Two months ago, I asked you to take my hand. Something incredible has happened.
My journey has become your journey. And in the process, your pain has become my pain.
I am humbled each time you place the struggles of your life in my hands.
Through your words, it is apparent that going Hands Free to grasp what really matters can open the tender places in our hearts that we often try to ignore. Going Hands Free causes us to take a good hard look at painful truths that often stay buried.
You have told me of these tender places. You have told me of these painful truths…
You told me you wished you had reached out before he took his own life.
You told me the cancer has spread.
You told me your spouse is leaving you and your children.
You told me your recent divorce means you only have your child part time.
You told me that being your parent's caregiver is sometimes more than you can bear.
You told me your worries rob you of sleep.
You told me your childhood was painful.
You told me you finally allowed yourself to grieve the loss of your parents.
You told me you don’t want to be held captive by perfection any longer.
You told me you want to be a better mom.
You told me you want to be a better dad.
You told me you cannot breathe through the suffocation that is your life.
And after you revealed your scars, you asked me to pray for you.
And I don’t take that request lightly.
For I have a story. And I feel compelled to share it with you, as you have shared your pain with me. Let it bring you hope. Let it ease your pain. Let it be the answer that brought you here today.
Here is my story…
*Permission granted to use authentic names
A few years ago, my friend’s daughter, a kind-hearted three-year-old nicknamed “Doodle,” became very ill. Over a period of several months, *Mary and Mike took her to every doctor imaginable. When the tests and examinations came back “normal,” the doctors said that there was nothing wrong with her. Mike and Mary were not satisfied with this; they knew something was terribly wrong.
I stopped by Mary’s house to drop something off one afternoon. Doodle’s fever had just shot up, and Mary decided she was going to take Doodle to the emergency room despite the nurse’s suggestion to bring her to the doctor’s office.
I will never forget Mary’s resolve in that moment. In the most terrifying moment of her life, she was brave, strong, focused and determined.
Without a single quiver in her voice, she declared, “I am taking her to the hospital, and I am not leaving until they figure out what is wrong with my child.”
Although she spoke the words to me, it was more of a declaration. It was if she drew a line in the sand; the fight begins here. And Doodle would not be a casualty of this unknown enemy attacking her.
There was nothing that would stop this mother from making her baby well again.
As Mary ran back into the house to gather her lifeless daughter into her arms, she suddenly stopped. She shouted one last thing to me.
With conviction she yelled loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear: “Tell people to pray.”
This request was not an after thought. It was a mother’s plea. When stripped of her ability to protect, there is only one answer.
I immediately drove to my church and informed my pastor and anyone else who happened to be there. Then I went home and bombarded the “world” with an email message about a special little girl named Doodle whose life-threatening illness had become a medical mystery. What happened after I hit “send” was amazing.
Doodle took a hold of people’s hearts, and a miracle unfolded right before our eyes.
I was flooded with responses. From everything to “How can we help?” to “Have they tried this?” I was offered doctor names and meals. Some even asked if I would include a picture of this precious girl that they could not get out of their minds.
Over a five-day time span, I sent updates. Each day, I would receive email messages from strangers all over the country asking if I would add them to the distribution list.
They did not know this girl, but they felt like they did. In a way, it was their own child, their own niece or nephew, their own grandchild whose usual rosy pink cheeks were now the color of a gray sheet. It was their child who trembled with wide eyes whenever the door to her hospital room opened for fear of yet another blood draw or catheterization. It was their child who fought for her life as doctor after doctor scratched his head in bewilderment.
And one day when Mary called me from the hospital, I told her of the outpouring of love and prayer that was coming to her child, but she already knew.
Through her tears, she spoke with certainty, “Rachel, we know. We know. I can’t explain it, but we can feel the power and the comfort of the prayers being said for us.”
On day five of her stay, while performing a chest scan on Doodle, a technician made a mistake. She accidently revealed a portion of Doodle’s kidney, which immediately lead to the diagnosis and successful treatment of a kidney infection.
To those who had come to love this girl, to those who had come to hope for this precious child, to those who had closed their eyes and whispered her name too many times to count, what had happened during the chest scan was no mistake. What had happened was a God-given miracle.
I have the privilege of picking up this healthy, extraordinary child from school each day. It is almost like a dream in slow motion as she runs to my car and the sunlight bounces off her curly dark hair. She is always smiling. Always. This is my daily gift. She is my living, breathing symbol of “hope” in the purest form.
From the moment I started writing this blog, Doodle’s story keeps popping up in my mind. But I wondered, “Why would anyone else want to hear this story?”
It wasn’t until your Hands Free messages starting coming in. It wasn’t until your own life stories of despair and pain caused tears to drip on my computer.
What do I have to give them? What do I have that will ease the pain, help them see there is light; there is hope?
I have the story of Doodle. For it is a testament to the power of reaching out and reaching up.
This is the poem I wrote for Doodle’s on her fourth birthday, shortly after her miraculous recovery. But it could just as easily be yours.Have you ever been held in an embrace so warm That you did not want to let go? Have you ever seen a sunset so beautiful That you did not want to see it set? Have you ever heard a song so soothing That you wished it could play forever? Have you ever studied someone’s face so intently That you see it perfectly when you close your eyes? Have you ever loved someone so fiercely That her name is written on your heart? Have you ever prayed for something so hard That you hear the plea in your sleep? If you have ever loved, If you have ever prayed, If you have ever hoped, So hard That angels could hear your voice,
Then you know the story of Doodle.
Whether you are battling a difficult divorce, a debilitating physical condition, or your own vicious inner critic, know there is hope.
Whether the battle you fight is small or whether it is big. Whether it is a public battle or a private battle. Whether you think you have a chance, or whether you think you have already lost. Know there is hope.
Even in the most dark and desolate hole of despair, there is an answer.
Reach out. Reach up. Ask for help.
Ask so loudly that the angels can hear your voice.
Miracles happen. They really do.
Draw your line in the sand. Fight. Fight for what you love, even if that means fighting for yourself.
Reach out. Reach up. And don’t let go.
I have only one challenge for you today. Click the “share” button below. Someone in your life needs this message. Someone you know is waiting for this message. And if this is your message…my dear friend, if this is your message, you know what to do. Reach out. Reach up. A hand is waiting to hold you.