We Never Grow Without Growing Pains

A couple months ago, when my book was being published, my youngest son and I were discussing why I wanted to publish in the first place. I had told him earlier that it was very uncomfortable to lay my life out there like that, sharing myself with countless unknown others, but especially uncomfortable to have to “promote myself.” I have always been a rather private person, and the kind of  “selling of self” that is required in self-publishing is extremely painful for me.

Being the wise and wonderful 14-year old that he is, Joshua asked why I would do something that causes so much pain. Hmmm…good question. My answer was quite simple (not exactly easy, but simple). I said that more than anything I want to bring comfort and reassurance to other cancer survivors. Also, by selling the book, I hope to raise money to help with the exorbitant expenses that other cancer patients struggle with each day (proceeds go to the Atlanta Cancer Care Foundation). In doing this, I hope that I am growing as a person while helping others live and grow, too. Again, my wise young son commented that it seemed to him that growing hurts. And he is right. Growing definitely causes growing pains.

He recently went to the orthopedist for leg pains, after receiving a couple of seemingly minor blows in karate. After x-rays and a thorough exam, the doctor said he was experiencing extra pain in these regions due to excessive bone growth over the past 12 months. He has grown six inches in less than a year and his leg tendons have yet to catch up–thus, the “growing pains” he feels when his legs bend more than the tendons can handle. Growing causes growing pains.

Emotional growth also causes growing pains. The pains of moving outside our comfort zones can be just as excruciating as the physical growing pains of youth. This past weekend, my youngest once again helped me grow, while growing himself…and once again, the growth has caused growing pains.

Saturday morning, as my hubby and I enjoyed one last cup of “joe” before heading back to the karate studio to pick Joshua up from practice, we received a phone call from the studio. Josh had been kicked in the forehead during a practice match and could no longer see from his left eye. A minor blow to the head caused a MAJOR crisis.

We rushed him to the ER, spent a few hours running CT scans and ultrasounds (did you know they can actually ultrasound the EYE?!) and then were sent all the way to Atlanta to see a retina specialist–amazing that one was actually in the office on a Saturday!! He said that Joshua was suffering from a bruised retina and was hoping to have a better idea what was going on after he saw him again on Thursday.

Thursday, after another extensive exam–and a week of not allowing a VERY active young man to do ANYTHING for fear of raising the blood pressure in his head–the doctor said the bruise was gone and he thinks my handsome young son has damaged his optic nerve (traumatic optic neuropathy) and must see a neuro-opthalmologist! And worst case scenario…he won’t regain his sight!

Imagine hearing that your 14-year old–with big dreams and plans for a future in engineering and a already-budding little career in karate–will now only see out of one eye. As we drove home the tears began to flow…mine! Once again, my wise-beyond-his-years child imparted wisdom. “Mom, it’s okay. I can still see out of one eye. Some people can’t see at all. And if I had cancer–instead of an eye injury–I might die. And once you’re dead, you’re dead. There’s no second chance. Even cats don’t really have nine lives, and we don’t get two. But I have two eyes, and one still works! I’ll be just fine.” Wow!

Somehow my son understands the big picture of life way beyond the scope of his supposedly narcissistic teen years. While I was wallowing in the fears of the unknown and grieving the possibly-permanent loss of his vision; he was thanking His Creator that it was only one eye, not both. Not his life–just his eye.

This growth lesson I am certain will be an ongoing process for all of us. There will be good and bad days. Strong moments and moments of despair. But in the days and weeks to come, I will hold firm to my son’s instinctive wisdom and grow stronger in the faith that he is already grasping tight.

Growing causes growing pains…but out of the mouths of babes we sometimes find wisdom, truth, and relief from the pain.

(Update: Josh has seen the neuro-opthalmologist–it IS optic neuropathy, but thus far, the nerve has not died (good news!). He is on high-dose steroids to hopefully decrease inflammation and promote healing (controversial procedure, but the other option is “sit and wait”) His attitude is still strong and every day his dad and I get a little stronger, too!)

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