I heard a story yesterday that has stayed with me. A family travelled from Alabama to Ohio for treatment for their daughter at Cincinnati Children's Hospital (the same hospital that cares for my daughter). While their daughter was recovering from surgery, hospital staff found the mother dead in the child's room from an apparent drug overdose. The father was passed out in the bathroom but was revived by the team that was supposed to be attending to his sick child. Both parents had guns found on them. The mother was gone and the father was arrested. The child was left alone.
There are many reasons to be bothered by this story...the drugs, the guns, the children who will suffer. The thing that I keep thinking about is what was going on in the minds of these parents. What makes you think you need to have a loaded gun with you when you enter a children's hospital with your baby? What makes you think you should bring needles and heroin with you into your child's hospital room? Those questions I cannot answer.
There is one question that I can address, though...What makes you do something extreme, crazy, or even possibly out-of-character when your child is in the hospital?
I haven't crossed a line to the extent of these parents but as a parent of a child that has spent a lot of time in the hospital, I've done and said things that I later wished I had not. Watching your child endure surgical procedures and medical treatments and miss out on normal childhood development and playtime is very trying on parents. It takes a toll on you and pushes you to near breaking points. Everyone handles the stresses and pressures that go along with this life differently but the thing that gets you through one day and wakes you up to start the next is a choice. A choice to see either the horrible, awful, and hurting that surrounds you or the good, kind, and loving. They are both there.
This choice is not easy. Every day the choice is before you. Sometimes multiple times a day. I'll be honest, I don't always make the right choice. Sometimes the hard is too hard and I feel like I'm drowning. Sometimes it feels like its more than I can handle, more than anyone could handle. There are times that you want to not have to feel that anymore.
Drugs are not the answer. Guns are not the answer. Hurting your child is not the answer. Hurting yourself is not the answer.
The choice is the answer.
I've met people who endure so much pain as they watch their child suffer. In many cases the suffering lasts for weeks, months, or even years. Sometimes the children do not survive and those parents must continue on without their children. These people can still smile, still laugh, and still find joy.
There have been two Ronald McDonald House mamas who were living in the house at the same time as me who were arrested in the hospital for endangering their child. One of those moms I talked with daily. I ate meals with her and she was a friend to me at a time when things were very hard. I would have never guessed that she was doing the things that were videotaped of her doing. Her life was hard, her child was sick, and she made a choice.
I'm not defending the people who have done some very bad things. I'm saying that there is something that happens when you are pushed to the edge. In a split second, you don't always know what choice you will make.
So what helps you make the right choice?
Surround yourself with loving and supportive people. If you don't think you know anyone like that, keep looking until you find them. You may also need to let go of the people who are not loving and supportive.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:12-13
Constantly be on the lookout for blessings around you and focus on them. Even in some of the hardest and lowest times with my daughter, I could always see blessings. If you start noticing them during your good and neutral times, it will help you find them in the hard times more easily.
The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.
Know that even if the worst case scenario happens, you can handle it. We have been told on a few occasions that our daughter might not survive for one reason or another. That is my worst case scenario. The way I handle that is to constantly focus on the fact that this world is a blip on the radar of God's plan for us. We are promised Eternal Life if we believe in Jesus Christ and follow Him. Eternal Life means that an Earthly death is not our end and does not have to be feared.
For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:40
You always have a choice. And the best part is, if you make the wrong choice, it's not the end either.
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. Acts 3:19