Shared pain is diminished, shared joy is increased. — Spider Robinson
I had a blog post all ready for Tuesday — still do, in rough draft form — but found that I didn’t have enough energy to flesh it out that evening. (Incidentally, if 36 hours go by here without a new post, and I haven’t said I’m going to be absent, assume I’m just exhausted. And, ideally, pray for me.) It’s happened a lot that way: wanting to write, but not having the get-up-and-go to get the words out. Part of it is physical — as you know if you read my stuff, I have a lot going on. Part of it is mild drepression, which I’ve had to deal with my whole life but which gets tougher with … well, all that I have going on.
And part of it is wondering if anyone’s reading. Seriously. WordPress tracks how many looks my blog gets every day, and lately the numbers have been low — single digits, usually. I know how important it is to be faithful even when you see no results, to trust God and let him bring the increase, et cetera. Heck, my hero from the Bible (after Jesus) is the prophet Jeremiah, who preached for forty years and only saw one convert result from it. But I’m human, I want to be liked. And it’s hard to spend an hour or two on this — on anything — every day when you’re not getting much feedback, when it can be empirically proven that few people are noticing it. And I’d been wondering if I should continue, though I hadn’t actually gotten to the stage of asking God if it was “time’s up” for this project.
And then, on Wednesday night, I got an e-mail …
Before I go on, some bits of background in case you’re new to Ray Anselmo, Professional Outsider:
- I’ve written a lot about the big crisis in my life, my son Sean’s fight against Leigh’s disease.
- You, the reader, can comment on anything I write, using the box at the bottom of this (or any other) page.
- Whenever someone does comment, WordPress sends me an e-mail saying “hey, somebody commented on so-and-such!”
So on Wednesday night, I got an e-mail saying that someone had written a reply to my latest update on Sean’s condition. And it stopped me dead in my tracks.
I’m wondering if I might be stretching things to assume that I can blog about the people who wrote me in any detail. I may be pushing my luck by mentioning it at all here, though they have accepted an offer for me to send out a prayer request for them to our prayer network, so my gut tells me they’ll probably be okay with it. (If they’re not, I’m sure they’ll tell me — and this post will get HEAVILY edited ASAP.) The gist of their response was to ask some questions about Sean’s experiences — how old he is, when the disease manifested, what medicines he’s taking, that sort of thing.
The reason for their questions was that their daughter has been diagnosed with Leigh’s. She turns 1 next month.
Did that hit you like a punch to the solar plexus? ‘Cause that’s how it hit me. That’s how it hits me every time I think about it. I actually woke my wife up to discuss it with her — to have someone to discuss it with, really — and it hit her like that too. Think about it — you long for a child, you wait for it to arrive, you daydream about what it’ll be like, you give birth to a beautiful daughter … and doctors pronounce a death sentence over her before she gets to smear her first taste of birthday cake icing into her hair. If you aren’t affected by that picture, take yourself to the nearest morgue, because you’re dead.
Needless to say, I didn’t write a blog entry Wednesday night — I wrote those dear parents in as much detail as I could manage, telling them what we’ve been through, all we’re trying to do for Sean, and how we can’t really account for his slow recovery except to attribute it to all the people around the world who are praying for him. Nor is that even the whole explanation, because we know people whose healing has been prayed for, and who died anyway. Sean is an outlier, the only kid we know of who’s been diagnosed with Leigh’s, had that diagnosis backed by incontrovertible tests, and who’s started to get better. (He’s also the only one this girl’s parents know of, too.) The only explanation I can give is that God doesn’t want him in Heaven just yet. It’s not much to go on, but it’s all we’ve got.
Thursday, I was too tired — emotionally drained, I guess — to do much of anything; I spent the whole day suppressing yawns, with not much success. But I was also thinking. And I came to a decision: if the only thing that ever comes from me writing this blog is that I’ve been able to give at least one little measure of comfort to these parents who are facing a nearly unbearable situation, then I’m good with it. If, like Esther, I have been called “for such a time as this,” that God’s entire will for this is to be here talking about my life when these two people need to hear it, then all the hundreds of hours I’ve spent are worth it. If no one ever reads it again, if that’s it, then that’s it, and I thank Him for the opportunity.
Now, I’m not going to stop writing, because you never know, God may have more plans for my scribblings. God certainly had plans for Jeremiah’s. He may have only seen one conversion in his lifetime (the Ethiopian eunuch Ebed-Melech), but he occupies more real estate in the Scriptures than any writer except Moses, David, Isaiah, Luke and Paul. His writings have been a kick in the conscience and a source of comfort to untold thousands of readers, including me. I don’t think for a moment that I’ll ever achieve that kind of stature. But like Jeremiah, knowing that I’m doing God’s will — and that at least one person’s pain has been diminished by me sharing mine — is enough to keep me going.
Thank you to all who have prayed for Sean and for his family, and please don’t stop. And while you’re doing that, pray for Annika Knutson (soon to be 1) and her family as well. She’s as precious in the sight of the Almighty as my Seanster Monster is — and just as loved by her mommy and daddy.
And please keep reading. Because you never know what God’s gonna do next to increase our joy.