Friday, March 11, 2011

Mat Carriers

"One day as Jesus was teaching....Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, 'Friend, your sins are forgiven.' The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, 'Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?' Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, 'Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or 'Get up and walk?' But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins..' He said to the paralyzed man, 'I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.' Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God."  Luke 5:17-25

Oh, this story takes my breath away -- for so many reasons. I love that right here in black and white, Jesus is pointing out that this man's sinful heart was much more a stumbling block than any physical disabilities he had. Amen and amen. My desire is to raise my boys in the heart of this passage -- understanding that through Grace they are made whole in EVERY way that matters. God forgives their sin. And that makes it possible for them to one day have perfect bodies.

But I love this story for another reason. I love that it is a story of friendship. A story of friends who cared so much they were wiling to climb the stairs to the roof of the house, dig through the straw and mud that made the roof in order to make a hole big enough to lower their friend down on his mat.

These friends carried the mat, bearing their friend when he was unable to get himself to Jesus. They carried his mat.

I have been on the journey of special needs parenting for almost 14 years. And though I adore my boys and wouldn't trade mothering them for anything, I have to tell you that I have needed some mat-carriers along the way. Friends that would come alongside me and carry me to the feet of Jesus so that he could heal -- not my boys' physical disabilities -- but my Mommy heart full of ache for my sweet boys.

And the beauty of mat-carriers: they love without judging, they love with compassion but NOT pity, they love me while LOVING my children, and they love through teaching their children to do the same.

We have had the opportunity to visit with some of my mat carriers this week.

Wade and Milfy were best friends in high school; wife Jenae and I college roomies. When she invited us over  they had to build a ramp to get Benjamin inside...visiting with them IN THEIR BEAUTIFUL home was an absolute blessing!
We don't get invited to people's homes very often. Wade and I discuss it...we know people are not being malicious. They just are overwhelmed by either the size of our family or the challenges involved with getting us in and around their homes. But my friend Jenae was undaunted by that. Knowing we were here for a once-in-a-long-while visit, she had Milfy build Benjamin a ramp. We may not be able to visit again for years. They didn't care about that. They wanted us to visit and made it possible. Oh, it spoke volumes to my heart.

My sweet jr. high bestie -- Robyn and I have tried to get together every time I've been home over the years. As a result, our kids have the best time together!
My friend, Robyn, goes out of her way to visit with us every time we are in Mississippi. She works, goes to school, is raising amazing kids and yet she made time to hang out with us and let our kids be their adorable, goofy selves together! Our children act like they see each other every day -- and the fun they had Monday night made it hard for Robyn and I to visit. We were to busy marveling!

My Claire and Robyn's Bess giggling together!

My Cate sitting in Robyn's Mac's lap...and goofing around with my boys. Priceless!
My Carol. We've been best friends since our camp days at Garaywa. We've held each other as each loss her Dad to cancer; through our husbands' medical school roads; through difficult pregnancies, etc. She is my chief mat-carrier.

Once upon a time, God introduced me to this amazing woman. I almost blew it. We were both 17 years old and attending MS Governor's School. And we did not particularly care for each other. Her quietness made me think she was a snob; my ahem, UN-quietness made her think I was the same -- talking to everybody but her!

But God had other plans and so the summer after our freshman year in college, He threw us together again. This time at a Christian camp. We stayed up the entire first night of orientation talking -- working our way through and past the yuck that had been our first encounter. (And laughing pretty fiercely at our misconceptions!)

We've been best friends ever since. Both married to men who chose med school AFTER our marriages; both homeschooling moms; both Moms to little girls born well after we thought our families complete....on and the list goes on. God KNEW we would need each other in the decades following Governor's School. I am so thankful he didn't give up!

Rhet. Dear friends!
Our girls -- oh they love to sing camp songs together!
Rylee and Cate -- I love these two together!!
Words are simply not adequate to describe the gift these friendships -- and others -- bring to us through their willingness to carry us in difficult days and celebrate with us during joyful days and LOVE us no matter what.

And getting to see our mat carriers, hug them and thank them in person has been a bigger blessing that I can describe. Deep sigh.