If anyone could blame God, it would be my son. He was born by C-section with no cry. Just silence and panicked doctors. He had been born with right arterial thrombosis, a series of blood clots in his arm, and had a stroke because of the trauma. “A lightning striking event,” they called it. They wanted to amputate his arm and told me he was most likely brain damaged from the stroke. He spent 52 days in the NICU and endured countless procedures and surgeries and could only live through this with the help of morphine.

The doctors managed to save his arm but with a heavy pricehe would be in a constant battle with scar tissue and stiffness. Growing up with more and more surgeries, casts, and hospitals. Every year of his life there is a picture of him smiling with a different color cast. Usually, the surgeries were two parts, one where they released the scar tissue and tendons and then another to skin graft.

His arm is not pretty to look at with its scarswar wounds from his over 40 surgeries and counting. 

One of his surgeries, his second bone lengthening, went horribly wrong and kept him out of school for three months in sixth grade. He was depressed, in a lot of pain, and upon returning to school felt like an outsider. He cannot make a fist, so climbing is hard, sports are even harder. He gets ugly looks, and comments, occasionally. He mostly ignores it. He is patient with questions about his arm, even the staring. He just keeps it moving and wants to have fun.

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All of this, and my son is the most loving, kind, and God-loving kid I’ve ever met.

Sometimes I am amazed at his level of faith and understanding. His patience and positivity about all he has to endure far exceeds anything I could provide. We have told him he’s a miracle, and he is, but he knew that already. He feels God’s love.

One day after church, he told me that in his Sunday school teen group they talked about blaming God. This stopped me in my tracks. I asked him if he mentioned his arm. He looked at me kind of quizzically and then said, “My arm is not a good example of that.” I accepted his answer but was a little confused. Then he continued, “My arm is how I connect with God and how He connects with me.” Tears shot out of my eyes.

This arm, this source of pain and constant work in his life, was his connection to God.

After I composed myself, I told him most adults never achieve the level of connection he feels to God. That his spirituality and faith are on an adult level. He told me, “I could never blame God, He’s my friend.”

God is his friend.

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When you’re a little kid, it’s easy to feel like God is your friend, but when you are 13 years old, navigating change in your body, emotions, school, and friends, it’s harder. And when on top of all that you have an outward differencesomething that impedes you on many levels and brings you pain and constant unwanted attentionand you can still feel the support and love of God? That.

That is what we all want in our lives.

I’m no psychic, but I can’t help but believe God has big plans for my son. Which of course means He has big plans for me. I’m not going to tell you that I have never blamed God for what has happened to my son. I have. I have blamed God and cried many tears for all he has to go through. Through my son, however, I have a daily reminder of what grace, humility, and love look like. 

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Grace is when you forgive the doctor who made a mistake during your surgery. Humility is when you connect with a man with three fingers and say, “Hey! We’re the same.” (My son smiled ear to ear when he said this to the man). Love is when God chooses you to be a symbol of light to the whole world.

So it turns out God is my friend, too. He gave me the best son I could have ever hoped for and brought my faith to a level I never knew existed.

Liz Svatek

Liz Svatek is the founder of The Warrior Moms, an online community of moms supporting, learning, and laughing together. She has written for Medium, Thrive Global, Her View From Home and other publications. Her podcast Conversations With Warrior Women, debuts in April of 2020. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two amazing kids, Landon and Coco, her two dogs and 19-year-old cat!