A Reflection in Time
I connected with James on Google+ and recently we had a conversation on gathering strength on life’s storms which he shared that he lost his daughter to cancer back in 2001. He then shared a piece that he wrote about this tough experience. I was so touched by his powerful story that I asked him if I could feature what he wrote on Heartstone. Here is the first part of that story.
“A Reflection in Time”
By James Moffit
The journey started June 3rd the year 2000. What seemed to be a normal day in the life of a ten yr old girl turned into an event that would alter the course of time for both Jessica and her family. This is a story that will be a reflection in time. The purpose of this reflection will be to help me to piece together some of the events as well as to help me to be responsible in passing along whatever it is that I am to be passing along as I walk down this path.
I am not sure why our family history has been changed. I am not sure that I am certain of when the journey will end. I am not sure of whether or not Jessica will be totally healed or whether she will go on to be with the Lord God in Heaven. There are a lot of uncertainties. One thing that I am certain of is that God is in control. I am certain that God is the author and finisher of both our lives and our faith. I am certain that God already knows what the outcome of our journey will be. I am certain that we are a family unit and that we have determined to stick together no matter what the outcome.
On June 3rd our lives slammed head first into the concrete wall of change. This change was inevitable in the face of Jessica being diagnosed with cancer. The first thing that this diagnosis did is it caused a crack at the very foundation of our family security. Families are held together by a lot of different things. One of the things that cements our families together is the knowledge that we are all part of a unique family unit and that we have a specific purpose. We know that we are loved and that we are needed. We grow to respect one another and to expect each other to be there through both good times and bad. One of the catalysts that causes families to be fragmented and ultimately destroyed is uncertainty and radical changes. In May of 2000 our family consisted of three normally active youth who were participating in normal family activities both in and outside of the home. We were caught totally off guard. We had no clue as to what was just around the corner.
Before I go forward with these reflections you must know that this is being written from the perception of a father. I am a father of 4 children and at the age of 39 I am taking a crash course every day with my children in knowing how to be the best father that I can possibly be. I am a father that is no stranger to pain or to radical life changes. I must also state for the record that the radical life changes which has happened to my Jessica and my family has put a new meaning on the terminology “conflict management”. It is not important at this writing that I define each conflict in detail. Bad things happen to both good and bad people. In and of itself is not the most important thing to remember. What is important are the following two things. How do we react and what do we learn.
If you would have told me in January of 2000 that our lives would have been radically changed in this way I would have looked to you and laughed. After all, cancer happens to other families. I think that in the light of tragedy that others are facing we find solace and comfort in knowing that it has not happened to us individually or our families. How many times do we watch television or read the daily newspaper and see tragedy all around us. How we relate to these activities in the lives of other people is usually a normal human reaction. I also think that if we were to look past the surface of these other tragedies going on around us that we not only would be better prepared to face it in our lives but we would also be better prepared to help bring a solution to some of those issues in other
It was once said “ A man is not an island”. I think that as a father that I can also say that a “family unit is not an island” either. We have been placed individually in a community of people. That first community is our families. The other secondary communities are the social structures outside of our immediate family. These could include our work place, colleges, sports clubs, health clubs, professional associations and church. As I said earlier there are two important things to be said about how we affect others. How we react to what happens and what we learn from life experiences.
Most of us have what it takes to react and learn when the rubber meets the road. I can look back at my life and see the lessons I had to learn from the “other” radical life changes. I can look back at what I know from Katy’s life and her “other” radical life changes and see where she has been prepared to know how to react. I have learned over the last 20 + years that how we react is largely influenced by our worldview. I am very thankful that our family worldview enables us to react to our circumstances in a way that is faithful and believing that we are not in control. God is in control. We may not have the “why” answers for you
but we know HOW we are to react.
One of the best mechanisms for learning how to react correctly to a radical life change is to be sure to NOT react emotionally. You should not base your reactions to change based on feelings. Trust me when I say that basing your reactions on feelings will lead you straight down the road to mental insanity. I am learning that the best reaction is no reaction at all. Before we react we must put ourselves in a place where we can learn. A very popular slogan says “Know before you go”. If we teach ourselves to be quiet within ourselves then we will be able to hear what we need to learn BEFORE we react to change. How many times have we reacted to change because of a gut instinct and wound up making mistakes that had life long consequences? As a family unit we choose to trust in God to be in control. As a family unit we choose to pray individually and corporately for God to give us the ability to be quiet within when outward circumstances dictate otherwise.
As we take this journey we have good days and we have bad days. We know that they will be here and we know that we have to choose to react correctly to each day accordingly and to learn those things that need to be learned. There are days that we react emotionally and we probably miss out on some lessons that need to be learned. Sometimes the emotions are so raw and prevalent that there is nothing to do other than yell at God or at each other. I am thankful that because our faith is firmly planted on the solid rock of our faith in Christ that those days are few and far between.
I firmly believe that our life journey individually and corporately as family units contains days full of repetitive daily activities that we consider normal. I also believe that through the course of normal repetitive activity that there are portions of time in which we have opportunities to learn or to experience an epiphany. If you are not careful enough to be quiet within yourself and attentive to those things going on around you it is easy to miss these special events. One such learning experience for me is to watch our Jessica going through this radical change with courage that is astounding. Jessica was born almost 3 months premature back in 1990 and had several life threatening problems. I am firmly convinced that Jessica not only had a lot of people praying for her but I also believe that this young lady has a quiet courage that we can learn from. A lady at church recently told me that Jessica had helped to motivate her to go through some lengthy medical exams without putting up too much of a fuss. This lady told me that she felt that Jessica’s courage and faith at her age helped her to have faith and courage as she was going through her experience.
In the last ten years of Jessica’s life we have experienced a LOT of people who have faithfully prayed for Jessica and her healing. We have seen people that have never met Jessica in person who have supported her and us as a family unit through prayer, financial support and encouragement. We have experienced the love of God through his faithful people both on and off the Internet as they have reached out to us as a family. Just recently we were able to spend some quality time together in Orlando Florida through the generous financial support of Make a Wish Foundation and Give Kids the World Village in Kissimmee Florida. It was very humbling to experience this first hand. It was very much an epiphany as we watched other families just like ours with a special needs child going through much of the same things that we are.
One of the things that I have learned is that the why of what we are going through is much bigger than who we are. I have also learned that the reason is so big that the outcome takes a back seat to the over all importance of what is happening. I want to remain faithful both to God and my family with regards to how I react to the daily activities surrounding Jessica as well as be attentive enough to learn the lessons that need to be learned.
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