On July 11, 2000, I became what I always wanted to be - a mommy. When Shelby was born, she looked nothing like I thought she would ( I was bald as a cue ball and she had a whole mess of dark hair); but she fulfilled my dreams. I nursed her and cuddled her and sang to her and dressed her in adorable outfits with bows in her hair. I fell head over heels in love with our perfect little family. Until December 5. She wasn't even 5 months old, and we had to rush her to the hospital in full body convulsions. A doctor who THOUGHT we were out of earshot opined to a colleague, "She'll never be normal." In an instant, Dravet Syndrome stole my identity. That was the first of many, many seizures and more hospital stays than I care to count. And my life was forever changed. Gone was the dream of being "just a mommy". I was now and forevermore would be a parent of a child with special needs. I let the fear consume me. Carefree cuddles were replaced with focused learning sessions. Trips to the zoo were rescheduled to accomodate therapy sessions and doctor appointments. Playing at the park was replaced by inside activities that protected her from the elements. There were times Shelby's condition filled my every waking thought and used my last ounce of energy. I read, and researched and worried. I wore the title "Special Needs Mom" like a badge and carried it before me, much like a banner in a parade. I measured myself by how much I was doing for her and found my encouragement in the praise I received from others regarding how well I handled it all. But when I put on this new identity, I lost the simple joys of being "mommy" - of just "being" with her.
But Dravet Syndrome would not be the only theif in my life. Let me tell you about my job as a group fitness instructor. There was a time when I ate, slept, and breathed it. I was an athlete growing up, but never the star. I was always a little big and a lot slow. Not usually a stand-out and not often receiving praise for my hard work. And in all honesty, sometimes I worked hard and other times, I just did the bare minimum required. So as an adult, when I discovered my love of group fitness, I gladly ran (literally) with it. I relished my active body and defined muscles and often thought, "if my school coaches could see me now - voluntarily working out." Pride had taken over where insecurity had once been and I LOVED it. I enjoyed telling people I was a fitness instructor and measured my worth by how many classes I taught and how many people occupied them. And honestly, that was pretty fun for a season. But then I hurt my back. And then I broke my foot. And then I gained weight. And then I tore my ACL and meniscus and had surgery. I'm still a fitness instructor, but I'm out on medical leave of absence. And I don't really LOOK like a fitness instructor anymore. In fact, I may as well lay it all out here in the open for you - right now, I'm a little embarrassed to tell others that's what I do. It's no longer fun to have this identity.
I read a blog this week and saw this:
Woah! Oh how it reminded me of how many times I have (and still do) see myself through the lens of something I'm doing or even something I am instead of whose I am. The only identity that lasts, the only title that matters, is SON OR DAUGHTER OF THE KING. John 1:12 tells us "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God". When we believe in Him and want to share our lives with Him, the Creator of the universe adopts us as HIs own. We become co-heirs with Jesus. He says, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand." John 10:28 Did you hear that? God holds you in his hand and nothing can remove you. Like a supreme court justice - that's a lifetime appointment. A position you can't be fired from. Tenure. And you will find so much more there. More peace. More security. More love. More fulfillment than you could ever imagine. Where are you currently trying to find those things? If you aren't sure, ask yourself, "What am I most proud of?" or "What am I most wrapped up in?" Are you a cheer mom? A CEO? A wife? A PTA President? A church staff member or ministry leader? None of those are bad things. But they should only be a small part of what makes you, you. If you can't honestly say that you find your identity in Christ, could you take a little time the next few days to read the Book of John in the Bible? Don't own one? No problem. You can look it up online. Really read it and see what resonates. See what questions it brings up. And if you want to talk about it further, I would love to have you over for coffee. I don't have all the answers but we can explore together what it means to be a child of the King!