Tuesday, June 28, 2016

ILLUSIONS OF CONTROL

This past Saturday we had a glorious lake day with friends.  The moment I'm about to write about was a blip - in fact, John and I didn't really process it fully until we got home and reflected on the day.

We were sitting on the boat, waiting for the tube to be fully inflated, and several of the children were sitting on the deck off the back of the boat.  Before I knew what was happening, John was pulling Bella up and telling me to check her.  He sounded concerned, and I could tell he was working to keep his voice under control to not alarm everyone on the boat while also communicating to me that something was really wrong.

As I grabbed for Bella, her body was completely limp.  Her eyes were glazed over, and she couldn't seem to hear us.  She couldn't or wouldn't move at all.  She didn't seem to understand what we were saying, and she wasn't speaking.

It was a little terrifying, and I am not at all one to jump to the worst case scenario.

We poured water over her head to cool her off and tried to get her to drink.

Within a minute or so, she was responsive, and within two minutes or so, she was talking again.  Within five minutes, she seemed totally fine and normal.

We hadn't realized that she had been leaned over and breathing in a steady stream of boat exhaust.  It happened SO fast.  Between the heat, and the exhaust, she was likely in the very beginning stages of carbon monoxide poisoning.  (I fell into the internet research hole later that night at home to confirm this suspicion.)  Thankfully, John noticed that something wasn't right and responded.  Thankfully, we were able to intervene and take care of her immediately.  Thankfully, she bounced back incredibly quickly, and because it was all over in minutes, the horror of those few moments was overshadowed by the hours of fun we had the rest of the day.

The past month has brought us two very public tragedies that have caused internet outrage on all sides (Child falling into the Gorilla exhibit at the zoo and Child being drowned by an alligator at Disney).  I don't feel that I have a lot to add to the massive amounts of words written about these things other than to say that I fall in the camp that wants the blaming to stop.  Of course, we parents have an enormous amount of responsibility to try to protect our children in all the ways that we can.  However, we cannot always protect our children.  There is so much outside of our control, though we certainly want to pretend otherwise on a regular basis.

Either of the children in the above mentioned stories could have been mine, which is a thought that brings me to empathy, instead of blaming.  John and I are far from perfect parents, but we do love our children so very much.  The idea that we cannot keep them from all harm is really unpalatable to me.  I love the idea of control.  In so many ways I want to shelter them, but ultimately, they will grow and develop and little by little, I will have to let go.  And all along the way, there will be possibilities for bad things to happen to them.  It's a horrible thought, and one that I do not want to torture myself with, but it is a reality about living on this earth.

And for me, it points me back to the Lord.  Ultimately, he is writing their stories and mine.  He has their good in mind.  He loves my children more than I do, and he asks me to trust him.  There is always something lurking around any corner to injure my child, and God is the one that determines the spans of each of our lives.  I remember when my father was diagnosed with cancer, he would regularly remind me that "This does not catch God by surprise.  He has numbered my days from the beginning."

I always have to choose - do I want the illusion of control or do I want to trust God?  In my mother heart, I want to pick for us all to live long, healthy and happy lives.  But - I trust God more.  I don't say that lightly, because I have lost someone I loved so much.  I know that things could turn out any number of ways that may be undesirable to me, but I trust that God knows what is best.  He's working for my good, the good of my children and his glory - all things that I desire more than what I think should happen.

Saturday morning was a good reminder that things happen in an instant, and that ultimately God is in control - not us.  In this case, I am rejoicing that God allowed us to see Bella quickly and that she is absolutely fine.  I don't take that for granted, and I am incredibly grateful for her precious life.

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