Have you ever just had a tough day? You know…one of those days when you just want to pull the covers back over your head and pretend like you aren’t there for the whole day?
Today has been one of those days. My step-daughter, Vicky, has been sick for two months, and has spent the last week in the hospital, with what we now know is Crohn’s Disease. Vicky is almost 21 years old, and otherwise perfectly healthy. Yesterday, she underwent surgery to remove about 6 inches of her diseased, small intestine. She has had nothing but clear liquids for over a week now and has lost 30 pounds (that she didn’t have to lose) since Thanksgiving. She has been in agonizing pain every time she tries to eat or drink anything for months now.
As many blended families go, our relationship hasn’t always been great. I remember the first time I met her. She was about six years old. She looked up at me and said, “You’re not my mum.” That set the tone for our relationship for several years to come. Vicky came to live with her Daddy and me when she was 9 years old. She was a difficult child. She had a lot of anger issues, learning issues, social, and behavioral problems. She called me by my first name, Candy, for a long time. She hated me most of the time, and as much as I tried to love her like my own, it was difficult. It’s not easy raising someone else’s child. But, we persevered. She grew up a little. I grew up a little. I probably learned as much from her and she did from me.
I remember the first time she called me “Mom”, (not “Mum” as she is from England and I will never replace her Mum). But, I remember that day. She had a friend over, and she called to me from her bedroom, “Mom, can we have some popcorn?” Such a simple question will be forever engraved upon my heart. Something changed that day. All of the time and efforts I had put into helping her with school, with friends, with coping with life…suddenly felt worthwhile. I never pushed the issue. I never wanted to replace anyone in her life. I never forced or even asked her to call me “Mom”. I just wanted her to know that I loved her daddy, and her, with all of my heart. I wanted her to know that we were the family that she so desperately longed for. As time went on from that day, she used my name and “Mom” interchangeably until she decided I was officially her “Mom”. I didn’t then, and I don’t now…take that lightly. I wear that title with pride and honor every time it’s used.
Last night, as I sat with her in her hospital room, all of our history came back to me. I realized how far we’ve come. If I could take the pain away from her and put it all on me, that’s exactly what I’d do. I would bare her pain to free her from it. As it was just the two of us last night, I prayed over her. I prayed for healing, I prayed for the doctors, I prayed for comfort, and I prayed for God to continue to use her and guide her through her life. It was then that God spoke to me and he said to my heart, “Candy, the love that you feel for Vicky right now is the kind of love I feel for my children. That’s why I died on the cross for them. I took their place. I took on their pain, their suffering, their heartache. Give it to me. Give it all to me. I will bear it for you. I will help you carry your burdens. You don’t have to do this alone.” I knew those words were true because I’ve experienced them before.
Today I am physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. I have spent the day resting and praying. I know that my God is bigger than anything this life can throw at me. He has pulled me out of the pit before. I’ve been at the bottom, and He pulled me out. He will do it again. Today, Vicky is sore from the surgery, but we are praising God that she doesn’t seem to have the digestive pain that was there before. We pray for continued healing and that she will get to go home soon and get back to living her life. As I write this, she sent me a picture of her empty hospital tray! Praise the Lord from whom all blessings flow! I am one happy MOM! Thank you, Jesus! It is so good to see a smile on my girl’s face this evening!