The Club

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).


12 thoughts on “The Club

  1. I’m in love with Nouwen too. If he were still alive I’d ask him to be my boyfriend. Wounded Healer is one of my favorites of his- such a great message.

  2. In the last few years I’ve experienced more in tense pain than ever before and I’ve learned more about myself than I care to admit. Thanks for letting us share in your pain and your joy. I see the beautiful picture God is painting in your life.

  3. Ashley, I so look forward to your writing. You challenge me and inspire me. Even though I don’t comment often, I am praying for you and Joey and Finn. Keep writing from your heart. It will mean so much to you when you are older. I came across my first journal I wrote in 1979 as a new Christian with innocence and naïveté. But what I treasure most is the comments about my children and what they were doing at 4 and 18 months. I’m on my 29th journal (meaning I didn’t write all the time) but they are history!

  4. I love my kids! I love your hearts, your courage, how you draw circles arounds God’s people and love them so well. I am in awe of His work in your lives.

  5. Hi Ashley, the Canadian is back. Our local SB Assoc was giving away a DVD made by another Canadian SB Assoc about 6 families living with SB of all different levels and severities. I already have one, but i asked them for another copy because I thought you might like to see it. It is REALLY good. If you are interested, let me know on and I will mail you the DVD. It is a valuable tool for family, friends, schools, and just for Finn and yourself. Let me know.
    PS You might as well send me your address again too.

  6. Obviously, this is a few years old, but this is exactly the stage I am at right now. I have the contact info for a mom of a girl with SB a few years ahead of us. Thinking about braving it to contact her. We’re 7 mo in and I’m getting encouragement from blogs like yours (thanks for being brave enough to share!), but I think it’s time for some two-way conversation.
    Just wanted to let you know that as much as these others have helped you, your blog has helped someone else too!

    • Thanks for following our journey, Meghan. You have and will have your own SB journey, but hopefully you can find some camaraderie here and perspective of someone a little further down the road. Hope you’re able to touch base with a local who has been there too. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or reach out if you need someone to listen! ashley_dawn6@yahoo

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