Welcome back to part II of my life. The joy of this retrospective project is that I actually get to look at my life in context. I get to take all the things that I remember and see how they have transformed me into where I am at today. There is a good chance that in ten years, I can look back again on my life and things might look drastically different.
The first section brought us up to about the final weeks of being 5 years old. In fact it was just over two weeks before my sixth birthday. I had a general grasp of who God was. I knew a lot of the facts about Him and I could re-tell many of the stories from the Bible. I knew about Noah, Jonah, and Jesus. I knew the correct answer to most of the questions that I would be asked in Sunday School at the time and I enjoyed the puppet shows.
As I was getting excited for my sixth birthday, as any child should, I was counting down the days. I had 17 days until I would be six and I was staying at the babysitters house. I don’t remember what I was watching, but I remember when my dad came to pick me up. He was frantic and he was yelling and screaming a lot. It was not yelling in the sense that I had done something wrong, but rather, that something was not right. When he finally slowed down enough for me to understand him, I was able to understand why he was dragging me out to the car. My brother had just been born.
He wasn’t due for another 4 months.
We rushed up to the hospital because he wanted to be by my mom’s side. I am relatively certain that my dad and mom had already been there for a while and talked about many things. First and foremost, I know that they were referring to my brother by his name…Chris. Up until today, that name was not one that I had known. After I grew up, I came to understand that the name was given to him because there was a good chance that Chris would not survive to see his first birthday. The name that he was given was a family name and one that would be honoring should he pass away. This was a thought that at the age of 5, almost 6, I couldn’t really grasp. I had never lost anyone. I still had all my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and I was an only child…until that day.
The next 6 months of my life were the closest that I ever wanted to be to experiencing what Job must have gone through. It was a time in which, I learned what it meant to lose, or almost lose, family. My life did not change as drastically as my parents did. They spent most of their days at the hospital. I continued in my routine. But every night as a family we prayed. We prayed for another day. I do not recall a ton of prayer for a miracle healing. I think that for our family, another day was just the miracle we needed.
Believe it or not, during this time, I had a few questions for God. I had the one that everyone has “Why?”. I wondered about why he would do this. What caused Him to choose us to put through this hard time. I know, now, that He did have a plan and a miracle far beyond one more day was happening. I know that He was not putting more in front of us than we could handle, but I still questioned Him. I still felt a little like Job shouting into the silence. I felt like Job in that there was nothing anyone could say to me, that was going to make me feel better. I was not going to lie and say that I deserved the situation, any more than even in this modern day do I feel that my family deserved the situation. It was just a time that Lord gave us. It was a time to increase my dependence on Him. It was truly an opportunity for me, at a young age, to see His hands at work.
Over the next couple of months, Chris actually started to make progress. The Lord was answering prayers. I was the first child into the neo-natal unit of Chris’ hospital. I still vividly remember the small of the soap with scrubbers on the back that we used to clean our hands. I remember my tiny scrubs that I got to wear when I would get to visit him. I made him his first Christmas stocking, gave him his first stuffed animal, and read to him as often as I could go to see him. I guess in some small way, he made sure that I was doing good in school.
I was still scared though. I had now connected with Chris, so to speak. He was a part of the family, he was my brother. I did not want God to take him from me now. That would just be cruel. Luckily He didn’t. Chris is now 25 years old and is out on his own.
I know that this little episode in my life was nothing compared to the agony of having everything taken as Job did. But this was the closest that I had every come to experiencing loss. This was the closest, I had come to losing something valuable and having to trust in my family to increase and continually trust God and His plan. I had never prayed that much in my life. I had never heard the words or experienced what it meant to trust God with the situation, but there we were a family kneeling every night, hoping that our desires were the same as God’s. Hoping that it was in His plan for Chris to live another day.
If that had not been the case, I know that we would have made it through the times, but Chris has grown into one of my heroes. He has a spirit of love, that I have never witnessed before. He has been picked on his whole life, but never returned the violence or anger. He has always walked the line choosing to say “they need friends too”. He can annoy from time to time, but he is also someone who is content in who he is. He is the blessing that God brought out of that part of my life.
And Lord knows in a few years…I was going to need to be there for him and he was going to be there for me.