When You Achieve a Victory You Realize You Never Wanted

Yesterday as I clicked through my multiple open computer windows, I scrolled past my Gmail and the top message caught my eye. “Funding Has Been Approved,” it read.

With one email title, my world shifted.

Funding has been approved. For six arduous months I have advocated, begged, phone-called, letter-written, sat in meetings, cried over, at times yelled at — insurance company people, case workers, school district representatives, and others in an effort to get this one specific type of intensive therapy funded for our child with special needs.

This child absolutely must have this therapy, and we absolutely cannot afford to pay for it.

Suddenly, just like that, we have a victory.

I sat stunned for a moment. I whispered a thank you prayer to God for His gift.

I forwarded the email to my husband. Then I forwarded the email to our fantastic team of therapists and teachers, who have hung in there with us for so long, advocating too. I wrote one word at the top, “SUCCESS!”

You would think my reaction would be pure joy — elation.

So why then, the subtle, aching sadness I have felt since that e-mail opening moment? Why no desire to go out and live it up in celebration?

A Victory I Realize I Never Wanted

Certainly I am thankful that we received funding and can now move forward. We pray this will help our child.

But now, with the distraction of battle calmed, I’m faced with a reality that was dulled with the busy work of phone calls, meetings, and endless paper work.

I achieved a victory I realize I never wanted.

The truths of our situation hit me once again, full force.

Grief comes in waves, and this is another one to ride. I don’t want these diagnosis or these problems. This funding means another in a very long line of treatments. There are no miracle cures here.

The victory seems hollow when it is not an ending, but instead the beginning of an endless stream of appointments, people in and out of our home, and a whole heck of a lot of not-fun work.

I’m thankful. Yet this win is a reminder of our reality.

I didn’t want to have to need this victory in the first place.

We’ve Been Here Before.

The day we went to court for the Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) for the birth parents of one of our children, I felt like this. TPR means a child will then be available for adoption, so it’s the everything ruling when you are in the ups and downs of a foster care situation and hoping to adopt a child.

I remember that day so clearly, because earlier that morning the judge had granted TPR in our son’s case. My mom was in town and took us to Red Lobster to celebrate. As we sat at the table eating, I remember thinking, “I should be so happy right now.” I was relieved — like I could take a deep breath for the first time in a couple years, because to the core of my being I believed my son would be in grave danger if he was returned to his birth family.

But I couldn’t celebrate. I kept thinking about his birth mom, and how this was her worst day. How could my best day be her worst day?

All while my son sat munching on cereal puffs, mostly tossing them on the floor to be crushed under the waitresses’ feet, totally unaware of the grown-up decisions made for his life on this day.

When You Achieve A Victory You Realize You Never Wanted

Have you achieved a victory you realize you never wanted?

  • A cancer treatment is approved, and that’s a victory. Yet your loved one still has cancer.
  • Like me, you receive approval for treatment for your child with special needs, but your child’s issues are still serious and the treatment isn’t a fix.
  • You earn a promotion, and the pressures of the job are too much stress.
  • You find out the diagnosis isn’t as bad as you originally thought, but it’s still serious.
  • There is a solution to your situation, but you will face life-long consequences.
  • Perhaps the greatest of all, a loved one claims eternal victory in heaven with Jesus after a long illness. You know this is the best situation for them, yet you still want them here with you. Not sick — healthy and whole again.

How to Move Forward

How do you move forward when you have these conflicting emotions? Here is what has helped me cope:

  1. Accept opposite feelings. You can feel opposite emotions at the same time. God created us as complex individuals. You can be happy AND sad, thankful AND annoyed, at peace AND anxious. Don’t try to fix it, just accept and allow it to be. I feel relieved and overwhelmed about my child’s new treatment program. I feel grateful for the treatment funding and –to be honest — bitter that we have to deal with it at all. For now, I accept those feelings.
  2. Get rid of the “shoulds”. Anytime you hear yourself saying or thinking “I should be…” check in with yourself. Like, “I should be grateful that at least he didn’t suffer.” or “I shouldn’t complain, at least we have this.” That’s guilt stuff, and rarely helpful.
  3. Praise God. We often talk about trusting God’s plan for our lives. Okay, but how do we do that? My friend Chris Drews (who wrote this great series: Trusting God in the Storms of Life) shared with me the concept of “praising God in the storm.” In the Old Testament, God’s people didn’t just trust Him, they actually praised Him right in the middle of tough, seemingly impossible situations. (See 2 Chronicles 20:1-30)

Today, I will accept my opposite feelings, let go of the “shoulds” and praise God for who He is.

Have you achieved a victory you realized you never wanted? How did you handle it?

When You Achieve a Victory You Realize You Never Wanted| The Holy Mess