When Sam was a year old, I started volunteering at the NICU where he lived for the first 2 months of his life. I wanted to "make peace" with all the feelings I was experiencing over all that we had gone through during his pregnancy, birth, and first few months of life. I didn't think that it had been so traumatizing, but as he neared his birthday I found that I was really struggling with some issues and felt that giving back to the NICU was just the way for me to heal.
Through my volunteering, I have found that my purpose there has evolved. It started off as a place to heal, then a place to help others, a place that I was anticipating seeing my son Luke at, and finally to a place where I can find comfort, understanding, and empathy.
I have made some amazing friends while volunteering. One of my greatest strengths is a mother who is a volunteer herself and started volunteering just a few months before I had Luke. She has quite the story, which I won't share too much of since it is hers and she is the one who should share it (and likes to). But the gist of her story is that she was pregnant with identical twins. Identical, except that one of her babies had a heart and the other didn't. The one brother was keeping the other alive. She had to be monitored closely to make sure that the first baby didn't go into cardiac arrest since his heart was working overtime. When things became too difficult for him they would deliver him early. In which case, her other little boy would die.
My friend has the most amazing attitude. Her strength has helped lift me. She refers to this experience in her life as her "life story."
I often wonder what I would consider my "life story." It seems like all the volunteers up there have these HUGE defining moments. A baby that lived inutero for 11 weeks with no amniotic fluid and had to endure many dangerous surgeries to become the healthy little boy he is today. Another who was born at 23 weeks and deals with severe CP. Then there is the mother who had quadruplets (and is still sane).
I guess sometimes I hate the thought that my whole life can be packaged up into one moment - one moment that makes up my "life story". Maybe that's because I don't feel like I have that one miraculous moment that truly defines me, and therefore my life story seems like pretty weak cheese. Or maybe it's because I don't want to be known for my trials. In fact, I don't think anyone wants to be remembered for their trials. I think everyone wants to be remembered for the way they were victorious in times of trial - just like my NICU friends.
It is not the size of the story that is important. It is the simple fact that it did happen. Our stories are formed, not by what happens to us in life, but by our willingness to let what happens mold and shape and refine us. Our stories are all about letting ourselves become the person we were always meant to be.
And that is what I feel I am doing - working to become that person that God sees inside. I am truly a work in progress and so is my story.
"In this life we will encounter hurts and trials we will not be able to change; we are just going to have to allow them to change us."