This was written in December of 2007. It was my testimonial that I gave when Charlie was a little more than three months old.
The gift of Charlie
My life was just recently divided by a very clear “before” and “after.” On August 30th of this year, my second son Charlie was born. At his birth we discovered that he has Down syndrome. My life “after” officially began. This may sound silly, but to really understand where I was coming from you have to realize that everything in my life always went according to plan. My plan. It was all well thought out and perfectly orchestrated by me with a little help from the Lord – but only if I needed it.
I had always thought my faith was strong. I was a good Christian. I went to church, bible study (I even did the homework), prayed and did things for others. It was all clean and orderly. Not messy.
Life became messy after Charlie’s birth. I felt feelings and emotions that I didn’t even know existed. I experienced the amazing love that only a mother can feel for her child. But initially other feelings took center stage. Sorrow. Worry. Fear. Anxiety. Concern about how this would affect my marriage, and my older son Henry’s life. I couldn’t even begin to think about the future – that would paralyze me – the fear of the unknown was too much to handle.
I’m a pretty strong person with a “can do” attitude, so I decided to tackle our new challenges head on (though that didn’t seem to slow down the sudden tears or pity parties that I would throw for myself.) I decided that I would be the best mom ever. Charlie would receive the best medical care, therapy – whatever he needed he would have it. This sounded great in theory, however I still couldn’t even go to the grocery store for fear of loosing it. (Although I have since broken down many times at the store and survived.)
However, I wasn’t sure how to tackle the issue of God’s role in my life “after.” How could he allow this to happen? Didn’t he understand the challenges and pain that Charlie would have to go through in his life? My heart would break with fear when I pictured my baby growing up in our cold dark world.
People said that they were praying for us. I welcomed it, but I couldn’t myself. I was angry. Ironically, when I was the most upset I realized that I was worried about myself – how would this change my life, how would people respond to me? How selfish I was.
At the end of September (when Charlie was only three weeks old) I packed up the boys and headed to church for bible study. I was hoping to find the same comfort and knowledge through the teaching that I had experienced before. I was also looking forward to meeting with my small group again. Maybe even experience some healing along the way.
When it was time for listening prayer, the focus was on forgiveness. “HA!” I though – and I will always remember this – I’m still waiting for my apology from God. I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to pray. However, the Lord met me. My mind was totally clear and at rest. He spoke very clearly and said that he was waiting for me. When I was ready he would provide me peace, joy and patience.
Slowly, as the days and weeks went by, I began to open up – exposing myself, as I was – raw, hurt and with a dead faith.
The Lord began speaking directly to me. He used the “words of the day” that our bible study leader would share with our group each week. “Trust me. He sees me and loves me. He is here to bring healing. Choose to believe the truth for it is good news. Wake up! Put your hope in Christ alone. Those who choose to forsake all else to pursue Him will not be disappointed.” I think you could title each week of my life in the last few months with those words.
It became clear to me that I had bought into some major stereotypes about life. Didn’t God promise us happiness? Wasn’t that my right? I don’t think I realized the stronghold Satan had on my life. He had found entry into my heart and I had turned his lies into truth.
It was the beginning of a war in my heart and my mind. Satan saw me as an easy target, but thankfully the Lord is stronger.
As I would begin to see hope, joy, and experience my love for Charlie blossoming, Satan would take his best shots at me. This could ruin your marriage – the statistics are against you. Poor you, all of your dreams have been shattered. Wouldn’t it have been better to know he had Down syndrome while you were pregnant so that you could have “taken care of things?”
Reading and research of Charlie’s diagnosis could be very overwhelming, exciting (so many new discoveries), and heart breaking. With earlier prenatal testing more and more women are likely to choose termination if they receive a prenatal diagnosis. Well over 90% already do today. What did all of this mean for my son’s future? Would he have any friends that also had Down syndrome? What’s next termination based on hair color? How could I raise my children in a world so focused on perfection and earthly ideals?
