“What I ought to do is take a flame thrower to this place!”
I saw an article the other day where the author essentially asked of the reader, “Have you ever wanted to just rip a year down off the wall and burn it?”
This past year had been very unkind to the writer and so she literally took a calendar book representing 2015 and burned it in advance of the coming new year.
My first thought when I read that was “I’ll get the lighter fluid.” My second thought was to remember the line above uttered by Robert DeNiro’s character in the movie “Scent of a Woman.”
The past year was the most difficult, challenging, and panful year of my own life. I experienced so many emotions from depression, despair, futility, and a sense of hopelessness.
And I bet many of you can relate.
I spend a month in the hospital and left with a diagnosis of a chronic disease from which there is no cure. I spent 6 months in a leg cast and ultimately had to learn to walk again on a permanently deformed foot.
Every night I spend nine hours hooked to a machine for treatment while I sleep. Without it, I will simply die.
All the while my son still deals with his autism, his cerebral palsy, and his epileptic seizures.
A well-meaning friend jokingly calls me his friend “Job.”
But I’m no Job. Job kept his faith and only dared to question God one time. I have found myself in the bottom of the pit questioning God and my beliefs about Him over and over.
Job never doubted. I can’t say the same about Jeff.
But as much as I like the idea of burning 2015 and pretending it never happened, to do so would deprive me of so many things for which I am grateful.
And that’s the thing about life. The areas that bring us the biggest challenges and the most pain often produce the biggest blessings in our lives as well.
The life of a special needs parent is so demanding, so stressful, and at times so challenging. Yet that same life presents us with beauty and goodness that so many people never get a glimpse at in their own lives.
We learn the essence of unconditional love. We learn to embrace sacrifice. We learn to treasure the simplest of things in life and find happiness and contentment in the small things.
We love our kids not because of anything they accomplish or achieve but simply and unconditionally because they are our kids.
So despite the pain and misery that I experienced in 2015, I was overwhelmed by beauty and goodness throughout the journey.
I experienced the love of a wife who laid down her own life to become my caregiver. I experienced the love of my family who each in their own unique ways nurtured me back to health physically, emotionally, and relationally. They stepped in to fill the gap when I needed it most.
I was overwhelmed with love by so many friends who care deeply for me and my family.
And every night, no matter how difficult my day has been, I go to my son’s room, my sanctuary if you will. When that nonverbal young man sees his dad come to swing him, he always flashes me a grin that melts my heart. Sometimes, he even falls asleep with his head on my shoulder.
And as he reaches up to hug my neck, I pause for just a moment. And though it’s quiet, in my heart I can hear that old familiar hymn.
“It is well…it is well…with my soul.
Love fiercely, run the race, and finish strong.