Zoey was so amazing on Day 2 and 3 of vacation Bible school that I woke up this morning expecting everything to go great! I asked God to reveal to me what he wanted me to learn that day from the theme “When Life is Sad, God is Good!” I thought, I can easily write about sadness!
We have been through so many sad moments in the past seven years. I remember crying on the floor in my closet, “Please, God, just help Zoey to grow!” She was diagnosed with failure to thrive when she was three months old, but we were able to help her grow by visiting a gastroeneterologist and trouble shooting her nutrition plan. I bawled tears as I had to stop nursing her, feed her with a special bottle at a special angle, and fortify my breast milk to 27 calories per ounce. That was not how I wanted God to answer my prayer! I wanted her to thrive off of breast milk alone and without bottles. This was truly a sorrowful moment in my life.
I also cried out to God one day while in the bathroom with Zoey during poop duty, “God, just help me to be happy!” God’s answer was immediate! Zoey signed “Papa” and the grabbed her tiny little nose for the first time and made a nose blowing sound. She was imitating my husband’s loud nose blowing sound that made her laugh. This made me crack up instantly. Gotta love God for being so good to turn a sad moment into a jolly one!
And then there is my chronic sadness that I refer to as chronic sorrow. Chronic sorrow is a continual sadness that never goes away, but I don’t think it is like depression. Depression, to me, means that I no longer want to interact with the world around me because my life circumstances have come to a point where living life is impossible. With chronic sorrow I can still find joy in various moments of my life, but then out of the blue I will be saddened by the fact that Zoey will forever be dependent on people around her and will always have to take medication for her body to function normally. My heart is broken for her.
So because I am so familiar with sadness, I thought maybe I could talk with the kids in our crew about different times that I had been sad or that Zoey had been sad. I was trying to think of a time Zoey was sad during her multiple surgeries, but she has never been sad after any of them. Sometimes she was a little scared, but never sad. In fact, she was able to belly laugh after having major palate surgery. She amazes me. Other than being sad when her food is gone, Zoey is rarely sad about all of the hardest parts of her life. I became a bit disappointed because I didn’t think we would have a way to witness to our kindergarten buddies.
Zoey, apparently, had other plans. Today she was SAD. From the moment we sat down for the opening songs and praise, she turned into me and started to wail. She cried during Bible Adventure because she earned a package of fruit snacks for trying to answer a question, but when the fruit snacks were gone, she was devastated. She cried on and off during Imagination station and laid on the floor covering her ears because she broke a pencil and accidentally kicked a friend with her hard orthotics. She cried during Missions for an unknown reason and we finally just went into the bathroom and sat on a bench so we wouldn’t disturb the other kids. She cried during Games despite me trying to cheer her up. It was insanely hot though! I wanted to cry, too.
Throughout all of these classes, our crew members asked why is she sad. With shame I answered, “She is sad because…
- her fruit snack prize is gone
- she broke the tip of her colored pencil
- she doesn’t want to give away the bag of snacks she prepared for people who have no food
- she wants to have my cell phone
- she wants her favorite music video by Jamie Grace to be on the screen up front and not the VBS songs
- she wants her orthotics off and I said not until snack time
- she doesn’t want to have snack last today.”
Finally, as we were waiting for snack, and Zoey was crying in my arms, I whispered a prayer in her ear, “God, please help Zoey to not be so sad as we go to snack time. Help the snack to give her energy to be happy and give her some laughable moments.” We entered the snack room. I took her shoes and socks off and asked the other crew members if they wanted to smell her stinky socks. They played along and made gross faces. Zoey cracked up! Zoey and I pretended to smell her stinky feet and giggled. We chowed down on chips, salsa, and cheese and she truly had an attitude change. She didn’t cry during the closing song and praise time, but cuddled close to me. Sheesh! Next time I won’t pray at end of the day or limit it to snack time! Lesson learned!
The best moment was when she noticed the cross drawn on my hand and pointed at it. She then pointed at her own cross and looked up at me. I whispered, “We have this cross on our hands to remind us that even when we are sad, God loves us.” We need to remember Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”
After prompting from the leader on stage, I asked Zoey, “What makes you happy?” She signed upstairs, where she hangs out with her sister. I said, “You know what makes me happy, Zoey? Hugs from you.” She turned around and hugged me! It made all my sadness and shame that I felt that my daughter was being sad for trivial reasons melt away. I realized that God is near to the brokenhearted no matter what the cause of their sadness.
Thank you, God, for revealing to me that even when Life is Sad, whether from circumstances that seem trivial, or from major catastrophic changes, God is good.