On Tuesday I drove down to the medical records department for Arnold Palmer Hospital. It’s been three years since Reagan’s crisis and I remember so many specific details from that time.
Driving down the 408 toward downtown, I started getting teary-eyed. I remember driving down here with my neighbor while Rob rode in the ambulance with Reagan.
I remember walking around the lake in front of the hospital, moving from waves of despair to hope.
“I need to get some medical records.”
The gal points me to a clipboard with the pen that’s married to it and tells me to fill out the highlighted sections. It’s amazing to me, that here in this building, a block from the hospital, my daughter’s file sits. All the information from her stay, it’s right there. I feel like I’m a Jeopardy contestant: “What are the medical facts from April 2014?”
I paid $6.92 for a CD, that has MRI images of Reagan’s brain damage; looking at those images and hearing the results changed our lives forever. All the worst moments of our life are from that hospital stay, and this little disc of records has every note and image compartmentalized in folders, written in a language I don’t understand. That records department keeps the facts from cases that go in and out of that hospital, telling a story on paper, but never the full story.
When I left, I drove around the hospital complex, looped around the Ronald McDonald house where we stayed for weeks, and I allowed myself to feel grief for that time, thankfulness for now, and went home. Mentally I was purposeful to remind myself, Reagan’s crisis is not her identity. Her abilities and disabilities, that’s not her identity either. Those records do not define who she is. It’s part of her story, part of our family’s testimony, but not our identity.
God’s been teaching me a lesson in identity recently, and that is, that my identity is not wrapped up in my abilities, my performance at work, how I parent, how I am as a friend or a wife, and my identity is not in my successes or failures. My identity is in Christ and because of that, I have the ability to surrender to his purpose, his will and his love. Surrender in this sense is not being weak, it’s being free. Free to say, “Ok God, that didn’t happen how I would have hoped, but I know you have me on the best path for your Kingdom.” If my identity is in my sales numbers, what happens if the market goes south? If my identity is wrapped up in my performance, performance of my friends, family, Reagan, then I’ll need everything to go well to feel valued, to feel a purpose. That would be incredibly exhausting.
I know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Having your identity is in Christ, allows a more peaceful life, regardless of circumstance. This is what I’m striving toward, I am (continually) learning to trust that God has my best in mind and that his purpose for me was determined before I was ever on this earth, and his purpose and will is what is best. I have to trust that, because what my eyes see and what I understand are not the same as what God knows.
Parenting Reagan has been my biggest challenge and lesson in trust, humility and surrender to God’s purpose. Of course I can look at Reagan and know that her identity is not in her crisis, she is so much more than her struggles and achievements. She was made for identity in Christ too, and she was made for us to watch God restore her! He’s used such a terrible thing, and repurposed it for his glory, that’s what God does and only he can do it.
Never backwards. Always forward. Always.
It’s currently our family motto. Because living in the past and in the what ifs, is not the abundant life God talks about for us, or for anyone. Living with our eyes fixed ahead and up, is the direction God is leading anyway. Never backwards. Always forward. Always.