I am so thankful that I can be complete in Christ.
By God's grace, I hope to use this blog to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ in pursuing Godliness, Holiness, and Radiant Purity! :D

Thursday, January 2, 2014

What Brian taught me

Today is January 2nd, 2014.  Rewind ten years to Friday, January 2nd, 2004.  I was 12 years old.  It was a day just like every day. We were eating lunch and were very lighthearted after just celebrating Christmas and the New Year.  We put the dishes in the sink around 1:00 and went our separate ways. Mom went back to my 15 year old brother Brian's room to check on him, as she always did.  What I heard next was something I never want to hear again.  My mom cried frantically for my dad and I knew something was wrong.  It was all a blur, but before I knew it, there was a fire truck and ambulance in front of our house and emergency workers were in our foyer trying to revive him.  Sean and I were rushed out of the room and then over to our aunt and uncle's house next door.  I wasn't exactly sure what was going on, but I sat on the steps and just prayed that Brian would be okay.  The day wore on and it seemed like forever before Mom and Dad finally came back from the hospital and told us that my brother had died.  I remember feeling sad, but not devastated.  I remember we all sat together and cried as a family, but not as if the worst thing happened and not as if all had been lost.  All had not been lost.  Rather, something had been gained!  Brian traded his temporary body ridden with lissencephaly and discomfort for an eternal perfect body that will be forever in the presence of his Savior.  Yes, of course we were sad that Brian was not with us anymore, but how could we morn on that day, Janurary 2, 2004, knowing that that was the day that for the first time Brian could walk, talk, never have any more seizures, never cough or be congested again, never have to use a feeding tube, and finally be out of pain forever.  

The day after was such a blessing.  Friends, family, neighbors, and tons of food came pouring in.  
The funeral was really uplifting.  Allison, Kayla, and Sharon Sheppard sang "I Can Only Imagine" and all the other preaching and singing was full of hope and joy.  It was raining and there was a detour on the way to the gravesite, but then again, nothing was ever normal or easy with Brian. :) 

So now, looking back after ten years have passed, am I sad today?  Not really.  More than anything I am simply grateful.  However, I was not always this way.  I was by no means a perfect sister.  Everyone always praised me for how much I did for Brian, but honestly, my young heart and mind as a 6 year old or even as a 12 year old was often confused, ungrateful, and selfish.  I didn't realize what a blessing Brian was.  Often, I saw him more as someone who made things a lot harder and inconvenient.  Because of Brian we couldn't do a lot of the things that "normal" families could do.  We couldn't go outside for more than 5 minutes without checking on him.  We had to leave early to go everywhere because we had to have time to put Brian in the wheelchair, get him in the van, and buckle him in.  At church we couldn't be a "normal" quiet family because when he coughed we would have to use the loud suction machine to clear his congestion.  We couldn't go on regular vacations because, of course, we couldn't take Brian with us.  So many little things that most people take for granted....like just going out to the beach as a family was a no small feat. Sometimes it seemed that all the attention was on Brian.  I didn't always get what I wanted when I wanted it.

So why am I grateful now?  Because God knows what He is doing.  Because I am not an atheist or an evolutionist.  Because, whether we believe or acknowledge it, God IS working things together according to His perfect will and He IS sovereign over all.  God knew we needed Brian and He gave him especially to our family to teach us some very special lessons.  Instead of always getting what I wanted I had to learn self-denial at a very young age.  I had to learn humility.  I had to learn patience by putting off immediate gratification. I had to learn how to sacrifice my own interests.  Brian was born with a severe disease which is basically the smoothness of the brain. This made him unable to do really anything (such as walking, taking, eating regularly, or interacting with us as all.) Because of this he needed almost constant care.  I was recently blessed by hearing R.C. Sproul, Jr. speak about his daughter, Shannon, who also had lissencephaly.  It brought me to tears as I heard him say that in the 15 years he had with Shannon, SHE was the one who was God's gift to them for their sanctification.  Brian was God's gift to us.  I continue to learn more and more from him everyday.  He taught me to have compassion and care for those less fortunate than me. I have a special place in my heart for those with special needs now.  I am also better able to reach out to other who have lost siblings or have disabled siblings right now, because I've been through it.  I shared about Brian with all of my campers this summer and it was amazing how it impacted them.  A lot of them told me that they felt like I could relate to them because of it. 

May we all learn to see hard situations that we find ourselves in as beautiful instruments of sanctification for our good and God's glory.  :)

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