It was backwards night at kids club; an opportunity for the kids and leaders to be a little silly and wear our clothes backwards and begin with the closing activities and work our way to the beginning of the evening routine.
My children went all out. Jeans, shirts, hair ... all backwards. I eyed my outfit and figured that being 40 has earned me the right to wear my jeans properly, even on backwards night. I did however, wear my t-shirt backwards and I put my hair up, instead of wearing it down. Very backwards of me, I thought.
It had been a pretty good day.
I had made some important decisions and I had spent hours at the computer, sending emails and receiving emails and our Christmas holiday plans were nearly finalized. I had done a lot of baking and made a delicious supper and the house smelled like home and all was well with the world.
However, as I returned to the house at 2:30 a.m. after spending 6 hours in the emergency department at the hospital, with a daughter with two broken wrists, I reflected upon the fact that life can take a nasty step backwards sometimes and this lurch into reverse isn't really all that pleasant.
All my rejoicing during the afternoon suddenly felt so ridiculous. I had been bustling about my kitchen feeling so loved and blessed. I was thanking God for the holiday my husband had suggested, I was rejoicing that we had nearly finalized all the details and all that remained was to eagerly await the date and get packing. My biggest concern was going to be trying to buy bathing suits for some growing daughters, in Canada, in December.
But then, it was backwards night and my daughter was running the backwards race (and winning -- a detail that she likes to have known) and she fell and put her arms out to break her fall and she broke her wrists.
Pale and white, driving to the hospital, she asks me in a small and teary voice if we will still go to Florida. I answer that I'm not sure, maybe we won't. She is sad..... and relieved. Sad, because we have all been looking forward to the trip, but relieved, because she doesn't want to be the one sitting beside the pool while we are all swimming and splashing. But she tears up even more and chokes out that she feels so bad because it will be all her fault if we don't go.
I grip the steering wheel hard and I speak words that I need to hear just as much as my dear daughter and I tell her that it is not her fault. I tell her that God knows all about it and He is the One who is in control of all things and we need to trust Him and we don't know what He is going to do. Of course, she asks the inevitable question, one that I have no answer for. "Why did I have to break my wrists?" I give the only answer I can honestly give. "I don't know, but He has a plan." We pray as we drive. I tell her I will pray with my eyes open because I'm driving -- she manages a little smile at my weak attempt at humour.
And that is how it happened that life went into reverse. With some backwards steps, there came pain, discomfort and disappointment. I fell weary into my bed and I wondered what the plan was, because it had all seemed so different in the afternoon and now it seemed that all blessing was stripped away. My heart felt exposed. I felt like I had been trifled with. Joy held out before me, but in a teasing gesture, suddenly pulled back. I wanted to be upset and maybe even throw a little fit. Really, it is one thing for me to experience disappointment, but did my daughter have to fall hard and break bones to teach me something? However, I resisted the urge to give in to anger and self-pity, instead I clung to the words I had spoken to my daughter. God knows all about it and He has a plan.
We are still trying to find our way through this backwards place. My daughter is living with two casts, and she can't turn doorknobs, wear mittens or write neatly at school. Now the flu has hit her and she is sleeping on the couch with a fever. My husband is working long, weary hours and the deadline might still not be met. My littlest daughters have coughs and sneezes that just keep hanging on and my son struggles each day with homework and a self imposed seriousness and sense of responsibility that is a bit too heavy for a 10 year old.
I'm the mother, I'm supposed to keep everyone going and teach peace and confidence and trust in a loving God. I need to point these young ones to the promises Christ gives us in His word. I need to set the example of the truth that:
"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Phil. 4:13
"He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure." Isaiah 33:6
So, while life is going in reverse, I am trying to hold steady. Clinging to the rock, the immovable One. I will draw strength and comfort from the true source of peace. For one backwards night revealed how quickly plans, health, comfort and security can all be swept away. My confidence must be in Him alone.
On backwards night, at kids club, the verse we learned was:
My soul finds rest in God alone. My salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 52:1-2
By the grace of God, I pray that this will be true in my own life and in the lives of all Christ's followers who find life going into reverse. May our souls find rest in God alone -- may we never be shaken.