This morning I read another small section of Elisabeth Elliott’s book Keep a Quiet Heart. In the chapter entitled There Are No Accidents, Elisabeth talks about interviewing Judy Squier. Judy was born with no legs, so Elisabeth asked Judy to write a letter to the parents of a little boy born without arms or legs. I quote from part of the letter that Judy wrote to these parents:
“’What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Creator calls a butterfly.’ As humanity we see only the imperfect, underside of God’s tapestry of our lives. What we judge to be ‘tragic – the most dreaded thing that could happen,’ I expect we’ll one day see as the awesome reason for the beauty and uniqueness of our life and our family.”
She goes on…….the whole section is excellent and struck a deep chord in my heart. But my mind has been on that caterpillar and butterfly all day. You see, last November I wrote a blog about how Aaron found a butterfly and how he wanted me to hold it. It was a special moment for me that taught me such a sweet lesson. Today I’m thinking of other aspects of that butterfly……who was first a caterpillar.
I’m thinking of the day that we first heard Aaron’s diagnosis of Epilepsy. I remember how shattered I felt as I sat at my desk that night in Germany. Our little blond headed blue eyed son had what? Epilepsy? What does it mean? What WOULD it mean? And I cried, deep sobs of pain and acceptance. Nine years later……another doctor, another place, yet another diagnosis. Autism? Asperger’s Syndrome? What does it mean? What WOULD it mean? And again, when the children were asleep, I cried deep sobs of more pain and more acceptance.
Pain and acceptance have been our familiar companions all along this journey with Aaron. I know that many other parents feels this pain, some more acutely and more severely than we ever will. The pain of medical tests….the pain of medicines for this and more medicines for that….the pain of hospitals…….the pain of IEP’s in school…..the pain of moving and having to introduce our child all over again in our new world…..the pain of his questions…..the pain of peer rejection……the pain of trying to understand what makes him tick and what just ticks him off, and why……the pain of my guilt when I blow it and I erupt along with Aaron…..the pain of questioning God……
Pain comes naturally. Acceptance is a decision that I make. Acceptance is usually slower. It certainly has been for me. Maybe he’ll get all better with time. Maybe the seizures will go away after puberty. Maybe this new drug will do the trick. Maybe he can have surgery. Maybe the VNS will kick in. Maybe it’s not really as serious as all that. Maybe the autism will improve with this diet. Maybe those guys will be Aaron’s friend. Maybe Aaron won’t move so much and talk so much during church today. Maybe he won’t be grouchy when his bus comes to pick him up today. Maybe he’ll just love his day group. Maybe he can hold a job one day and be like everyone else. Most of the maybes don’t happen…….and acceptance slowly sinks in. Reality of life with Aaron has been slow going……very slow going.
But it’s not the end of the world. It may the end of the world as we know it as far as our hopes for Aaron in certain areas……….but just like that caterpillar, there is beauty in this life that God has given us. “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Creator calls a butterfly.” I held a butterfly that day last fall as I stood outside with Aaron, and I hold a butterfly in my life as I look at Aaron. That’s because God is sovereign, and He has a plan for Aaron and a plan for our life with Aaron. It’s a plan of beauty, even when I can’t see it as such.
I have to hold on to that truth on the bad days, the sad days, the worried days, the heart-rending days of this life. Oh, we have laughter and delight with Aaron but underneath it all are the concerns and the frustrations and the weight of always thinking about our special son. And I deeply feel the weight of so many other moms……friends that I love and friends that I hurt for as well as they fight this fight and live this life for their special children.
I want to tell them that God is weaving a beautiful tapestry of their lives. They don’t feel it or see it any more than I do on many days, but God truly is a God of purpose and beauty. So we lift each other up, we cry together, we pray for each other, we try to encourage one another……and we trust our sovereign Heavenly Father even when He doesn’t seem to answer our prayers in the way we want.
Acceptance…..of Who God is…..and how much He loves me and He loves Gary, and Andrea and Andrew…..and especially our special Aaron. I want to hug my other moms of special children…..Wendy, Goldie, Shikara, Cheryl, Trish, Louise, and so many others. I want to say that I may not have great words of wisdom, but I do have the truth….as do you…..that God is in charge of making caterpillars into butterflies.
And He can…..He will………bring beauty into and out of our lives with our special children.