Between my husband’s amazing fried turkey and the time right before the all-consuming Christmas season, is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year. Every year we’ve tried to make it a tradition to go around the room and say what we are thankful for. It’s a time of reflecting and giving God additional thanks for the abundance of blessings in our life. However, this time last year, I struggled to find anything to be grateful for. Deep down I knew that there was plenty to be thankful for, but in my heart, I resented where I was; where my son’s health was. On August 31, 2012, my beautiful 6-month-old son was diagnosed with cancer. How could this be? How could I be in this place again? My father died of cancer when I was 11-years-old and as silly as it sounds, I had rationalized with God that I’d already had my fair share of suffering. This shouldn’t be happening…God shouldn’t allow this to happen. But, it did. One day life was normal, simple, and the next it was overwhelming, hard, and unfair.
As hard as it was that August, the days leading up to Thanksgiving were the darkest. A couple of days before Thanksgiving, my son went for his eye checkup and the doctors saw a small tumor on his left eye. He had already lost his right eye to cancer. As we left the hospital, I felt like I was sinking. I grieved for my son’s lost eye. I mourned over the constant exams under anesthesia and additional visits to doctors and specialists. In the twelve months that followed his diagnosis, my son had his right eye enucleated, countless check-ups, ear tubes, and even an unexpected kidney surgery.
Several months passed and I heard God speak to me. I was reading a blog of a woman who had lost her premature baby three hours after delivering her. She and her husband had planned to have a large family, but because of the circumstances surrounding the loss of her child, every future pregnancy would be extremely risky. Then, she posted a quote that struck me, “What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be.” I felt the Lord speak to me about my life and my expectations. I often wanted a victory without a battle; a breakthrough without any breaking, a mountain high without the climb.
Throughout this situation, I’ve learned that having faith in God is trusting him even with our expectations- the expectations of what our life is supposed to be like. I wish I could say that I have arrived and that I look at my son’s illness with complete trust in God’s plan. But, the reality is that I’m not there yet. What I do know is that in the midst of this struggle, I have seen God show up and remind me that I’m not alone. He’s not done with me yet, and for that I’m grateful. So, this Thanksgiving, I’m grateful that my son is here and healthy, with a beautiful eye that allows him to see.
What would our lives be like if we didn’t paint this picture in our head of what our life is supposed to be- this unrealistic picture that only sets us up for disappointment and frustration? What if we took God at his word that with life’s mountains and valleys, He is there for us? Isn’t that enough for us? From my experience, He is more than enough. I realize that more each day. If you are in the midst of a trial, I encourage you to lay your situation and expectations down and trust that God is more than enough.
Delilah Navarrete has been married to her college sweetheart, Jesus, for 8 years. She is also the proud mother of Luis Noe (4 years old) and Lucas (a year old). She and her family are members of Covenant Church McKinney.