The worry and fear of not being able to control the future could consume me. How could the Lord allow so much pain, worry and confusion in my life? I was so angry that I had to raise my son in a world that was so full of evil. It was becoming very clear that I would never be able to find the peace and understanding that I was searching for on my own.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
I was fully believing the lies of the enemy first and not the Lord. I was looking at my circumstances with the Lord on the other side.
Time began to heal my wounds, but it was the blood of Jesus, becoming real in my life that allowed the Lord to help me grow and break free from Satan’s grip – to regain what he had stolen from me.
I have come to the beautiful realization that God’s ways are not mine. He has a plan and my ideas may not fit into his. How can I just accept this? The good news – that history has been written and that Jesus wins!
The Lord has a beautiful plan for me and for Charlie, and the rest of my family. It may not be what I envisioned, but he is there with me providing me with all I need. He gives me all the provision necessary – even when I think it isn’t what I may need at the time.
No matter how my circumstances in life may change, the Lord will always remain the same. What freedom he has given us!
Satan no longer has his grip on my life. His evil ways were filling my mind with useless worry about my son – how others would receive him – and taking the joy of becoming a parent again away from me. His grip was dark, bleak, unforgiving, and deadly.
The Lord is much stronger. Through him I began to live. I felt true peace for the first time. Joy, love and understanding followed. He promises us so much more even beyond this life – he promises us eternal life! It is done. Praise the Lord! Jesus wins! How can my heart not be full of joy?
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
With the Lord in my heart and as I live by his word, I have truly been brought back to life. His truth is stronger than all of Satan’s lies. While I may joke that God didn’t really need to go to such extremes to get his “lost sheep” back, part of me thinks he did. He will go to great lengths to keep his flock together.
I hope I haven’t painted too rosy of a picture. But the Lord and I see Charlie just as he is – perfect. No matter the world’s opinion.
I’m sure it may sound a bit strange or too early for me to feel totally at peace with Charlie’s diagnosis, but I can truly say that I am. I know that there will be plenty of challenges ahead – but that’s just life. Charlie’s birth has given my life more depth and meaning in three months than any other experience in my entire life. Many of the clichés have become truth.
The irony is that we don’t give ourselves enough credit. I have discovered that I am stronger than I ever imagined. My faith has exploded and blessings abound in my life. My marriage has never been better. I have a greater appreciation for everything that life has to offer. I have become a better friend, mother, sister, and wife. I’m more empathetic. I think my son is beautiful. And most importantly I have found the Lord – the God of the Universe.
It has been a long and beautiful journey, one that I have only just begun. It will be tough at times, but the joys will be so great – and they will only occur with more frequency.
Ironically, as I was looking up scripture that the Lord has used during this journey bringing me back to him, I flipped to Romans. I was intending to read Romans 12:12, but first landed on Romans 5:1-5. The title in my bible was Peace and Joy. Two of the three words God had promised me. The third word was patience. It seems as though God was following his own timeline and waiting for the right time to use these particular words in my life. I can only hope that I remember patience for the Lord has a plan for me – we will continue to follow his timeline, but rest assured he will provide me with all I need.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
I also know that through him I can accomplish anything. In the beginning of this journey I saw “before” and “after” differently than I do today. “Before” I was dead. “After” I have been transformed by the love of Jesus and brought to life – living my life for the Lord and truly experiencing the peace, and joy he promised me, and the praise and thanksgiving that is alive in my heart. I have chosen life. I have chosen Charlie.
I wanted to share this as my first “official” blog entry. The Lord continues to amaze me as he reveals His plans. It was through many prayers, time spent with other believers and quiet time with the Lord that I was finally able to realize what role “patience” played in his original message to me. The Lord still needed to soften my heart – he has always had a purpose for my life – selected perfectly for me. It took a while for me to realize it. Only in his time was it revealed. His purpose for me is to raise Charlie with courage. To share our story with others. To carry this torch of “mother” with grace. I am to do this to glorify Him – to further his kingdom by sharing the blessing of Charlie with the world. So that glory – God’s glory – shines all around my son.