The Shoe Is Now On The Other Foot
When I was in my 20’s, I felt like I was on top of the world. Everything revolved around me, my goals, and my career. I finished graduate school at the ripe old age of 23. There were 22 people in my class, and 20 of them had a desire to work in pediatrics. I was one of the other two. Guess who was offered the first position to work in pediatrics? Yep! Pediatric Constraint Induced Therapy actually really appealed to me because it was very different than any other setting. It was grounded in cutting edge neuromuscular research, and the kids who came through the program were seeing amazing results. I would be assigned to one family for 3 ½ weeks and focus solely on teaching that child to perform daily activities using a hand that they may have never even been aware existed due to an incident at birth. Different, neuro, research, intensive, good results. Sounded good to me. Oh, and the job was in Birmingham, where Daniel also happened to be, and it paid well. Sign me up.
The “constraint” part of this job came in when we put a cast on the normal functioning arm in order to prevent the child from using it. This would force her to use the affected hand. My small mind had no idea at that time what the Lord was doing. I simply thought He had answered my prayer to get a good job close to Daniel. Little did I know that He was laying the ground work for me to do a far greater task in my 30’s. Teaching a child to use an affected extremity. Managing a cast and the behaviors that go along with that frustration. Sounding familiar? I will say that even back in those days, I would have brief feelings of “Hmmmm….I had never planned anything like this.…I wonder where this is leading….”
People came to our program from all over the country, and I even had one family from Spain. They would stay in extended stay apartments or the Ronald McDonald House. I learned so much from these families who had researched and traveled and who were uncomfortable, away from home and making every kind of difficult sacrifice in attempts to help their children. I observed the emotional break downs of both the children and the parents. I thought about the financial ramifications. I wondered if they ever had bitter moments when they questioned why their child had to carry this burden.
In my Christian walk at that time, I would sort of look around and think of any “good deed” I could do that would fit comfortably into my busy schedule. Two that I often landed on were: sending a card to someone who was sick and taking a meal to the Ronald McDonald House. These were honestly more of items on my To Do list rather than hit-my-knees-and-beg-the-Lord-to-show-me-the-work-He-had-planned-for-me tasks. I had no idea how much these acts probably meant to the recipients. Fast forward fourteen years, and here I am on the receiving end. Now I am the mother at the mercy of healthcare professionals. When I encounter ones who obviously know that this job is bigger than themselves, it is such a breath of fresh air. When someone delivers a meal to the house where we are staying, it is one less thing we have to think about that day. When cards and care packages arrive for Jian, it helps to sooth our homesick hearts and to be reminded that “our village” loves us and is praying for us.
I have gotten to know some of the other families who are staying here a little bit, and so many have burdens far greater than ours. Some will be here for 6 months. Some have traveled as far as Saudi Arabia. Others are dealing with more life threatening illnesses. Probably every one of them have been told by multiple doctors that they needed to just amputate their child’s limb. But they had hope and refused to settle for that, and after years of research, here they are. I love learning more and more how the Lord weaves all of our lives together and how He uses our own personal ambitions to lay the ground work to accomplish great things for His kingdom and His people. May each of you be blessed for the role that you are playing on our journey. And who knows what the Lord is working out deep within your soul that you will look back on and connect the dots a decade from now!
“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”