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The Blessing of Adversity

I deal with soldiers who have flashbacks. Very few, if any, come back from war without some apprehension that a random vent may trigger. Sometimes it just has to be a certain setting, and they are transported back to a powerful and painful memory. The management of those memories is a life-long task, and one that will continue to form who they are.

Yesterday we took Aidan to have a simple X-Ray for some gastrointestinal issues he is having. He is quite alright right now, no worries, except for that he has AMAZING gas. It really is something to marvel at.But I underestimated the power of memory as I walked him back through the door and onto the X-Ray table. Even now as I type this and revisit that moment in my mind, I am flooded with emotion. Such a randomly simple procedure, and yet such a powerful effect.

The most vivid memories of my childhood are centered on my hip. It's more than a fairly familiar subject for most that know me. But yesterday, as I lifted him up and laid him on the table, while he was excited about "getting a picture of his bones", I all but held it together as I flashbacked to laying there myself, staring up into that square light with the crosshairs. I remembered the feel of the lead vest that they laid upon me, and the beep of the machine. I could tell you exactly how they walked me back to the X-Ray room from the exam room. I remembered hearing and feeling the film plate slide into the table beneath me, and watching them correctly size up the lens with the knobs on the side.

And yesterday, it was me on that table all over again. Clueless about what was really going on in me, and wondering why I had to be different than other kids. And praying for Aidan and Jack, hoping that they would never have to go through any of that, for any reason. It could have been an altar, instead of an X-Ray table, for as much as I was laying their future in the hands of God. And even as we walked out of the hospital, as I held Aidan (who was completely oblivious to anything, but just having fun), we walked into Healer Chapel and I led him in thanking God for a healthy body as we stood at the altar.

And I thanked God for every adversity He blessed me with.

I wonder what it would be like to not have to move my heel lift from one shoe to the next, every time I put shoes on, but I don't wish it away. There's something that happens in adversity that creates, refines and reveals character. It is hard to explain to alot of the young privates in my squadron, but you can see it in the eyes of the senior NCOs who have been tested. The thousand-yard stare that some veterans have is more like their keen awareness of the Big Picture, than it is of "checking out." And while I don't want Aidan and Jack to face adversity, I will gladly walk them through, as I was walked through it by my parents, family and friends.

The one thing that can make or break you in adversity is the presence of someone in there with you, in the midst of the difficulty, showing they believe in you. Enduring it with you. There comes a time when we are all without strength, when hope is a melting snowflake in our hearts and the weight of the burden increases with each step. And the person who has overcome adversity before will smile, and daringly take another step, and with exhiliration feel the last measure of strength slip from their body as they straighten up and defiantly glare adversity in the eyes. "For He who is in me, is greater than he who is in the world..and when I am weak, then He is Strong [and I drive on].

So when I put Aidan on my shoulders, and walked him out of the hospital yesterday, my heart defiantly looked Adversity in the eyes, and reminded him, "you can't tell me who I am."