She Gets It

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Last Monday and Tuesday were cold and rainy days. I don't think the sun even poked through the clouds once.

At that point I had not started my Christmas shopping or decorating. My house was covered with scaffolding, not twinkle lights. The yard had a nice dusting of sheetrock, not snow. And if any of my holiday party clothes are still in style, I wouldn't know it because my closet doors have been taped shut for over a month. {If you see me out and about, now you know why I have been wearing the same pair of jeans and gray sweater for weeks now.}

Last Tuesday afternoon, as I wheeled Virginia through the front doors of school to head home, I was overcome with a feeling of dread just at the thought of facing the rest of the day.

I struggled to get my large umbrella open and properly angled so that Virginia wouldn't get soaking wet. Wills jumped onto the side of her wheelchair and hung on tight, leaning his face in towards hers to keep his head out of the rain.

I was trying, unsuccessfully I might add, to hold the umbrella, push the wheelchair, and run to get the kids out of the rain. It wasn't fun and I was just not in a good mood.

But when I leaned around the umbrella to see if Virginia was staying dry, I realized that she was laughing hysterically. She literally could not get her breath because she was laughing so hard.

She didn't care if she got a little wet or if her hands were cold. Running through the rain with her brother was exhilarating and it was certainly more exciting for her than our usual trek home.

Wills went from complaining that I forgot his frog umbrella to squealing right along with Virginia and I quickly followed suite. Her laughter highlighted the foolishness of all that I had been stewing over.

I was reminded of something very important last Tuesday. Virginia is better at finding the joy in life than I am. Her circumstances are much harder than I could ever comprehend, and yet she is the first to celebrate.

She's not worried about what comes next. She's not preoccupied with mourning how hard her life is. She always laughs at the first opportunity.

I know that part of Virginia's joy is because she is a child, but I think part of it is one of the gifts God gave her. It is one of the saving graces of this otherwise impossible situation.

I also know that Virginia feels secure and loved in our family. She trusts us. This frees her up to let go of her worry because she knows we will take care of her. She knew on Tuesday that if she got wet, I would have a warm blanket and dry clothes waiting.

Well, Someone who loves me very much has my back, too. When I reflect on the low points of the last seven years {and there are a lot}, He was always present. Always ready to pick me up and dry me off.

I should feel safe in His presence, free to let go of my worries and more willing to laugh in the face of a cold, driving rain. But I struggle with opening my eyes to the joys of the present because I am so focused on the storms that may lay ahead.

No one would choose to have Virginia's struggles and there is obviously something sad about her forced dependence on us for her every need. But there is also something beautiful about letting go and trusting that you will be loved and protected.

Last Friday night Virginia was invited to a Christmas dance for all the girls in first grade. They had their make-up done, ran around the ballet studio, and then settled in to learn the steps to a short dance. I struggled with taking her because she can't dance. It would look weird for me to hold her the whole time, but her wheelchair is a little awkward in a conga line.

But I asked her if she wanted to go, and she did. I pushed her chair along with the other dancers for as long as I could, and when it got too complicated, we watched from the sidelines. She couldn't have been any happier.

Her attitude humbles me.

I went from worrying that the other mothers had noticed my love handles in one of the numerous floor to ceiling mirrors in the studio to having a wonderful time with my precious daughter.

She, who has everything in the world to be self-conscious about, is able to let it all go and celebrate life.

Virginia will never have most of what this world says is important, but she shows us that we really don't need it anyway.

"So the last will be first, and the first will be last." Matthew 20:16