I have spent the last few weeks reading over the emails you sent at my request in my previous post. It has been emotional remembering the day that our lives changed forever and appreciating those of you who shared how our story has affected you. Thank you. It made me remember that our hearts weren’t the only ones that broke that day. Many of you were right there along side us, holding us up by your love and prayers. You’ve cried with us. You’ve grieved with us. You’ve celebrated with us. You’ve stood along side us, watching Elena grow into the beautiful, joyful, silly six-year old that she is. Thank you.
Especially touching were from a few people, who somehow stumbled upon Elena’s story and shared how it had blessed them. One from Christy, who doesn’t know us, just happened across my blog one day. She told the most beautiful story of how she found hope in our story, that gave her strength when walking through her own valley. Her journey was different but also familiar and her words really touched me.
“Then I remembered Elena, and your journey. I looked to your blog to find hope, and inspiration. I saw how your faith was carrying you through…..It helped me see that I may have lost something that was our ‘normal’ but gained something even greater in our new ‘normal’.”
Thank you, Christy.
Another came from Patty, also someone we’ve never met, but has found inspiration in Elena’s story and has been praying for our girl for six years. It always amazes me how far Elena’s light shines and the people whose hearts have been touched by her. I’m a firm believer that God works his way into our hearts, encouraging us through our troubles, through people. And it’s a honor to know that in spite of the heartbreak of her injury, and the difficult road it set our family on, God continues to use us to declare His goodness. Thanks Patty, you touched my heart.
Opening yourself up to vulnerability is a scary thing. There are many times where I second guess myself about how much I share, how much I feel, but in my heart I know someone may be out there who needs to hear that they aren’t alone. I’m always so inspired when I hear or read someone else who is brave enough to share their story, and simply say, “me too” or “I’ve been there”. This is my “me too”. And not just how we cope with the challenges of having a special needs child. But also, just being a Mom. Being a person, who has feelings and struggles and shortcomings. I’m very aware that because of the blog and because of what our family has been through, people have watched to see how we react, how we cope and how we live our life. I’m sure some can’t relate or think we’re nuts. Some probably put us on a pedestal and give us way too much credit. And some of you maybe get it. That we are just like everyone else, maybe a different set of circumstances, but still in need of grace every single moment of every day. We just do our best (totally imperfect with this too!) to hand our burdens over to the only one who willingly, joyfully carries them for us, Jesus.
This time of year is increasingly reflective. I think about years’ past, and all the memories we have of holidays before. But also reflect upon what the past year has been, full of peaks, full of valleys or full of both. It’s also a good time of year to slow down (yeah right?!?) from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season that we can all reflect upon the impact our lives have on others. Good and bad. Are our words and actions full of anger, bitterness, resentment? Or are they chock full of love, grace and kindness. Do we build people up with encouragement and comfort? Or are we desperate to remain holed up in our hurt and our injustices, spewing it to those around us? This time of year is all about peace, humility, giving and kindness. Let’s strive to reflect that, not only amidst the holidays, but in our hearts and in the treatment of those we love and those around us.
Words can bless our hearts, as in the meaningful emails you sent me last month. And words can be bristly, hurtful and build walls. Showing kindness, sharing our stories with another, and encouraging others should all be on our Christmas lists this year. You never know when your words or actions (intentional or not) can be the change in someone’s life.
**You can now email thoughts, responses or whatever (nice, of course!) at firstname.lastname@example.org