I stood next to my daughter's stroller in the middle of the soccer field. My son and husband ran down the field with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. They kicked a ball back and forth between them. Smiling the whole time.
Sage squirmed and cried out from her stroller. She pointed at everyone running on the field and then urgently pounded her hand on the buckle of the stroller. Her sign that she wants out.
My sister-in-law took Sage out and held her as she ran. For a while. Sage is getting heavy and there is a limit to the time anyone can hold her.
She was not happy about having to go back in her stroller. I pushed the stroller a little and ran after her daddy a few paces. She giggled and calmed down. We watched everyone else running free. For a little while.
Then the pointing and crying out started again.
It was at this point that my mother-in-law showed up with her dog after their walk. The dog was excited about being at the field. My husband's uncle held the leash for awhile and then decided to let the dog go.
It was amazing to watch the dog run. He leapt and jumped and dashed all across the field. Everyone cheered him on as he ran back and forth from person to person.
I watched. But all I could hear were my daughters whines to get out of the stroller. All I could see were her imploring eyes begging to be set free.
And that's when it struck me. Hard.
My daughter is like this dog. Leashed.
I watched the dog dash quickly across the field. Her joy at being free to run was palpable. And I thought, "This is what my daughter's soul wants to do."
She wants to run free. She wants to dash quickly from her dad to her brother. She wants to dance and run and keep up with her cousins.
Sometimes she makes me laugh with how unaware she seems to be of her own limitations. I hold her and she twists and strains in my arms as if she thinks that if I would only let her go she could run.
I love that she isn't overly aware of her limitations. I love her determination. Her eagerness to try things. I love how strong her desire is to move and get somewhere.
But it breaks my heart. Because I know her limitations.
I hold on to hope that she will walk and talk someday, but I am keenly aware of the odds.
Standing there watching that dog set free my heart broke. This is what my daughter's soul longs to do, and it's unlikely that she ever will.
And then I had another thought, "This must have been what the man who had been crippled since birth was like when Jesus healed him." Jumping and dancing and praising God.
There was a quiet, whispered, prayer in my heart at that moment, a simple plea, "Someday..."
I don't know what God will do in my daughters life or her body. And I believe that sometimes the bigger miracles come when God leaves us in our circumstances. There is a lot of beauty and good that can be worked in our hearts and the hearts of others from hardship, lack, and brokenness. I know that full well.
I know that God will work good in my daughter and through my daughter because of her disabilities. But there is still a part of my heart that hopes that one day...
her disabilities wouldn't serve as a leash holding her back.
That one day...
she wouldn't feel left out when everyone is running and playing together.
That one day...
she would move as freely and as joyfully as that dog, running free.
Rejoicing in the journey, Bethany