There is nothing that makes a 40 year old woman (not mentioning any names) feel more ancient than when she is sitting in a classroom of college freshman. They are eager; eager to move around, full of life and full of hormones.
Some of us, on the other hand, are full of grocery lists. Our minds are spinning with car-pool details, school science projects, and soccer tournament dates. As much as I would LOVE the 20-year old body back, I will take a “Rain Check” on the 20-year old mind. That’s a fact.
Driving up to Seattle Pacific University on Monday… for Jacoby’s first day of college brought back a flood of memories. Had it really been 22 years since I walked on SPU campus for the first time? A cheerleader from Idaho that found great importance in the height of her hair. (80’s ROCKED)
I wish I could honestly say my first concern was grades, but what’s the point in lying. I was concerned about where all the cute boys were residing. Exactly WHICH dorms would they be living in?
Jacoby, on the other hand, was worried about parking. Yes, that’s what I said… parking. Would there be enough parking located near her first class of the day? (I know… it’s wrong and really sad.)
We DID find a spot and we were off. Here we were… walking to “Intro to Biblical Studies” together, Jacoby and her 40 year old mother. Once again, I was reminded of the “oddness” of our situation. What collage freshman do you know that wants to spend every minute on campus with their mom?
On a more serious note, my prayers changed from,
“Lord, promise me you will bless her for this”… to “Lord, please let some of these kids reach out and introduce themselves.”
Some of the students were intimidated by the wheelchair (understandably so) and some weren’t. There is no condemnation here. Hands down, I would have been one of the students who would have been afraid to reach out to anyone in a wheelchair. Not because I didn’t care, but just because it’s different and you don’t know WHAT to say. (FYI…A smile and “hello” works great!)
Words cannot even begin to express how thankful I was to the kids who smiled and made an effort to at least acknowledge her existence.
We made a great team that day, Jacoby and I. We were all about where the good snack machines were located and which handicap features on campus were ingenious inventions. (The new handicap bathroom stalls are STELLAR at SPU, might I add.)
In all honesty, there are two intersecting thoughts to that day. One side reflects the harsh reality that a 19 year old child should not have handicap parking as their top concern the first day of school. Or, that their disability will prevent them from making friends simply because they are different.
However, there is another side of “hope” to this situation. (Thank God!)
Our hearts and our minds are aware and open now. My precious fiends, there is so much value in this ability. The ability to empathize. Since Jacoby’s accident that cold, fall evening, I notice people my ignorance would never have allowed me to notice before. Any disability, medical disease, or injury BREAKS my heart, yet enlarges my heart at the same time. How I esteem all of you who face these challenges!
NO PAIN… NO GAIN!
Somehow, even though she faces an uphill climb, I already know Jacoby will thrive at Seattle Pacific University. How do I know this? Because like so many other strong individuals I have been privileged to know, they use pain to push themselves… The uncomfortable, the unknown and the lonely are expected and strangely welcomed. She’ll push through until there is breakthrough; this I know for sure. It’s not going to be easy OR easy to watch, but I know I have to step back and let her make it her own. For it’s in the struggle that we grow strong.
Here’s where I need your help. I don’t know about you, but when I read or watch something encouraging, it inspires me to do the same. Would you be willing to comment and share a “strength builder” you are walking through right now, or have walked through? Even a favorite quote or verse that encourages or encouraged you.
Who knows how many of us are “hanging on for dear life” and could gain hope and strength from your struggle… your story.
Can’t wait to hear from you…