Leap of Faith
When this 17 year- old of mine was born, I was expecting a healthy bundle of joy. No one mentions the possibility that the bundle of joy you are about to bring into this world may bring you unspeakable sadness. And certainly no one tells you that the healthy baby you have carried for 9 months will not be breathing when she is born. I can’t begin to describe the helplessness of listening for that first cry, and hearing – nothing. watching your newborn being whisked away to some unknown part of the hospital to be hooked up to machines that would breathe for her. Those feelings of helplessness would revisit me on many occasions over the life of this little girl as she battled a multitude of health issues.
She has had twenty surgeries – mostly major – something else they don’t tell you – you cry every time they roll her into the O.R. Why? Because you have to entrust her to someone else, knowing that they are healing and hurting all at the same time. It’s a leap of faith that causes my heart to clench each and every time I let her go.
She’s a ballerina, this daughter of mine. I’m not talking cute, pink tutu here. I’m talking hard core, ugly feet, thirty hours a week, pre-professional, this-is-my-life, ballerina. Ballet has saved her life on more than one occasion. It has gotten her up and out of bed when the strongest of us would have been felled by the kinds of surgeries she has had. It has motivated her to get well sooner than advised by her doctors, because it’s what she loves and who she is. It has shaped her and grown her into a lovely and confident woman, just as surely as her medical issues have shaped her into a strong and compassionate and caring one. She has suffered more than any 17 year old should ever have to in one life time. She is stronger than many adults I know.
She wears a necklace – a mobius circle, with this verse from Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” It is her Confirmation verse, and one she has embodied each and every time she faces adversity. This has shaped her inner being just as surely as ballet has shaped her outer self. And the combination of the two is breathtaking.
Her dad and I are both pastors. You would think we handle all this stuff pretty well. Honestly, we don’t. We struggle with her suffering, and pain, and setbacks, and doubts, far more than I would care to admit She sets more of an example for us some days than we do for her. Her courage is a sight to behold and makes mine pale in comparison. She takes this leap of faith far better than we do. She lives her life with such abandon, taking it one day at a time, one dance step at a time, and the results are this wonderful, graceful, beautiful, powerful life lived fully.
I can hardly believe she’s ready to graduate from high school. It seems like yesterday when she taught us how to take our first leap of faith. And now she’s showing us that we’re not even close to being finished. She’s in the grueling process of auditioning for a conservatory program. She’ll be leaving home. I don’t even want to think about that just yet. Another leap to make.
And so this day, I am reminded that my strength lies not in myself, but in the One who created me. And while we may not be jumping for joy in all our life circumstance, we can indeed rejoice in the Lord! Each day is a grand and glorious leap. Most always into the unknown, but always into the Way the Lord would have us go. “For faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Take the leap with me today. I don't always know where it will lead, but I always, always know the One who leads.