That Which Doesn't Kill Me, Doesn't Make Me Stronger
I have never wanted to be a superhero. Superman wears a cape and red underwear to perform his civic duties. Batman wears a mask and special gloves to save the world. Wonder Woman wears a silk bikini and magic bracelets to ward off the bad guys. Spiderman wears pajamas for his strength, and on and on and on it goes. Superheroes. Beings that always win the battle, no matter what. I've never been a fan of superheroes, and now in my forties, even less.
Why don't I like superheroes? I do not like superheroes because there are no battle wounds, no life long scars, no emotional responses. No brokenness. I cannot relate to such a superficial, one dimensional reality. I would love to wake up one day and be "over it.' To put the years of pain, fear, and trauma as it relates to my little son with Noonan Syndrome completely to rest--to find that reset button, or magic wand. Instead the twists and turns of my journey keep dragging my toes into deep, deep sand that I cannot outrun. Healing is a long, slow journey. Healing comes, but not all at once; and certainly not quickly enough.
So often, oh, so very often, I hear the phrase, "That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger," as penned by Nietzsche. I don't concur. That which doesn't kill you leaves you with wicked, deep scars in your psyche, deep-seated fears--both rational and irrational--and an altered view on life. I'm not saying that we "don't become something better" in some ways, that is true for most of us. But to throw out the blanket statement that "it" makes you "stronger", without acknowledging the cost of that strength is shamefully naive.
I took on the challenge of writing this for those in our lives who "don't get it." For those who look at our kids in a snapshot of life, wearing a smile and assume all is well. The past is in the past. Who say to us, "it's for a reason" or "God knew you could handle it." Oh, dear friends and family members of special needs families--those are just lies. Stupid, religious memes.
Our scars come with labels and dates: surgeries, transplants, emergency room visits, hospitalizations, infusions, chemotherapy, etc. We have emotional triggers, mental battles and a firm grasp of the Latin roots of medical terminology. We laugh hard and cry hard. We crave normalcy. Some days we need relationship, some days we need a quiet place, some days we have no clue what we need!
Recently I went to see, The Shack with a few friends (sorry ladies, I could NOT stop the tears!). Without referring to "the loss" less the waterworks start again the movie clearly shows that there is horrific pain in this thing we call, "life." But pain is not created, nor governed by God. God is incapable of creating pain, allowing pain, or anything of the like. God is good--and only good--patiently waiting for a relationship with His people who choose to acknowledge Him. The evil and sin and brokenness we experience while here on earth creates pain and judgment; us being the judge of who God is and who God is not--too often making God the scapegoat of our experience, the target of our blame. But when we choose to walk our life alongside God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit it is then that a journey of change and healing and blessing can come to fruition. And might I emphasize journey? Life certainly doesn't come with a reset button! Believe me, we wish it did!
Be patient with us. Be understanding. Choose to acknowledge we may not react in the ways you would wish. Watching our children live with pages worth of conditions, changes us. Being unable to take the pain away can take us to our knees--over and over. We never know what the next day will bring, what sickness our child will contract, or what life threatening disease will blind-side us. We walk our journey blind, and alone. And each one of us deals with these things differently. We experience joy just like you. We love fiercely, just like you. We have good days and bad days, just like you. But please don't slap our hands when we react negatively to the weirdest things, or at the stupidest times! Our wounds tend to bleed at the most inconvenient of moments!
I think about all the parents who have lost their babies, who met their babies for moment and then they were gone--or never got the chance to meet them. I think about all the parents who lost their child to an untimely death. And I grieve deeply. Your pain is far deeper than mine. You are on a horrifically, hard journey as well. Yet somehow I get it.