When I first became a parent, I don’t know that I had any sort of storehouse of faith. I had spirit. I had questions. I had doubt. I don’t think that I had much faith. Many of my practices had fallen by the wayside — yoga, meditation, daily readings, journaling… And, well, if they hadn’t already fallen, they quick crumbled in the rough stuff of the first few months.
I discovered, though, that this is too hard without faith. There are too many decisions that have to be made, questions to answer, second-guessing and kicking myself. The ideal of balance is so far beyond reach that adding it into the list would have been like throwing a flaming bowling pin into my juggling set. Read: disaster, and a bit scary.
I tried to keep doing it alone. Somewhere in my son’s second hospitalization, I finally realized the complete and utter impossibility of the task. Sure, I could hold it together on my own, but I could also collapse on my own. And it wouldn’t be that far into the future. It was sort of already happening.
It’s not that my son or my daughter are so hard that I have to turn to God and faith to parent them. It’s that parenting is so hard. There is this massive over-flowing of love, a deep desire to make the right choices, rising up within you, while you stand amidst a culture of isolation and mommy wars. There is the reality of seeing that, while the arc of the world may bend towards justice, complete justice is not yet here, and your child is alienated, mocked, and misunderstood.
So there were two paths, two choices. The first is the one of anger. It is the path of accuse first, listen never. It is the path that leads to raised voices in IEP meetings, seeing the only solution as lawyering up, finding only the flaws in therapists and doctors and treatments. There’s an endless stream of therapies, doctor-hopping, diagnosis-shopping. You’re mad. You’re mad at the world that doesn’t get your child. You’re mad at the world that doesn’t support either of you. You think that this battle, this meeting, this doctor will be the place where your questions are answered, your fears are heard, and your child is seen. Until it’s not. So you keep twirling yourself up and up and up… You have faith, alright, but it is faith in your ability to change things through sheer force of will and personality.
Yeah, I did that. It’s an understandable path. There is a righteous anger. The thing is, though, that path is exhausting. There is no rejuvenation. There is only tiredness. Loneliness.
So, in the middle of that second hospitalization, I realized that I needed to find another way. I needed to act still, of course, because it is our slow and steady acts that help bend that arc faster and faster. I couldn’t place my faith in my actions alone anymore, though. I couldn’t. I would burn up doing so.
I turned back to faith, filled with questions and doubts and wondering, but also filled with the hope that I am not alone. I prayed. I read. I prayed some more. I prayed for wisdom, for partners, and – most of all – peace. Peace with my decisions. Peace with the outcome. Peace with our teams. Peace with all the unknown things in our life — where our kids will be in five years or ten, what exactly is happening when LM sees snakes, or how to make this whole thing easier for everyone. I prayed for release from the junk.
I don’t know how to do this journey without faith that we are being held and guided. I don’t know. I am so grateful for the kinder heart and softer ways that have come for me. I hope that everyone in this journey can find faith — in something. It could be faith in family, in friendship, or community. It could be faith that the trees will continue to grow and that every night the stars will shine. It can be faith in your Love, in the steadfastness with which you shine your heart. It could be faith in anything and everything, but it can’t just be in yourself. I mean, absolutely, please, please have faith in yourself. I hope, though, that you can also find faith in other places, faith that will buoy you and carry you through when the faith in yourself seems dark and dim and far away. Faith that will sail your family and yourself through all the storms.