"If ye being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father in Heaven give good things to them that ask him?"
Someone mentioned this scripture in a lovely talk in church today and I have been thinking of it ever since, though in a slightly different context. We have recently had some set-backs with Will and our hopes for his eating. We removed the ng tube in an effort to get him to develop normal biorythms with regard to food and to learn appropriate self-feeding techniques, two things he has been deprived of since tube placement at 14 months of age. For about a month, he did really well and I thought we had proved all the doctors wrong about Will. He was able to take in more calories by mouth than he had tolerated with the tube (he would vomit up the tube feeding sometimes as much as two or three times a day and always at least once a week) and some days he would even exceed his caloric intake requirements. But in the last few weeks his eating broke down, he began vomiting again, we were told that he is allergic to a broad spectrum of basic foods and his weight simply plateaued where it had been when we began our experiment. I realized, when I found myself fighting my poor little two year old every day (I reminded myself of Jillian Michaels at mealtimes, which, incidentally, lasted easily 90 minutes), that our experiment needed to end for all our emotional and physical health. Will needed help to gain enough weight/inches to catch up and at least be at the bottom of the charts.
Will's health has been a long-standing source of stress and anxiety for our family and I have often envied those around me who seemed have it so much easier than I do. (I know, of course, that so many people have far worse health concerns with their children and I must sound like such a complainer to go on the way that I do.)Once another mother commented on the fact that her 14 month old was the same height as my 2 and four month old and I felt a resentment against her for weeks thereafter. Who, after all, makes that kind of comment about a little child whose ng tube taped to his face makes obvious that there is a health issue present? I suppose I am still irritated about it.
It has only been recently that I have realized that Will's health problems will most likely be long-standing and that they will require a lot of effort and money to even just ameliorate, and that our family needs to adjust accordingly. This trial that we had convinced ourselves, after we were told it was not Cystic Fibrosis, would be grown out of soon enough, is going to be much longer and more difficult than expected.
Often when we talk about trials, we take comfort in believing that they are blessings in disguise, sent to us from a loving Heavenly Father and perfectly taylored by him to help us in whatever way He sees we stand in need. I am not sure that is true, and fairly sure that it is not always true, but I think the best arbiter of whether a given trial was sent from God is the person bearing the burden.
What I do know is true is that with every hardship that befall us, He is there to bless us and help us through, and that these trials really always are opportunities for us to grow as people. That growth can take many forms, but I suspect that it always includes an expanded charitable instinct. After all, what He offers us in these dark times is his perfect love. It seems natural that, when properly endured, our trials help us to develop some love of our own.
It does not matter to me whether God plagued us with Will's health issues in order to bless us and I tend to believe that He did not. But I have seen how it all has created some positive attributes in our home. Andrew is a more protective older brother, Will is the bravest, toughest kid I have ever seen, Brigham and I feel closer as a couple as we struggle to find answers and solutions, our attitudes about eating and exercise have changed and I have experienced a new sense of responsibility and accountability as a mother and a determination to take charge of all things and get them done correctly rather than let the details slip through and fall where they may. I have been learning to prioritize the most important things and let go of those little concerns that eat away so much of our time and energy but that really don't matter at all. My prayers have taken on a new fervor and all of this increased looking towards God has awakened me to the other aspects of our home life that have been neglected (FHE, for example). Brigham has eaten dinner with us during the week only twice since we have lived here and all of this exhaustion that has come with Will's needs has made us realize that we cannot maintain this lifestyle. Our lifestyle, which is best characterized by "single mother with a government-level income in a really expensive area," is far from ideal. Brigham is missing out on these early years with our kids, and I am, too, to a degree because I allow the stress of it all to interfere with my appreciation for its beauty. We would probably continue on in this way indefinitely, as this is how most people out here live, but for Will's health and our dawning realization that a lot of things need to change to help get him better.
Will's health has been a hardship of origin unknown, but it has been surrounded by gifts that I can feel are from God.