[Taken from A Different Dream for My Child, © 2009 by Jolene Philo. Used by permission of Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49501. All rights reserved.]
By nature I'm a planner, an administrator, and a long-range thinker. Planning ahead was as natural to me as breathing, and my abilities served me well as a teacher. They made my life at work and at home easier, and I derived great satisfaction from the efficiency and predictability planning brought to my life.
But those same abilities put me on a collision course with the reality of life as a mother of a totally unpredictable, chronically ill kid. My administrative skills actually hindered my ability to rest in the day or take pleasure in the unexpectedness of now. They certainly didn't teach me to trust God to lead and provide for the tomorrow I couldn't see. So instead of enjoying my son on his good days, I constantly wondered whether my Plan A would be ruined by a sudden illness, and then fussed and fretted over a possible Plan B.
To this day, I'm a better planner than a rester. But over the years I have learned something I wish I'd known when my son was ill, when every single day held an unexpected adventure. As I matured, I learned to make a plan, but then let it go when God's agenda for the day was different from mine.
Peggy implemented the same strategy over twenty years ago. She learned to stick with the biblical principle of not worrying about tomorrow since today has enough trouble of its own. "The pressure of the future and the things that have to be done in two hours or by the end of the week is almost too much with someone like Lacey in your house," Peggy says. Therefore, she trained herself to isolate the hour she was in, the hour when she was holding her daughter or taking her for a walk. She learned to ask herself, "Is there anything so bad in that hour that you can't deal with it?" She discovered there never was. "The more and more you stay in the day, the more and more you realize God works it all out anyway, and you get better at staying in the day.
Peggy explains why staying in the day has been so important. When Lacey was a baby and she worried about what her daughter would be like at age three, anxiety kept her from enjoying Lacey as a baby. If, when Lacey was five, she thought, "What am I going to do if she gets too heavy for me to take care of her?" then those thoughts robbed her of Lacey at five. And if when Lacey was ten, Peggy couldn't enjoy her because she worried about how to deal with her periods when puberty arrived, worry just kept robbing her. "In my case," Peggy says, "it would have robbed me of literally twenty-four years, a quarter of my life, thinking, What's next?"
She adds a caution. "It's not that you're in denial, and it's not that you're not planning. I just wouldn't put that thought in charge of your day. That's sort of true even for normal families. If you're always worried about what it's going to be like to have the empty nest, are you enjoying your sixteen-year-old shopping for a prom dress today?"
Peggy's advice is powerful for any parent, but especially for you. With a sick kid in the house, you have to stay in the moment and then strike a healthy balance between that mindset and the need to plan for the future. Otherwise, caring for your child will be overwhelming; the pressure will be too great.
When worry attacks you, practice Peggy's strategy. Isolate the hour you're in, this hour when you are holding your baby or rocking your toddler or rubbing your pre-teen's back and ask yourself, "Is there anything in this hour I can't deal with?" The more you ask the question, the more often you'll receive the answer Peggy has over the last twenty-four years.
Really, there never is.