Last month I took the family on a mini day-trip to see Looking Glass Falls, which is in Western North Carolina. It was a perfect stop because it’s easy to find and it’s literally located right next to the road inside Pisgah National Forest. You can park and see it right there, walk down some stairs to a lower viewing area, and even go in the water below if you want. My wife and I last went there nearly 5 years ago and it was great fun so we wanted the kids to see it.
We didn’t tell them where we were going, just that we were going to do something fun and we had to drive a little bit to get there. And you know how it is with kids sometimes: it better be FUN, or you won’t hear the end of it. As you enter the forest you follow this winding road: it was well into the afternoon and I was just trying to beat the sunset. We finally arrived and there was pretty much no one there, which was awesome! So we parked, got out and told the kiddos we were there to see a waterfall. As we got closer and you could hear the rushing water, the kids got excited.
When they saw this waterfall – no lie – they were in awe. The twins both took in a breath and their eyes were wide. Score one for mom and dad! My wife bravely waded down into the water (which was FREEZING), while I waited at the lower viewing area with the kids, just taking it all in and feeling the spray of the water on our faces. There were smiles all around…it was glorious.
But you know, it got me thinking. As I looked up at this rush of water pounding the rocks below, it made me think a little bit about the lives we lead as Heart Parents. Sometimes – and you all know this – we feel like we’re standing beneath a waterfall…our own personal deluge. The definition of deluge, according to thefreedictionary.com, is “something that overwhelms as if by a great flood.” Yeah, we know exactly what that’s like. The deluge comes when you’re the most tired, the most vulnerable, and the most emotionally spent. In the deluge you feel like empathy is gone and you can’t find your way out. For me, it’s those days where I’m 3 cups of coffee in and still can’t remember what day it is…it’s those nights where I silently beg God for my son to eat so we can get rid of his g-tube. And it’s the times where I’m just plain frustrated and flustered and I don’t even know why. You’ve had those days, I’m sure. I also believe those feelings are completely normal.
But as I also looked up at the waterfall, I looked beyond the sheer force of the deluge…and saw that a waterfall is majestic, awe-inspiring, and powerful. Yes, there are times where we’re right under the deluge…but there’s also times where we can look on in wonder. I don’t know about you, but for me I often miss the opportunity to reflect during those times. While having a child with a serious medical condition isn’t something anyone would choose, I can also appreciate the personal growth that’s happened to me during this time. I’ve learned more about compassion than I ever thought I knew, and I realized that I can use my experiences and my wacky view of life to help other people throughout the world, just by sitting on my couch and typing. Waterfalls have also been harnessed to create energy…now that’s some power. Likewise I’ve realized that when I’ve needed to, I’ve been able to harness some kind of strength deep inside to get through…sometimes it’s barely enough…but it’s there. And you know you’ve been there too.
So I know there will be times where you’re living under the deluge, and it’s tough. Please know I feel you and you’re not alone in the struggle. Please reach out to me or any other Heart Parent or support group so we can help get you through: we’re in it together. But also realize those moments when you’re standing in the viewing area: you can still feel the spray on your face, you can still hear the roar of the water, but everything is ok. Take some deep breaths in those moments and get some perspective about the waterfall that is your life. While it can overwhelm, it has also created some beautiful things: a love that you never thought you could have, grace that you never thought you could give, and immense strength that’s hiding deep down inside. This is where the real power lies, where we realize that the deluge isn’t a 24/7 thing and that I, you, we will get through this and be better for it every day.