we don't gain some magical understanding or come to know the future. We don't cash in on some promise to have all the money we'd ever need and health for eighty years. When we move into His story, we get God. And instead of fear and worry and anxiety and stress, we get rest and peace and joy and goodness. And I can hold my fear out on the palm of my hand and offer it to God. I don't have to bear it. It's not mine to hold.
So tomorrow, when they wheel you back and put you to sleep, when they implant a device into your head, when they dose you and send you back home, I want you to know most of all that God is with you. He has gone before you, and He will come behind you. And accompanying Him will be the prayers of His people. Your family, your church, your family's churches, your church's families - you have no idea how many people will be whispering your name, bringing you before God and asking Him to care for you. Honestly, there is no place here for fear. Love has taken up all the room.