This valley has its continuous lessons and different perspectives. A few days prior to the end of the school year, I found myself seated at a position I had only ever viewed from the opposite end of the table. As the previous school year closed, decisions needed to be made for the upcoming school year.
Despite my limited public school teaching years, I became accustomed to the “504” vocabulary. A 504 is a legal document put in place for students with physical or emotional challenges who need specific accommodations to help make their school day successful. My experience comes from sitting with the parent and supporting the student. Now I sat at the opposite end of the table, seeking support and accommodations for my daughter.
She didn’t have to come. I didn’t ask her nor did I invite her. She has endured so much pain and frustration over the past year, I wanted to shield her from this. I wanted to protect her from this plan that at this point is hypothetical. She wanted to come. She wanted to hear and give her input.
Two adults in attendance were people with whom she was familiar. The school nurse had seen my girl on repeat, every day for several months. Her social studies teacher was a constant source of support, experiencing herself the level of pain my daughter knows so well. The other two adults were friendly, yet still strangers.
I spoke mostly, shared her history, her diagnosis from a host of doctors. My girl kept quiet and still beside me, taking it all in.
Then came the question that I dreaded, not due to the content, but because of the person to whom it was asked. “S, why don’t you tell us what your day is like?”
Two years ago, my girl never shied from speaking in front of groups. She has years of church choir under her belt. Many have said her candor was quite similar to yours truly, a fact I relished on more than one occasion.
Since the pain has taken over her body, brain fog has seeped in. People who suffer from chronic pain, are so exhausted from the daily battle that their brains are less than alert. It makes me think of those newborn baby days when I was so exhausted from lost sleep and night feedings that my brain was barely functioning.
This brain fog has not only affected her inability to answer a question in a complete thought but has also created in her a social anxiety that frustrates her and breaks my heart. When this question was asked of her, she began, uttered about five words, and the tears began to flow. Yet, I have never been more proud of my girl. She wanted to come. She wanted to be a part. She wanted to answer the question asked of her. The hidden blessing was that the school representatives saw her struggle and praised her for her courage.
I never imagined myself sitting at a 504 meeting as a parent. This new perspective, sitting at the other end of the table, is another level of “hard” that I didn’t think I knew how to navigate. I am thankful that my few teaching years, gave me what I needed to know for this new position. The position of parenting a child with physical challenges.
God is always planning and preparing. That difficult season you are in right now will somehow prepare you for a season coming up. This lesson in the valley will be a much-needed lesson when we cross over the mountain to a valley ahead.
Notice I said WHEN we cross, not IF.
My pastor spoke on this topic today. There is a story in the Bible where Jesus sleeps through a storm in the middle of a lake in a boat. His disciples are freaking out, and wake Him for help. He comments on their lack of faith. They woke Him up, clearly, they had faith He could help them. What they had forgotten, was that Jesus had already told them, “Let us go over to the other side.” He wouldn’t have put them in the boat and let them die in the storm when he already told them he would take them to the other side.
Jesus has every plan of taking you to the other side of whatever valley you are in. He will see us across the valley to the other side of this illness. While I know he has every ability to heal our girl, he may not, but God will make sure we get to the other side. Just like I was sitting on the other side of the table from where I was used to sitting 13 years ago. Not only did God bring me to the other side, He equipped me with everything I needed on this side of this valley.
God is equipping you in ways you never imagined. His plan is always to get you to the other side.
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