Sarah couldn’t sleep all night. I heard her come into the bedroom and could see the hint of light coming in from behind our curtains, when I finally heard the gentle rhythm of her breath indicating she was asleep. She was no longer staying awake at night because she was with a child who needed her. She was awake because of her own health struggles. It was going to be another rough day.
Later in the day, she would greet me in her perpetual state of exhaustion. Sadness and frustration in her eyes as she wished she could do more, be the wife and mom that she always dreamed of being, and make memories together as a family as we could do activities together. Her brokenness was not a lack of motivation or desire, but a reality that stood like a locked door with the life she wanted on the other side.
No Longer the Same
A couple years ago, we were visiting with an older couple who had walked this journey of special needs before us. The wife shared that through the process of raising their son, she became broken. Her old self died and she was no longer the same woman that she used to be.
This resonated with Sarah and it may resonate with many of you. At first, I was so close to the pain that it grieved me. I didn’t want to accept the truth of the statement. I didn’t want to let go.
Time has passed and the sentiment still holds true in Sarah’s mind. However my perspective has changed as I see that while there was a death of her old self, the person she has become is so much more.
It may seem cliché, but to me, the change resembles that of a caterpillar changing to a butterfly. When a caterpillar is in its chrysalis, it goes from eating everything in sight and growing, to being dormant for a period of days to weeks. At the end of this time it struggles to finally emerge from its cocoon, unfurl a beautiful set of wings and then launches into a life it could never have imagined as a butterfly.
I once heard the story of a child who watched a butterfly struggle as it was coming out of its chrysalis. The child felt so bad for the butterfly struggling that they tried to help by freeing it of its encasement.
The butterfly was never able to fly and it died. It needed the struggle to build the strength to fly.
Much More Beautiful
Sarah may never have the strength to do what she did before, and while she is delicate, she has become much more beautiful than before she was broken.
Where are you? Do you miss who you were and how strong you used to be? Do you, like Sarah, feel like a significant part of you has died and you are no longer be the person you once were? Do you feel like you are failing others and at times like you just want to cry?
Be encouraged, in your weakness these struggles are strengthening you. You are not less than. You are beautiful and you are loved.
He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. Psalms 147:3
Jonathan McGuire is the father of two sons and the co-founder of Hope Anew, a nonprofit that comes alongside the parents of children impacted by disability on a spiritual and emotional level. You can follow Hope Anew on Facebook here.