Have you seen the soda commercial where a young man uses a time machine to save himself from situations like getting a drink poured over his head or getting punched? Even though the commercial is supposed to be funny and the things that the man goes back to fix are rather shallow, it made me think. What would I go back and change?
One thing, I might do: I would go back to when I was 11 or 12. I lit a fire in the field behind our house with my friend. While I knew we needed to control the fire and put it out, apparently my friend did not, because the next day he started a fire and burned several acres. It only burned the brush in the field, but I felt pretty guilty about the day before and wished I had not been playing with fire. Maybe if I had been there it wouldn’t have gotten out of control.
Perhaps I would go back to when I was a teenager. I was very awkward around girls, and when I finally got a girl-friend she didn’t really like me. She was just trying to get back at another guy by dating me. While I felt very hurt by her, it didn’t give me a reason to tell her a lie that hurt her in order to get revenge.
While I might go back to those events in my life and make them turn out differently, I know for sure I would go back to when our first child was born and tell myself three things.
First, let others help. People will ask “how can we help?” don’t say you are OK when you’re not. I want to be in control. I want to think I am an independent guy who can do it all. What I learned is I can’t. People won’t understand what you are going through. They won’t understand how you feel inside, but they will show you they care by cooking a meal or cleaning your house. Let them help. Get over the Lone Ranger thing!
Second, snap out of it! I know how I felt; lost, overwhelmed, scared and just generally clueless, but your wife and child need you. Figure out how to help more. Make sure you give your wife time to get out, recharge or just have time to herself. She needs it just as much or more than you do. Just because she is at home, not going to a job outside the house, doesn’t mean she doesn’t need a break. She has the harder job. Let her know that by doing what you can to help carry her burdens.
Thirdly, you are all going to be ok. God has a plan and it is good! (see Jeremiah 29:11) Eighteen years later I can say I wouldn’t want to go through that again. All of the surgeries and therapies, triumphs and disappointments; yes it was a struggle at times but it has made you and your child who you are. Despite his disability he is strong, confident and smart. That is something I wouldn’t trade.