As my mom and I exited South Suburban Hospital, my dad’s employer at the time, I turned to her and said, “I think I’m meant to be a dad. I don’t know why I thought of it, but I think I’m meant to be a dad.”
Maybe this statement was something I just thought would please my mom, but, to this day, I believe it was a genuine reflection of what I really desired. I wanted to be the coach for my kids’ sports teams, I wanted to help them with homework, and I wanted to be there for them, in whatever way they would need from me. I felt I was born to be a dad.
Over time, my image of the dad I wanted to be was refined and shaped by my faith, but my desire and eager expectation to be a dad never wavered. After I got married, I wanted kids right away, but we decided it was best to wait to start growing our family. I waited patiently (as much as I’m capable), and on my birthday in 2015, my wife woke me up early to let me know she was pregnant! I was going to be a dad!
The expectation was happening. But, then something unexpected happened.
In June of 2015, I went into life-threatening heart failure. I was put into a medically-induced coma, daily flat-lined, had countless surgeries, and all this happened while my best friend and wife was pregnant with our daughter. My wife watched me dying and consistently had nurses and doctors give her little hope of her husband living a life with her and our unborn daughter.
After I woke up from the coma I was unable to breathe on my own, move independently, eat independently, talk, and walk. I was disabled. After being released from a rehab facility, we went home and my daughter was born 12 days later.
The expectation happened, but I didn’t expect to be a disabled dad. But, I am.
I assumed God’s plan would look like the picture above – holding my daughter’s hand while strolling towards a beautiful horizon. I was wrong. God’s plan does not look like this and that’s okay. God’s plans are not the same as our plans (Isaiah 55:8-9), and we learn throughout life that His plans are for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28). He does things we wouldn’t choose but those things become our greatest evidence of Him using our trials for His highest desire, His own glory.
In my darkest days since becoming disabled, I have felt alone and abandoned. I don’t just mean that I feel this way about people, but I have felt God has left me alone in the midst of my struggle with being disabled. I still struggle, but this verse reassures me of God’s love, His never-changing hold onto me, and His power to fight off the world and its pain:
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God knew what would best for me and He made me something that would give Him more glory, a disabled dad.
Maybe I won’t see all the good that will come out of my disability, but just knowing that He gets more glory in me right now, makes it worth it.
I was right. I was born to be a dad. But, I was wrong too. I was born to be a disabled dad.
And praise God for that.
God is good and gracious.