It is the lessons of life that teach us contentment! As we live, so we learn, and we are to learn from our experiences.
But we don’t always seem to learn the lesson, and therefore the learning experience can take a whole lot longer than necessary.
As we let the lessons of life teach contentment in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in, we will move from one phase to the next a whole lot quicker.
As it turned out… we found ourselves in a place where we asked…
Why Lord… why are we in this place?
That was the cry of my heart! I sat down to spend some special time with the Lord as I needed some answers. The following is what I received:
Something I had read earlier in the day stated ‘You are God’s child forever’.
I felt the Lord reminding me of that as He took me back to when our son was just a child.
Allowing my mind to follow that direction, it was easy to remember how he would climb up on our knees without any fear of rebuff or rejection of any kind. He knew he was our child and that he belonged.
Trent could ask us for anything, and if it was possible for us to provide, we would… just as long as we knew it was for his good.
We endeavoured never to spoil him as a child, but were always more than willing to bless him with good things.
You see, we had adopted Trent later in life as a special-needs child. He was born with Spina Bifida. I knew, when we brought him home at the age of six months, that Trent filled the hole that had stood empty and vacant within me for such a long time. He filled it up completely.
We bonded almost straight away and as a family we were tremendously happy and content.
Learning how to Roll Over
Trent had to be taught to do a lot of things that children learn naturally. To begin with, we had to teach Trent how to roll over. When he finally learnt this new skill, he’d roll from one end of the room to the other… with a big grin on his face!
Prior to that, Trent had been trapped. If you sat him down you had to be careful that if he fell sideways he wouldn’t hurt himself on anything, because often without warning, he’d topple. If you lay him down, that’s where he would stay… but now he was off and running in a roly-poly kind of a way.
As he continued to grow, Trent had to be carried everywhere. He didn’t know anything other than how to lie down; sit down; be strapped into a chair; or the newly learned achievement of rolling on the floor.
In this photo, on this particular day, we didn’t have the right equipment to take Trent for a walk, so we simply stuffed him in a back pack. He was delighted with the idea… this is different!
The Standing Frame
The time came when our physiotherapist declared he was old enough to learn to stand. How, I wondered? They provided us with a standing-frame.
I’d stand the frame in the living room in front of the TV, then I’d strap him in and give him a biscuit to eat.
Why did he have to do this?
Because it was time to begin to strengthen the muscles in his legs. Up until this time, they’d had virtually no use, and they needed the standing to help make them strong.
At the time, Trent loved Sesame Street on TV, so for that hour in the afternoon he would stand in the standing frame.
Did he complain about it? Not at all!
In fact, I think he quite enjoyed it. He was standing upright like the big people do!
Thinking back, I cannot remember ever hearing a word of complaint out of him. He was completely content… entertainment and food… about as good as it gets!
The Lord reminded how he endured
After the show was over, I’d take him out. He knew I’d do that so he didn’t ever feel trapped, or unhappy for the duration.
Was he depressed because he had to stand in this thing?
No way… there was nothing to be depressed about. He didn’t spend time thinking about what he could, or couldn’t do, or the fact that most other kids didn’t have to do it.
Was he anxious about anything?
Not at all… he gave no thought to what tomorrow would bring. He was completely at peace and in rest, simply standing there eating his bicky, and watching his show.
So it was that the Lord reminded me of this time in Trent’s life, and how he endured it without any complaint.
You see, we were currently in a situation where we felt trapped. Things weren’t working out as we’d like them to. We felt our situation had turned ‘belly-up’ and everything was going wrong. Oh, what to do?
So here was I, before the Lord, seeking some answers together with some direction… and the Lord reminds me of this time in Trent’s life.
I had to ask myself…
OK, are we depressed? Are we worried about anything that happened in our yesterdays?
Well yes, it was depressing! All we wanted was to be able to move on and fix up some areas where we had not gone right before.
Are we anxious? Are we worried about what’s going to happen tomorrow?
Uhm… hmm… yes a bit! We felt like our backs were up against a wall and couldn’t move!
Perfect peace can only be experienced when you are living in today… not worried about the future, or concerned about what happened yesterday.
This is a little like Trent standing there in his standing frame. He was not worried or depressed because he was trapped in that contraption… he was completely at peace.
The Lord told me we had to be like that now.
From Standing Frame to a Walking-Frame
Then the Lord took me on… and reminded me of how things happened for Trent following the standing frame experience.
