The doctor came to check on Grant as he made his post-op rounds. “Wiggle your fingers. Wiggle your toes. Move this. Move that.” The doctor was carefully checking his feeling and movements. He was 2 days out from his first spinal surgery and 1 day out from his 2nd. The doctor looked at us and asked if we had any questions. I began to ask a list of questions, but for Grant there was only one question that was pressing on his mind. “Doctor, will I be able to play football?” Football. The love of his life. Grant is the 3rd generation Resler man with aspirations to play beyond high school. His dad a lineman for the Sooners and Pop also played at the college level. A joy to watch him on the field as we all could see the natural talent and abilities that he carried. Three generations of men, bonding around the sport they all love deeply. Watching game film. Discussing plays. A deep connection being forged through their shared passion.
“Doctor, will I be able to play football?” “No! No contact sports. Son, you have a severe spinal injury and you are lucky to be alive, 1 mm away from being a quadriplegic. You have a life and future.” The words seemed to fade into the background as the tangible layers of grief filled the room. I’m not sure that any of us actually heard the rest of what the doctor said in that moment. Deep sobs came from my son’s bed. Jeff and I on each side of him, just sat with him and wept. In an instant, I watched my son’s heart break. His dreams were crushed in an instant. We could not in that moment grasp the reality of the miracle we were experiencing. The grief was so real. It truly is possible to hold deep gratefulness and grief at the same time. Experiencing the miracle of Grant’s life was also held simultaneously with grieving some real dreams. Athletics will look different for Grant. For a boy that has only been drawn to contact sports (because no contact sports are just not exciting enough for him :), this creates a new paradigm. New definitions. New dreams.
In the weeks since we left the hospital, I have watched the miracle unfold. His football coach (a believer), has spent hours at our house pouring into Grant. I have heard deep conversations, processing and prayers. I have heard words of truth speaking into identity, sowing seeds into the fertile soil of Grant’s heart. These truths that most don’t wrestle with quite this young, but we all wrestle with. When what you may have sought your identity in is stripped away, where does that leave you? I am watching my son find his true identity in Christ. I am watching him embrace deep purpose and meaning through this tragedy. He even said to me a few weeks ago as he prepared to share his story at FCA, “Mom, I really don’t even see it as a tragedy. I see it as new opportunities. God’s ways are different from my ways. He has different plans for me.” I watched him talk with confidence and hopeful anticipation of the plans God has for him. Though he doesn’t see or know, he trusts. I’m watching it unfold in him as he wrestles out his story.
Preparing to share his testimony at FCA, he went in his room. He put on his head phones and asked God to speak to him about what He would have him share with his peers. Over and over he heard God speak, “I am the God of miracles.” I watched him embrace the miracle. The miracle of 1mm. The miracle of being alive. “Mom, God is a God of miracles! I am a miracle! God has a purpose for my life. I thought my main purpose was to play football, but it really is so much more than that!” These truths that take many a lifetime to grasp, he is beginning to grab a hold of at 15 years old. What a true gift. In the grief, the loss, the letting go, new life is opening up before him. A joy to watch him step into the purpose and plans God has for him. We are grateful.