This week marks 21 months of life with little Avery. It's been 21 months since my life was turned upside down, ripped to shreds and handed back to me with no manual on how to re-assemble the safe, comfortable life to which I had become accustomed. If asked to describe the last two years, I would probably use adjectives like "long" or "trying" and I know I've uttered the sentence, "This is really, really HARD" more times than I can count. There were times that were absolutely horrific; times that shattered my soul; times that demanded a certain numbness in order to survive; numbness from which I have not fully thawed.
But, woven throughout the trauma were simply seasons of steady, unrelenting, hard work. No one was sick or dying and yet there was always something difficult to be done. I worked from dawn until dusk, hands cracked and bleeding, doing the same tasks, day in and day out. In the beginning, some of those tasks made my hands shake and my stomach turn as I held my baby's only airway, tiny and plastic, between my fingers, reducing her to a gasping, choking, trach-less infant for the 30 seconds it took me to place a new airway.
Another tiny, yet exhausting, aspect of Avery's care is GI management which I can only describe as like having a child infected with the norovirus for 21 months straight- cleaning vomit up 7-8 times a day, every day, for almost 2 years. The work has never stopped.
Thankfully, my management style has evolved and Avery has matured, making my life significantly less stressful and much more stable, but I often consider the recurring times of utter exhaustion with a peculiar sense of purpose.
Let's be honest- some seasons just suck. They are the worst. They hurt like hell and there is no other way around it. Loss, betrayal and the like will crush you into dust for a time. Do not lose heart.
But, other seasons are so incredibly hard and yet, hard does not always equal bad. Times can be hard and also good.
A difficult workout is not necessarily bad. In fact, it will probably reap greater health benefits than an less stressful, low impact workout. Hard work, a rough patch in a relationship, a time of feeling lonely are not always bad. They may seem bad momentarily, but pressing on, getting it done and believing Jesus to show Himself strong on your behalf will yield good results from a time of exhaustion. Allowed by a gracious, merciful Heavenly Father more interested in our future calling than our present comfort, "hard" is synonymous with growth- growth of our character and growth of our awareness of our absolute, never-ending need for our Savior. Do not despise it.
With a sense of accomplishment, I consider all the good seeds that have been planted in the hearts and minds of my little people who have watched and participated in my work over the last 21 months. I believe that my seasons of "hard" (which are far from over) have been an opportunity to live out what I say I believe for my little ones (and sometimes the world) to see.
The work of my broken hands is a love letter, through the good and the bad, to my family and ultimately to Jesus, for Whom and with Whose strength I toil.