When our children are born, our hopes and dreams for them are born in us as parents. We imagine getting to experience life's milestones with them and wonder what it will be like in those moments. What will it be like dropping them off for their first day of school? What will it feel like to walk my daughter down the aisle?
When Jacob died, so did my dreams for him. Not only do I grieve him. But, I grieve the moments we'll never have. I get a knot in my stomach when I see kids his age walking into school holding their daddy's hand. There's a pee wee football field near our house that I drive by often. I imagine him in one of the uniforms running around and wonder what it would have been like to help him put his helmet and pads on for the first time. We won't get to hear his name called and watch him walk across a stage at a graduation. I won't get to watch him dance with his Mom at his wedding. I won't get to hug him and put my arm around him when he needs someone to talk to.
If I focus on the things I won't get to do with him, I can get very depressed and sad. So, I intentionally have to make sure I practice gratitude and to be thankful for the impact Jacob's life continues to have, even though he's not physically with me.
I experienced one of those moments last week. We received a letter announcing the opening of the Murole Computer Center at the Murole Prep School in Rubanda, Uganda where we help sponsor orphans. With funds raised at the Superhero Ball, in honor of Jacob; Children's Hopechest bought 23 computers for the center to be used by the village and the children who attend Murole Prep School. This is just one of many projects that have been funded over the last 4 years. But, this computer center to me is one of those projects that will be an education game changer for the children in Rubanda. Now, with the help of the internet and these computers, the children have an entirely new education experience and unlimited access to information.
I'm so proud that my son's life has helped hundreds of orphans and an entire village on the other side of the world. He has affected so many people even though his life here was so short.
A few weeks ago while working with a friend on the outline of the book I'm writing, it became very clear that this book is about two words. Hope and Redemption. Whatever difficult situation we find ourselves in, I believe there is always hope. I find ultimate hope in a God who suffers with us; who one day will make all things new. And, I believe a vital step in healing our most difficult and traumatic experiences is to find some redemptive perspective toward the suffering and pain in our life.
I find hope in the eyes of these children in Uganda who feel loved and valued by sponsors in America who they have never met. They know someone cares enough for them to give monthly to provide access to quality education, healthcare, and their basic living needs. And, I find some redemption of our pain and grief knowing orphans in Uganda will be forever changed because of the life of one little boy.
These are not the dreams and moments I had hoped for when Jacob was born. But, this is the life we have and I choose to see the good in the midst of the pain. I hold both the joy and the pain simultaneously. Many of us can look back and say - "Life did not turn out the way I expected." If you're stuck, the challenge I make to you today is - choose to find hope amidst the ashes of your pain. It's there, I promise.
Finally, redeeming your difficult experiences and trauma is about finding some positive aspect to the pain and suffering it has caused you. It may be one of the hardest things you will ever do. But, it is worth the cost. When you redeem those moments, you take the power of them into your own hands. You can choose to allow love to overcome bitterness, good to overcome evil, and joy to overcome despair.
Before you leave, please sign up for my updates and sample chapters by clicking here and entering your email address in the Get Updates box on the right hand side. Thanks!
While working on the book, I've been listening to Sleeping At Last. This song, from the Many Beautiful Things soundtrack is one of my favorites. It's beautiful.