Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Learning to Fly

"Well some say life will beat you down. Break your heart, steal your crown. So I’ve started out, for God knows where. I guess I’ll know when I get there…I’m learning to fly but I ain’t got wings. Coming down, is the hardest thing". – Tom Petty

I believe in God given abilities and one of mine has always been telling a story in a way that others can relate. For years, I wished it was a jump shot and maybe an extra inch or two on my vertical. Storytelling, however, is a gift that has served me well. In a simple kind of way, I’ve built an entire professional career based on this thing I do well. The story I’m about to share is extremely hard for me to write about.

I’ve been reluctant to share Isaiah’s story and my personal struggle with his epilepsy.

Strangely, I haven’t had a whole lot to say about Isaiah and his epilepsy. I’m hopeful today for his future and have been since the beginning. I do truly believe we are blessed and I carry some guilt when praying so fervently for Isaiah since there are children who will never have the chance to live a normal life. Isaiah will be fine.


Friends, family and colleagues ask often about how he is doing and what they can do. I have good talking points about his situation and share them on a moment’s notice.

There is nothing you can do except pray for Isaiah and us.

This is my standard, go-to line, and I probably deliver it convincingly well. I really do believe prayer is the most important act any of us can do for the innocent or someone who questions the direction that life has taken. My faith remains strong and my plea to God is urgent, but I’ve struggled to understand two questions.

Why me? An incredibly selfish question.

Why him? The real question I want an answer to.

For even those who are closest, I struggle to explain in any additional detail. I am a plus, minus type of guy and so I’ve tried to add up the pluses against a towering list of minuses. I’m an optimist, but the minuses are mentioned in prayer to build a case to God that he has given Isaiah and us enough. Surely a struggling parent, business in its prime, life’s little annoying, yet necessary details and an ambition to do it all is enough for one guy. Since God doesn’t operate that way and because I’m too stubborn to accept that, I keep petitioning for this nightmare to end.

Did I just describe it as a nightmare? When will I learn? When will we all learn that God doesn’t operate like we do?

Outside of talking to God on a much more regular basis, the most inspiring plus to come out of this is my relationship with Lee Anne. I’ve marveled at her ability to write in a matter-of-fact way about Isaiah and us. It is fresh because she does it with a twist of sincere authenticity, self-deprecation and knee slapping humor. Believe me, we’ve both cried our fair share of tears, but you would never know it by reading her blog posts.

One day several months ago, I told her that she was inspiring others to deal with their tough situations – a sentiment shared with me countless times outside of her presence. She looked at me and said, I’m writing for me and if it inspires someone else, then great.

Didn’t I feel small? It was then that I understood my wife in a way that I’d never known her before. Don’t let the gorgeous exterior trick you. She is far more beautiful, strong, thoughtful, and faithful inside than you would ever know by looking at her. She has been my rock, but would laugh if I said that to her out loud.

Back to why me? My best attempt at understanding this raw human reaction to pain is that I’m being taught a valuable lesson. Part of the wonder of God is that Isaiah’s condition is not reflective on me, Lee Anne or our sins.

I recently read John 9: 2: His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

I’ve come to understand that my reaction to Isaiah’s situation is a normal one. What did I do to deserve this for my son?

But it gets better and God gives incredible comfort and an answer to my second question, why Isaiah?

John 9:3 - “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

The moral to this story is that I believe Isaiah is going to make a full recovery and will remember none of this, his only scar the touch of the healing hand of a God whose mercy is on display for anyone who wants to see it. Lee Anne and I will eventually celebrate our misadventure, a journey that has welded our bond together even closer. I will continue to learn, pray for patience and resolve to share our story to inspire others. I’m still learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings. Coming down is the hardest thing.


ginny said...

Thanks for sharing Ren. The way you and Lee have handled this whole situation really has been an inspiration to others. We'll continue to keep you guys in our prayers.

Dustin said...

Well said Renzi! Even though EmSue and I have yet to travel down the adventurous road of children I believe the bumps in the journey will be those that teach us most.