Guest Post: by Anna Dietzen, author of the blog “The Unexpected Journey”
Anna Dietzen is your typical twenty-something wife and mama, trying to navigate her way through cheerios and diapers, all while trying to make the most of everyday. A graduate of Biola University with a degree in Communication Studies, Anna worked the corporate America scene for 5 years before deciding to stay home with her two boys, Parker & Lane. She has taken her love of writing and experience of raising two boys with special needs and documented their journey on her blog The Unexpected Journey. While each day has it’s own challenges and this unexpected path is tough, Anna finds the life lessons in these experiences and tries to give others a glimpse into the reality and beauty of having children with special needs.
It’s such an interesting word. Trust requires vulnerability, abandonment to self, action, reliance, confidence, faith and so many other things.
It really requires us to believe that the other person, or thing has our best interest at heart.
One of my dearest friends and I were talking about this the other day. We were talking about what it really means to trust God. I know that I should trust God and I do believe He has my best interest at heart, but do I really trust Him?
This question has really stuck with me over the past few weeks and I’ve wrestled with what this looks like in my life.
Up until a few years ago, everything in my life had gone pretty well. I’d had my times of struggle, but nothing really too detrimental or life changing. I went to college, met my husband, got married, and started a family. Everything went according to what I had imagined my life to be. It was easy to trust God and believe that he had my best interests at heart, because all of the desires of my heart had come true.
At 7 months, our first born son Parker was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called Joubert Syndrome. Joubert Syndrome is characterized by the underdevelopment of the cerebellum and brain stem and generally causes decreased muscle tone, difficulties with coordination, abnormal eye movements, abnormal breathing pattern and cognitive impairment.
Trying to work through what it means to have your child face all of these unexpected difficulties is almost unimaginable. To trust that God was really looking out for us, and looking out for Parker was really hard to believe at first. But then Parker would look at us and smile and it was as if God was speaking directly to us saying “I love you…it’s going to be okay”.
And that has proven to be true. We face our challenges everyday, and this special needs journey has not been easy, but the love and desperation we have felt for God through this all has helped our hearts heal and recover.
And then we received the second diagnosis.
We got pregnant again in January of 2012 and we were scared. Excited but scared. Every pregnancy has a 25% chance of having Joubert Syndrome and we knew that this baby could also be affected. But we went in fully trusting God with this baby and trusting that He would give us a healthy baby. We had numerous ultrasounds and tests and everything showed that this baby was healthy and his brain was fully formed. We were cautiously optimistic as we knew there was still a small chance they could be wrong, but were hopeful that the doctors were right.
After Lane was born, he seemed to be developing on time until about 5 or 6 months. At that time we noticed he was falling a bit behind and didn’t seem as far along as most kids his age. At 10 months, Lane went in for his MRI and we got the diagnosis that he too had Joubert Syndrome.
I really struggled with this diagnosis. Not because he had Joubert Syndrome, but why God would allow the uncertainty for so long. We trusted Him, and it felt like he completely took that away. We did all the necessary prenatal testing and talked to doctors after he was born and everyone assured us he was fine. But then to find out 10 months later that was all wrong.
Was it worth trusting God when it felt like he didn’t hear us? When it felt like he didn’t care?
It was during a run one day that I realized my mentality about trust was all wrong. I only trusted when things would go my way. I only trusted when it wasn’t risky, wouldn’t be messy, and wouldn’t require me to give up too much control. And I realized that what I was doing wasn’t really trusting at all.
I’ve learned that trust is a process, it’s a relationship, and it’s built over time. It’s built through my quiet times, through my prayers, my relationships with other, and it’s built through truly letting go of control.
Through parenting two beautiful and precious boys with special needs, I have had to trust and rely on God more than ever in my life. I could have never imagined that when I “trusted” Jesus with my life and pregnancy that it would mean special needs, but it has been the greatest gift I could have ever imagined.
And by sharing those fears, those unmet expectations, and growing in my maturity and faith in God, I have come to see that trusting means giving God 100% control and forming my heart to look more like His.
Had things gone the way I wanted, or expected, I would never be the person I am today or have the relationship with God that I do now.
And really, that is all that matters anyways.
Trusting God is more than a word, it’s a way of life and requires my complete surrender…
Every. Single. Day.