Joining a club of any sort makes me feel kind of cool. Like I’m exclusive, accepted; I made the cut. Starbuck’s Gold Card member, gym member, church member, Spina Bifida Kids online member, National Strength and Conditioning Association member, Coolgreens punch card member, etc. I think this is why job hunting or dating or being the new kid can be so difficult–you’re open to rejection. Eek.
Joey’s obsessed with (ok, that’s too strong a word…) really loves the author/priest/professor, Henri Nouwen. He’s reading his book, The Wounded Healer, with our friend, Brett, in Waco. One theme in this book is that we minister to each other best through our suffering. Jesus participated with people in their pain. He got down in it with them, ultimately resulting in the cross. Through the darkest suffering He created an opportunity for the brightest joy.
“…every Christian is constantly invited to overcome his neighbor’s fear by entering into it with him, and to find in the fellowship of suffering the way to freedom” (Nouwen, The Wounded Healer).
I think there are few things that unite a group of people more than pain. Love is certainly stronger, but shared pain and suffering can create a bond between people that is not easily broken. We’re all a part of one of these “clubs”: divorced parents, divorced ourselves, betrayal, loss of a spouse, loss of a child, loss of faith, abused, unable to have children, miscarriage, addiction, disabled/sick child, mental illness, cancer, loss of a parent, etc. There is an unspoken but powerful connection between those who have endured similar trials. No two stories are the same, but when I receive encouragement or advice from a parent of a sick or disabled child (particularly Spina Bifida), somehow I trust it more. They’ve been there. I’m sure you feel the same about your “club.”
Children’s Hospital has a Family Network program that hooks up families of children with similar issues in the OKC area. This week I mustered up the courage to call our network mom. She has a seven year old boy named Dalton with Spina Bifida (same level) and a VP shunt like Finn. I listened to her every word like it were God’s truth. I choked up at the end of the conversation, when she encouraged me to always follow my gut and that I’m the best mom for Finn. I can’t wait to introduce the boys someday soon. Other parents of Spina Bifida children have reached out to us too…even as far away as Canada! We are grateful for their participation in our pain (and our joy).
Regardless of your trials or life’s circumstances, we have much in common. We need each other. I need you. Maybe you need me.
“Making one’s own wounds a source of healing, therefore, does not call for a sharing of superficial personal pains but for a constant willingness to see one’s own pain and suffering as a rising from the depth of the human condition which all men share” (Nouwen).