What do you say?
Sweet boy. Today you are exactly 1 month away from turning 3. You are inquisitive and lovely. The questions roll in all day. Questions about the sky and trains. Questions about things that make you chuckle. We have a computer in our kitchen–momma’s workstation and it resorts to entertaining us with an endless stream of photos. You love to watch them go by as we eat our meals. And you ask questions. What’s that? Why is that happening? Can we go on an airplane today?
Today a picture you hadn’t seen before popped on the screen. And it had you questioning and me searching for words. You saw that beautiful picture of your legs weeks after surgery at a post-op appointment. They looked raw and healing. You were on the exam table. And you questioned me. Today I wasn’t prepared for it. Eggs were burning on the stove. Kai was screaming because I wasn’t moving fast enough. Dishes everywhere, crumbs flying. Real life people. And I had to pause in that chaos and give you an answer. What on earth am I suppose to say to “momma what’s that?”
Cade: “but why?”
“Well (swallowing hard), you were born with a sweet little foot on your left leg. It had a big toe and two little toes. And we loved it. But it would have made it hard for you to run like the wind. It was missing an ankle joint like momma’s foot (pointing to my ankle). So Dr. Kasser at Children’s Hospital helped give you strong, straight legs that fit nicely in your prosthetics by taking away your foot.”
Cade looked satisfied. But it didn’t feel right yet. I was still uncomfortable. To make myself feel better I said, “God made you exactly how he wanted you so that you could do great things.” And his brows furrowed for just a split second and he said, “can I be excused please.” And I cringed. For whatever reason those words stung me too as they left my lips. And my invisible hand did what it always wants to do. Shake my fist at the sky and say “why. Lots of people do great things with two legs. Why does this sweet little boy have to deal with this?”
So, why does that bandaid phrase suck so bad? And why was I uncomfortable as his momma? All I can think of is that that phrase is a platitude that masks the real conversation and ends what could be a beautiful conversation about the not so beautiful in life being made lovely because we have a great God who redeems. Because good can and DOES come out of the not so lovely. But we smack that sentence on a deep feeling of wrong or a deeply held feeling of entitlement for what we name as good.
Everyone has something that holds them back. Whether your eyes aren’t so good, you’re battling depression or anxiety or weight has always been an issue. Perhaps you’re crippled by fear of failure or don’t see the innate value you have as a human being. We battle an almost constant influx of fears and failures. Or we really do have physical limitations that prevent us from running like the wind. We battle society and “norms”, our expectations or those placed on us by another. We battling aging bodies.
Do I really believe that Cade was made specifically to have a physical abnormality or do I rest in the understanding that we live a broken world where things are “not quite right” and this in turn, if we choose to see it, points us heavenward to a hope of perfection and unity with a creator who actively loves His creation. You see I can’t wrestle these deep questions for Cade without confronting the spiritual aspect to human beings. And we do our best to glide through life not confronting these sorts of things because they are uncomfortable or it’s deemed by our society as politically incorrect. But we do ourselves a disservice if we do not dig deep and search. Because what if there is more?
Here’s what I wish I would have said:
“Sweet Cade. You asked me why you had healing scabs on your legs and I explained why you had to have a surgery. We are blessed to live in this time when prosthetic legs are so good. Mr. Arthur (our prosthetist) does a great job making sure you can run like the wind and you will find that you are able to do just about anything in life because of these great gifts. I want you to know that you are not alone. Every single person is battling something, sometimes it isn’t so obvious and people hold their hurt and differences deep inside. You will find through life that things might be a little bit harder or you might need to do things in a slightly different way because of your leggies. But I promise it isn’t forever, we live in this world for a set number of days but we have a hope that the God we love has made a way for us to be with Him in a perfect place where prosthetics aren’t needed. While we are here we seek to do good all our days, whether we have feet or not. We choose kindness, we choose to love, we choose to give our energy and resources to make this world better for everyone. You have the remarkable opportunity to bring God glory because you do not have feet. Just like I have the remarkable opportunity to bring Him glory because I do.”
John 9: 1-4 “As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Teacher,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins.” Jesus answered, “He was born blind so the power of God could be seen in him. All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end.”