Ever notice it’s the moments we think we’ve got it together that life throws us the curve-ball that changes everything… including us?
What we do in those moments reveals what Eleanor Roosevelt once said about women (which I’ve noticed applies to anyone):
People are “like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.”*
Today’s guest post by Michael George shares the moment his family dropped into hot water, and what God brewed from that season. May his story be an encouragement in what you face today too.
Have you ever had a season in life when you felt sure you were doing all the right things? At 28, I did. I had married my high school soul mate, earned a master’s degree, had two wonderful children with one on the way, and was excited about building a fulfilling life for them.
Then, an hour after baby number three (Ben) was born, that perfect world came crashing down around me.
“Mrs. George, we have a problem,” the neonatologist declared to my wife. “You have a very sick baby. He has an enlarged liver, an enlarged spleen, his head is too small, and his platelets are dangerously low. He may not live the day!”
Her words paralyzed us and made it hard to breathe. In days that followed Ben’s tiny body underwent test after test to determine what was wrong. On day 4, we were told matter-of-factly, “Ben may never walk, talk, or go to school.” Words that vaporized our optimism for a fulfilling life. My dreams suddenly lay in pieces around me, and the thought of raising a child who would need round-the-clock care suffocated me.
Seizures, surgeries, and panic rushes to the ER became our life. Time after time, we received laundry lists of problems but no path or guidance to resolving any of them. Most days we were pushed to emotional and physical exhaustion, while constantly on the verge of financial ruin.
This storyline replayed over and over for more than five years until, one day, I had an unusual conversation with a co-worker.
“What choice do you have?” he told me. “You’re Ben’s father. You have to do whatever it takes. You can’t run away from it. Figure it out. Find a way to make it better!”
Later that same day, while watching the movie Castaway, I heard Tom Hanks exclaim,
“I had to keep breathing even though there was no reason to hope … even though that went against all logic, all rational thought … ‘cause tomorrow, the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”
In a four hour span, two voices were telling me similar messages.
After the movie ended, I tucked Ben into bed and glanced up at the picture hanging above him—the same one that hung in my bedroom as a child. In it, a teen carries a boy on his back, trudging through the snow with a large school and adjacent church in the background. This scene is really the symbol of a community for homeless boys set up by a Catholic priest named Father Flanagan.
Reading the picture’s caption, “He ain’t heavy, Father. He’s m’brother,” I recalled the song by the same name, which talked about a long, long road—a song that reminded me I’m strong enough to carry Ben, and everything he needs.
Instantly, I was immersed in a soothing peace that washed over me like warm rain.
In this simple picture, I saw life’s true purpose embodied: to serve others, especially the poor, the marginalized, and the forgotten. This is exactly what I must do for my Ben.
Three times in one day I heard it. Had that voice of truth been speaking to me all these years? Why didn’t I hear it before?
That day, the truth screamed out: there was no way my wife and I had been led that far with Ben to have it all end horribly.
And in that unsuspecting moment, for the first time, I felt that everything would be all right.
Michael George is a life leadership coach, motivational speaker, and author of Third Time Lucky: How Ben Shows Us the Way. Michael helps families living with a disability to believe in a future that is bigger than the past so that they can achieve wildly successful outcomes. He also works with healthcare and educational professionals who serve these families. Learn about Ben’s incredible journey at http://3rdtimelucky.com/.
*From Quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt on Goodreads.