“Do you by chance have a secret talent for cutting hair? I really want my hair cut on this trip.” I’d just met Diane for the first time in Nashville, and I was hoping she’d say yes. She assured me she had no secret talent in that area.
But on our very next stop, on a chance encounter, God met my need.
These Aren’t the Answers We Want
My daughter had just had a very difficult conversation with her doctor. I have done my best to be honest and open with my children in all things, but the questions about death have been too much. I want to protect them from this. In truth, I want to protect myself. I keep busy and distracted, rather than sit with the discomfort of losing a child. I’ve wrestled, pleaded and had my heart shattered even as I tried to protect my kids.
Now, finally, it’s out in the open.
Marissa has heard what the future holds. She’s known for awhile now; I’m certain. Just like me, however, she needed to hear it.
I watched her gears turn, so like mine, searching for loopholes to slip through and backdoors to knock upon. Her face fell as the doctor told her, “Sweetie that’s the same question you just asked me, and the answer is the same.”
Her eyes flashed briefly, and her jaw set. I saw my stubborn streak in my daughter and recognized the anger. She simply said, “I’m done.” She turned away. I spoke with the doctor briefly before returning to her.
“I thought if those were the answers, he would lie to me,” she said and then looked away.
“You know better than that,” I told her. “We’ve promised you that much. I think most of what he said, you already knew.”
She nodded. “But there is so much I want to do! It might seem like a lot of time to you and everyone else, but it’s NOT! And I’m SCARED!”
Again, I found myself with no answers. My throat tightened. I was scared of saying nothing; I was scared of saying something. I was scared of being too positive; I was scared of sounding pessimistic. Lord where ARE YOU? Where is the mercy in this? I breathed deep, struggling to control both my tears and the anger I felt in such an unjust situation.
Walking with my Suffering Child
“It’s not a lot of time, that’s true. But you heard him say that you won’t hurt; you won’t struggle to breathe. He’s not going anywhere. Your dad and I, your siblings, we aren’t going anywhere. Have you ever doubted, or do you doubt now that I will fight for you?”
She shook her head.
“I know it’s not the same, but honey, my struggle is that I’ve been asked to walk with you and your brother through this. I don’t know why. God has not told me why. I wish I heard him speak with a thunderous voice from a burning bush, but that’s not what I get. We are here now, on an adventure, because I did feel and hear ‘GO.’
He’s showering us with the love and kindness of others. He is showing us He cares. The thing is, we have to look up long enough to see it. These years are going to be over too quickly, for you and for everyone else, no matter what we do. The best we can do is to grab all the moments we can as they fly by. As my grandmother said, ‘Choose to make it a good day.’ It’s as simple and as difficult as that. I need to do that; you need to do that. No one can do it for you.”
We sat quietly for a few minutes. I knew she was letting it all sink in. I know that this will be an ongoing process. It hurts her; it hurts me; it hurts the sister sitting on the diving board, not able to tune us out but not wanting to hear. There is no way but through.
We cleaned up and went to dinner in the small town close to where we are staying.
The Kindness of Strangers
The accessible parking was taken by a vehicle with no tags. The last remaining parking spots were occupied by one very beautiful car. The ramp to the restaurant seemed more a formality, as it opened directly into the edge of a table, chairs, benches. It had been such a long day. This could have ruined it.
I took a deep breath. Diane asked the ladies at the table if we could get through, and to my surprise they got up quickly and began moving and rearranging tables. One said she had spent six months in a wheelchair and understood the frustrations. Finally, we got inside.
While waiting to order, I looked and saw a cross with the verse I had been so angry about all day, the verse I had blogged about just a short time earlier: “Be still and know that I am God.” I groaned. It seemed God was determined to pound this into my thick head. I won’t. I won’t be still while you won’t move. I won’t.
The indoor tables were two seaters. There was no place to put a wheelchair. Every table outside was occupied. We ordered our food to go and were told there would be a bit of a wait.
As I was trying to decide whether to try to turn the wheelchair backward and go down the brick steps (scary), or ask everyone to move again so we could get to the ramp (embarrassing for Marissa), I heard the ladies tell Diane, “Hey we can rearrange and you can sit here.”
We took seats next to very welcoming strangers, in this itty bitty town in Georgia. We shared a bit of our story, and Diane told them about her friend in the town, who had just recently moved nearby.
Eyes popped as one lady said, “I know her! We go to church together!” We soon learned we all knew the same friend, as unlikely as it seemed, and we had met her in very unlikely circumstances. In fact, just a short time ago, all of us had been praying for her and her daughter, long before she had moved to this hamlet of a town.
Be Still and Know
And then Diane asked, “What do y’all do for a living?”
“We are hairstylists,” one answered casually. As if it was as common an answer as could be. On another day it may have been. Today it wasn’t.
Diane laughed, wide eyed, “Dawn and I had not met before this trip. Not until Nashville. She asked a last minute question, ‘Do you by chance have a secret talent for cutting hair? I really want my hair cut on this trip.’ And no, I DO NOT cut hair.”
“The least we can do is cut some hair,” they said.
God sent hairstylists. I laughed out loud, genuinely, joyfully, spontaneously, for the first time that day.
Be still and know that I am God.
I told them about the blog post the previous day; about the verse God spoke to my heart and my response and anger; and about my questioning and pleading that He DO SOMETHING!
He did something. It wasn’t what I wanted or expected. He smacked me with a verse I welcomed about as much as the adage one of our doctors enjoys, “One day at a time.” And then he sent hairstylists to remind me that while His answers will sometimes be no. But He still cares. He is watching.
It could have been an awful end to a difficult day. It was a struggle to not let it be. However, in the same way I sat with Marissa and reminded her I loved her, would never leave her, would always fight for her even if I didn’t have the answers she wanted and could not fix anything, God reminded me that He does the same for me.
I Don’t Want a Testimony — But I Have One
I don’t know His greater purpose. I’ve screamed at Him that I don’t want a testimony. I just want Him to fix my family. I’m not going to lie and tell you that I’m not still hurting, angry, and frustrated. Even as I write this, I wonder if I will ever get past these feelings.
I think God is okay with that. He is my Father. He walks beside me; He is on the road with me, providing lodging, meals, and opportunities. When I sit down out of fatigue, frustration, or even sheer stubborn refusal to go on, He sits with me. Even when I am angry, even when I slam the door, He is a good Father. He doesn’t leave. He has always been and will always be with me.
God created you for a purpose. He may not tell you the purpose. I don’t think there is anything He could tell me that would ease the pain of what we are going through, and maybe that is why I don’t get to know right now. I can’t understand so much of Him. So he makes Himself apparent and comprehensible in the ways I can understand, if I will just lift my stubborn eyes and open my heart long enough.
He sends friends, family, and Bible verses. He uses complete strangers and chance connections. He sends special doctors and grand adventures. And once, he even sent two hairstylists.
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