“1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’
3 ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.’”
Sheesh. If I could tell you how many times people have responded to our mishaps and losses and diagnoses with, “it’s all part of God’s plan,” I’d be able to pay off Charlie’s therapy bills. Yet here Jesus is, explaining to his newbie disciples that this man who has never seen a leaf or a loaf of bread is all part of the plan. It seems like such a pat answer. But the disciples’ question deserved such a response. And sometimes we do too.
When we were going through the hard years of infertility, the years filled with pills and shots and ultrasounds and IUIs and IVF and miscarriage, guilt was my biggest emotion. What was I doing that was preventing us from getting pregnant or staying pregnant? What would make the magic happen? Why was God ignoring me?
Then when Charlie was diagnosed in utero with Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome and we had him THAT SAME DAY at thirty weeks and lived in the NICU for twelve and took him home with a trach and later a g-tube, all I asked was what should I do? He was my responsibility and I did not want to miss a step. When he was “officially” diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age one, I took a microscope to every single moment of my pregnancy and delivery to see where I had stepped out of line. All finger pointing was by me at me. This is not a healthy response, but I think it’s a common one.
All parents feel guilt, special needs parents especially, because our kids cannot always get or tell us what they need. Are they happy? Are they safe? Are they thriving or just existing? It all feels very ACTIVE on our part to make their lives liveable.
What I hear now when I read these words from Jesus, is that it’s all part of God’s plan to prove that it is not my fault or in my hands. We all want to find the base error when something goes awry because we all want a linear cause and effect. God doesn’t work that way, or he does, but his line is much longer than mine. Jesus healed the blind man while the disciples watched that day. Charlie will not be “healed” of his diagnoses until after this life is over. But what a testimony to God’s power he has already been. He IS happy. He IS thriving. The kid leaves an impression. He is reminding me every day that he belongs to something bigger than me. I do not know the cause but I have been called to be part of the effect.