Last week as we enjoyed a walk after lunch in this beautiful fall weather, we talked about something that Sophie is really grappling with right now: The fair is over. If you live in Fairfield county, you probably share her dismay. We do love our fair. She loved everything about the fair — the animals, the big tractors, watching the rides, seeing the high school instrumental bands — she loved it all. I was not anticipating this response because she can easily be overwhelmed by heightened sensory situations. But she has asked me all day every day if we could go back. Now we are trying to help her come to terms with the fact that the fair is over. So, as we walked earlier this week, we talked about thankfulness and contentment. I told her, “It’s better to be thankful for what we got to do and what we do have than to look at what we don’t have anymore or can’t have.”
When life takes hard turns as ours has taken over the past almost four years, it’s good, as I told Sophie, to practice thankfulness. It leads us into contentment rather than discontentment, longing for that which we cannot have. For Sophie, it’s the fair. Hard as it is for her to understand, everybody went home. For me, it’s something bigger. As I wrestle through this WSS prognosis, I’m ever mindful of the many blessings that I do have.
Counting your blessings may be a trite cliche, but boy is it useful in real life. I’m just saying. It is really useful. So, on our walk, we counted our blessings, all the things that we can express thankfulness for in our lives. Micah’s answer was what I expected: “Helicaa” — he’s thankful for helicopters. Yes, of course. Sophie’s answer was just so touching. I listed off some things that we can be thankful for to give her some examples, and then I asked her what she was thankful for. Without hesitation, and with her voice (rare for her to answer that way without prompting), she said “Mama.” I’m thankful for you, too, baby girl, so very thankful.
My life, my walk of faith, is so much richer for Sophie’s presence. Who would I be without her experiences? I’m reminded of Milton’s notion that we need the bad to see the good — without the former, we would never recognize the latter. Without having been through the joy of the fair, we wouldn’t recognize its absence and long for its return. Without the parenting challenges of reflux, hypotonia, nystagmus, eye surgery, MRIs, apraxia and WSS, those rock hard challenges that we’ve faced thus far, what in turn, would be lacking in my faith, and in my joy, over each success Sophie experiences? So much. Dickinson echoes a similar idea: “Success is counted sweetest by those who ne’er succeed.” Truth is, maybe we need the hard times so that we climb up into those ramparts like Habakkuk to look for God’s words to us, to gain perspective, to see what our blessings truly are. Thankfulness. It’s a good idea.
My heart echoes the prayer of Habakkuk after he hears the word of the Lord to convey His message to the world. His world looks dismal, but he chooses joy; he chooses thankfulness: “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. … Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful before God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”