I'm well overdue for a Clubfoot Files post! Truth is, it's such a small part of our lives now that I don't have much to talk about. I do want to do a 'big girl bed' post - so look for that sometime. However, I did want to write a little post about perspective, specifically to those clubfoot parents who might stumble across this while reading my older posts on the subject. And I guess it's a good message for anyone.
So, our church has been doing a message series called In the Meantime (here if you are so inclined). The premise is that sometimes we are faced with challenges in life where things are just kinda crappy for a while - maybe months or years or even the rest of our lives. You aren't going to work your way out of it, whatever it may be - basically something that you just need to endure and find a way to do so without losing hope or giving up.
It brought to mind a few struggles we've gone through in our family. I should say, it also brought to mind some really powerful, heartbreaking circumstances experienced by others we know, and our problems certainly pale in comparison.
But I thought of clubfoot. We couldn't change it when we first found out. We couldn't work or study or pray or wish our way out of it. Our daughter was going to be born with clubfoot. Simple as that. It seemed like such an insurmountable burden at the time.
Of course, you can go back to some of my other posts about it to see that we soon realized that we were blessed - yes, blessed - that it was just a foot! A fixable foot! There are so many other evils in the world - a foot is not such a big deal and treatment is so very possible. And of course now we are at the smooth-sailing part of treatment where we're almost done and the burdens of early treatment feel like worlds away. It's easy to gloss over it all at this point.
But today's part of the series, especially, hit home in a real way for me. During struggles, it's so easy to ask "why?" - why did this happen? why did God put this on us? what is the point of this? - and really, there's no easy answer. But one of the ways we can view our hardships, instead of trying to figure out why, is to see it through the lens that the challenges we face put us in a unique position to comfort someone else who is going through a similar challenge.
When thinking this post through in my head, I worried it would come across as self-congratulatory or arrogant - so please don't read it as such. It's so not what I'm going for. But I want to say that I have received so so so many emails over the past three years from parents who have just found out their baby will or does have clubfoot. They get the scary news and they start googling. My blog shows up and they read my Clubfoot Files posts. So many wonderful and kind and inspiring strangers have taken the time to sit down and write me emails - to tell me their stories and ask questions or seek advice - and usually, to say that my words have given them some measure of comfort.
Part of the series today talked about how our ability to comfort others going through similar struggles is life-giving to both the one receiving the comfort and to us too through the act of giving comfort. I feel so much joy when I receive those emails from parents. I hurt for their sorrow and worry and fear, but I feel so honored to be able to help take even one tiny bit of their grief from them. I always forward those emails for Tony to read and I always make sure to sit down at the actual computer when I have a good chunk of time to reply. I take them so seriously. Because what I couldn't see three years ago, I can see now. God has used Harper's story and our part in it for the good of others. Our struggles have enabled us to help others going through that very same struggle. And for me at least, that makes it worth it. That gives it purpose and meaning in a way that a "why" question never could.
I (we!) am (are!) uniquely able to provide this comfort to other clubfoot parents.
If you're reading this and you are in the clubfoot trenches, so to speak, it may be impossible to see any good that could come out of it. To see any reason why or purpose to the pain. And maybe you won't see the good for a long, long time. I was lucky enough to have a (albeit small!) platform that was this blog at the time, and I was able to write those posts in a cathartic way that has happened to bring comfort to others. You don't need a blog. But you never know who you might be able to comfort in a time of need. You might be a spark of hope for a new parent one year or twenty years down the road, probably in a setting where you least expect it.
We received comfort from the active bloggers at the time who also wrote about clubfoot, who were living it right then. But we also received comfort from the seriously at least 20 random people who told us "oh yeah, my _____ had clubfoot too ___ years ago and she's totally fine!" We had barely heard of it before our diagnosis and then we hear from so many others who have experience with it and hope sparked in our heart that this wasn't as scary or unknown as it seemed.
My point is, you never know who you might help. Your pain and fear and utter sadness for your little baby can turn into a powerful life-giving part of your story.