As his leg muscles began to strengthen, a time came when he was to move onto the next phase of learning how to walk. By now he was crawling around. He crawled for years. The crawl finally developed into what we called a ‘spider-walk’. For this, he would walk on all fours… both hands, and both feet, holding his body up off the floor. He did this for a long time too.
The day came when they provided him with a tiny walking-frame. Well, can you imagine this? Here was our young child, around four years of age, suddenly discovering a whole new experience.
I remember the first time I took him to town shopping with this new addition. Previously he had to be taken in a stroller, but not now… he was independent for the first time in his life. There we were walking through an arcade, and oops, where’s Trent? Oh, there he is, he’s in that shop! Oh, where is he now… there he is over in the next shop! This is the way it went as he discovered everything!
People everywhere would stop and watch in amazement as he wandered all over the arcade. It was a wonderful day, and had us absolutely rejoicing!
But, he couldn’t have done this if he hadn’t spent all that time strapped in the standing frame unable to move. The standing frame was the first long period, taking him to wonderful new experiences.
As we currently feel trapped inside our standing frame, can we envision that it’s a time of preparation that will lead us to times of great joy? Can we be content during this lesson of life?
From a Walking Frame to Walking Sticks
Finally, the Lord caused me to remember the next step in his life.
The enormous amount of walking Trent was now able to do, continued to strengthen his legs and prepare him for his next adventure!
How scary he first found them to be! He so much preferred the solid feel of the walking frame. But we continued to encourage him to pick them up and have a go.
He wasn’t always keen during his lessons of life to move on to the next phase.
Gradually he got used to the feeling of unsteadiness and managed to handle the movement he was unused to. All things considered, it didn’t really take that long and suddenly he was off.
At first he put one forward and then the other, taking a step forward each time, but before we knew it, he left all that ‘boring stuff’ behind! He learnt how to swing himself on those sticks and leave us far behind! Could he go!
Marathon shows me what pure determination can do
One day when he was in about fifth grade, the school held a marathon to raise money. The children had to walk or run around the entire oval, then grab a stamp on their sheet before taking off on the next lap. They were supposed to do it ten times.
I took Trent down there that day and when I looked at the distance they expected, I simply encouraged him to go out and complete one circuit. “Take your time – you don’t have to rush” I said.
So off he went. Before long he was back to receive a stamp and there was I to cheer him and his effort. I didn’t expect that he would want to do more than that.
But not Trent! Off he went again!
Do you know… he completed all ten laps of that oval, and did it in the same time as most of the other kids! I told you he could go when he got those sticks moving!
Was I amazed? You’d better believe it!
So that standing frame, had led to the walking frame, which then led to the walking sticks, or should I call them ‘swinging-sticks’!
My son had found a new life!
Trent walks unaided
Then one day I saw something else amazing. I was standing in a queue with my friend with Trent beside me. At this stage he could take some steps holding onto our hand. But on this day, as I was talking, I saw him take three steps… all on his own. When it registered with me what he had just done, I asked him to do it again. He walked back to me!
Oh the joy! Oh the wonder of it all! As a baby, they had told us he would never walk, and yet I had just witnessed his first three unaided steps, years and years after most kids, but he finally got there.
Of-course, as time marched by, Trent learned to walk totally unaided. It’s not a perfect walk, but it’s a walk, and that’s all that matters.
When he goes down town shopping, he will always take his wheelchair, simply because he can move about so much faster, and it’s not as tiring on him as a lot of aided or unaided walking can be. Other than that, when he’s at home, the wheelchair remains locked in the boot of his car.
As my mind was busy remembering all of this, I began to realise what the Lord was trying to tell me. There is never a period in your life that is a waste of time… every period is important. One period, leads us to the next period.
Lessons of Life Teach Contentment – Learn to be content wherever we are at
We have to learn to be content in whatever period we are in. No whinging. No whining. Depression – none. Anxiety – none! Each period is only for a time, and when we are ready, the Lord moves us onto the next period of our lives.
Each period brings with it more freedom and joy than we had before. Not necessarily straight away, but it will come.
We are to be like Trent, totally accepting of his current circumstance, and not worried about what was coming. Just a knowing that everything is in hand and that God only ever has good thoughts towards us.
I thank God that he has used the life experiences of our son to teach us to comprehend what we must do in each and every circumstance. The fact that lessons of life teach us contentment in every circumstance we find ourselves in, is huge. We must take hold of these lessons and make them a crucial part of our everyday life.
This morning I came across this verse:
‘I will not forget you. See, I have written your name on my hand.’ Isaiah 49:15-16
How cool is that?