As I read the story tonight, Alex had a contemplative look on his face. When I finished, he remained still. Finally he broke the silence - "Mommy, you need friends to take you to Jesus. Then he would fix your lungs so you could breathe. You can't run. You can't play in the snow or go swimming with me. That must make Jesus very sad. If your friends took you to him he would want you to be all better."
We had a long talk about how sickness does make Jesus sad - and how sometimes it makes us sad too. We talked about how much we'd both like for me to be able to do those things with him - and about all the fun things I can do. We talked about how perhaps one day Jesus will choose to heal me. We talked about all the friends who have taken me to Jesus - in prayer. But something that's wonderful about Jesus, is that he never does the same thing the same way twice. He makes each person's story unique - each person's encounter with him is special in its own way.
After leaving Alex's bedside, I was inundated with memories of friends praying with me - of encouraging cards - of uplifting emails - of tearful hugs - and of people rolling up their sleeves and helping me - helping my family - in ways we so desperately needed it. I remembered friends grocery shopping for us - and cleaning our toilets. I remember friends sobbing with us - and loving on our children when Aaron was holding my barely conscious hand in the hospital.
I remember one morning sitting in Tuesday Morning Bible Study - and having two separate friends feel the burning need for me to be prayed over. That morning God gave them the role of the friends who were to bring their sick friend to Jesus. During that special, intimate prayer time God worked on some hearts, and someone gave me an encouraging word as to perhaps one of the "deeper" reasons I have this illness. And that day something was healed inside of me.
After Bible study concluded I went shopping (with the kiddos) at the mall, and for the first time in months I was able to walk the length of the mall - at a normal speed - without thinking I was going to pass out - without my face turning red (a sign of how hard my heart was pumping to try oxygenate my blood). And a month or two later one of those friends "just happened" to be with me when I got an impromptu chest x-ray done - and saw that my heart appeared to be healed. Two years ago, when I was first diagnosed with PH, the right side of my heart was 2.5 times larger than the left side (it's supposed to be smaller than the left). But that x-ray showed my heart to be the PERFECT size. "Every good and perfect gift comes from above." (James 1:17a). I'm convinced that day - the day those two friends tore through a ceiling to get me to Jesus - was when he finished re-remodeling my heart. But how do I explain all of that to a four-year-old boy? I'm not so sure I SHOULD.
This isn't MY illness. It's God's. It's his to do with what he wishes. It's not that I don't have enough faith for Him to heal me. It's not that others haven't prayed diligently enough for my healing to come to fruition. It's that His work isn't done - His work in my life - His work in my family's life - and perhaps, just perhaps, His work in your life either. I don't fool myself that I'm sick so that "the collective you" can learn from the lessons I'm learning. I'm not that conceited. But God's permitted me to be blessed, as I've spoken with various people, to see how He's also using this illness - His illness - for a greater purpose than just my own maturation.
Today I'm sick. Only God fully knows why - and only He knows for how long. But at least one thing IS for certain. My illness is teaching Alex invaluable Biblical lessons in a real, in-your-face kind of way that he probably wouldn't learn any other way at his age. It's not an easy path I'm walking. As Christians we're told to expect life to be a difficult path - Jesus said to "take up [your] cross and follow me" (Mark 8:34). I know that my God is big enough to have this illness "work together for GOOD" (Romans 8:28) in my children's lives. It's just ... sometimes conversations break my heart. I'm overwhelmed with Alex's love for me. I'm overwhelmed that I'm not like all the other Mommies he knows. And sometimes I'm at a loss to find words that he'll understand ... especially when I don't fully understand myself. After all, he's still four - I wasn't expecting to have such tough conversations with him at this age.
Excuse me, while I go get another tissue.