This summer, I spent a lot of time in therapy with my daughter Jaxlee. If you’ve been a reader for a while, you know that this is pretty common. We do at least 2, three-week intensives with LEAP Physical Therapy every year, weekly horse therapy, and a host of other alternative approaches to help Jaxlee thrive.
So between sessions in Arizona and intensive 3-week therapy programs, we have logged many (many) hours in waiting rooms. Starting all the way back when she was just 20 days old and fresh out of the NICU.
These times got me thinking about all the people we’ve met over the years in hard situations of their own. We have made life-long buddies in the waiting room. Our friend Amos, who battled a brain tumor as a 3 year old. Our angel Jenna, who lost her fight to DIPG brain cancer. One of Jaxlees boyfriends Hank, a fellow CP warrior and goal crusher. JoJo, a little boy who would give Jaxlee incentive to work hard during PT. The most beautiful Evi who is a non-fatal drowning survivor working hard to rewire her brain. These are just a handful of examples of relationships we formed in waiting rooms.
It’s easy to feel isolated in your experience with kids with special needs or unique physical challenges. It’s easy to feel stuck, and go down the road of “Why me? Why us?” Oh yes, how I have been down that road many times.
But I’ve been doing this whole waiting room thing for nine years now. I’m not a stranger to this.
So this summer, as I waited for Jaxlee’s therapy session to start, I looked around at the other moms in the room and the thought came to me, “What if my purpose is to be there in the waiting room for other moms facing the hardest days of their lives?”
Because of my experience with Jaxlee, I’ve become very comfortable in these settings. The sterile rooms with the new nurses and latest developments—it’s all very familiar. I don’t mind holding fragile babies with tubes or physical abnormalities that make others uncomfortable. I have a special opportunity to connect with and support these families that I wouldn’t have if not for my own challenges.
In the past, I felt bitter about spending so much time in therapy or doctor’s waiting rooms. It seemed so wrong and unfair that my child had to go through this. This was not how I thought we would be spending our time & I grieved the loss of a “normal” childhood.
Don’t get me wrong, I think that grief is necessary and even healthy for a time. On the other side, though, is the acceptance of reality and it’s in this that I’m learning how to have intentional purpose and impact on others’ lives.
God has me in these places for a reason – to shine light, offer hope, and be a bridge for others.
I’ve seen and personally experienced enough loss and grief to know that there IS hope on the other side. There is joy after the bad news. There is goodness to experience.
I don’t have it all figured out, but I’m sensing some clarity, and I believe God has gifted me this opportunity, this platform, and this story to impact people in an eternal way—in their darkest hours. He is using our story and our experiences to fulfill His purpose for my life.
My hope in sharing this is to encourage you.
You too may be in your own waiting room… an IVF clinic, the oncology floor, a psychologist’s office, fill in your own blank __________… most likely in a situation you wouldn’t choose to be in but really have no other choice at the moment.
Your story and your challenges may be hard— there’s no denying that. But I do believe God can use you right where you are to lift up the people around you. To be a source of hope and joy when it feels like it’s no longer possible.
And to all the special needs mamas, or the moms who just got hard news, I’m with you (you can read more about my own experience with hard news here). Trust me, it will be good again.
P.S. The photo on this blog is our Angel Jenna with my girl Jax getting acupuncture therapy together. 😇