I am not the type of person who is into losing control. I am about as planned, calculated, and predictable as they come. I spent the better part of my life believing I could control things (finances, relationships, people’s opinion of me), and as a result I sat in a prison of anxiety, people pleasing, and perfectionism. This all translated pretty heavily into the way I planned for and parented my first child, Sadie. To say I got pretty big for my britches the first 9 months of her life would be an understatement. To admit that I was this way, all the while claiming to lay my child at the feet of Jesus...well, that’s just embarrassing.
The halting screech to my idea of perfection and control, the abrupt unwinding of my “grip” on parenting started when doctors entered a hospital room and told me that Sadie had stage 4 Neuroblastoma. Cancer. In the throes of this battle and in the aftermath, my eyes were opened to one really ugly part of myself: the control freak. And I finally surrendered. When faced with a situation where you MUST completely trust God for the next breath, you cannot help but change.
Knowing what I know now, I’d love to play the Ghost of Christmas Future (think A Christmas Carol). I would visit Meghan, Christmas of 2013. I’d look at her with deep love and loads of grace, praying that she would listen. And this is what I’d say:
"I see you. I see you holding that bald, baby girl. You’ve spent this season trying to force gladness. It sucks, I know. But, it’s not your fault she is sick. It’s ok to feel sad, scared, and mad.
I know you. You’re not bad but you have always falsely assumed the role of “controller” out of fear and a desire to feel safe. This position is only held and deserved by One. God, in His faithfulness, will teach you to embrace your humanity and you’ll come to the realization that you are weak, by nature. BUT His “power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) When you decide to admit you’re human, you’ll be free to receive and lavish in the beautiful grace of Jesus Christ. It’s safe there. It takes the pressure off of you. And realistically, it was never on you in the first place.
You want to “do”, I can see it. So, do what you can do. Be Sadie’s mother and Jacob’s wife. Give Sadie the medicine she needs and take her to chemo. Take care of yourself. Laugh. Stay in your Bible. When you want to make it better and you just can’t, crawl to the throne of the One who knit Sadie together in your womb and ask Him to heal her body. Ask Him to bring His peace. God, in His faithfulness, will teach you: you are not your child’s healer. That responsibility lays solely in the hands of Jesus Christ. When you get the feeling that you haven’t “done” enough....take every thought captive. Remind yourself that He is in control and dedicate your daughter to the Lord. Do this again, and again, and again.
When questions arise, shift your focus to the sure promises of God and the ONLY thing you can hang your hat on: scripture. Is God sovereign, possessing supreme and ultimate power? Yes. (Mark 4:41) Does He love me, even if He chooses not to heal Sadie? Yes. (1 John 3:16) Can He be trusted? Yes. (Psalm 9:10).
I leave you with this, wherever all powerful Jesus is...that’s where you want to be...tough or not. And He is with you. So lay powerless in His arms. It’s the safest place there is.”
Sadie’s walk, our walk as parents, was tough. When she was initially diagnosed, the doctors told my husband and I:
-that her little body was more tumor than baby
-that her lung was collapsed
-that the cancer was stage 4, a genetic monster
-that it had certainly gone into her bones
-that her aorta and spinal column were compromised and she was at risk of paralysis
-that she needed cycles of chemo that would bring grown men to their knees
-that even given successful treatment, she would likely need an 8-12 hour dangerous surgery to remove the tumor
The 8 months that followed were grueling. I had to quit my full time job and our income was cut in half. We, as parents, were terrified but we chose early on to give our Sadie to Jesus, placing her on the altar before Him daily. And, He made our faith BIG. He showed off BIG. Just as God allowed me to receive this news, He allows me the honor of telling of the miracles we witnessed through our daughter and her battle with cancer.
-Her lung healed quickly
-Within days, the docs reduced her diagnosis to stage 3, admitting that their initial thoughts were not accurate
-Her main doctor delivered news of completely clear bone scans, with tears in his eyes
-God used radiation to quickly reduce swelling around her spine and she was never paralyzed
-Aside from losing her hair, that baby never had one side effect from chemo
-Treatment reduced the tumor to 35% of its original size. Scans showed NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE in the tissue therefore they didn’t even need to do surgery to remove it
-God provided twice my annual salary through the kindness of our community and people who were moved by Sadie’s story. We were never unable to stay afloat and did not go into a penny of debt for medical expenses.
I. could. not. make. this. up. ON MY BEST DAY, there’s not a chance my control or fixing or doing could produce an outcome even close. Whatever dumpster fire you find yourself facing, even if you have to lay in your bed at night and just say the name “Jesus”- HOLD. ON. Place a firm grip in the hand of Jesus and let the rest of it go. He is coming for you. Trust that He is good no matter what.
I can say this about myself. Outside the power of the Holy Spirit in me, I will always try to regulate situations, circumstances, and people...especially when it comes to my children. I must make a conscious decision to choose an “Abraham-puts-Isaac-on-the-altar” kind of attitude, doing the best I can, relinquishing always. There are legitimately scary things that can happen and they’ve happened to me. We have all been witness to the fact that things can spin out of control at any given moment. Sadie is 8 and healthy but in reality, she could relapse. She could be teased by other kids at school. Our relationship could get rocky as she gets older. Sadie could make poor choices in her life. And I CANNOT control one of these things. But I am only responsible for my reaction from now on. When the time comes, this I pray I can say... like the song, “So let go, my soul, and trust in Him...The waves and wind still know His name.”