At this moment I sit next to my four-year-old son as he sleeps in his hospital bed. He is an incredible boy. A boy of strength, love, and character. He has endured eleven surgeries in the short 4 years of his life. Sitting with him through these painful, fear-invoking, and difficult trials in his life has had a tremendous impact on me. He didn’t ask for this. He doesn’t deserve it. But, he does ask for and deserve my hand as he reaches for it so I will hold him through his pain and never let go.
It also brings to memory the feelings I had when my wife and I adopted our older son. A boy of nearly 2-years at the time, he had never had a family. I remember how he reached his arms up hoping that I would pick him up. This I did, and he didn’t want me to ever let go.
Holding these boys through these trials is a sobering experience for a father. One that has changed me. It has changed the way I see family relationships. It has changed the way I see couple relationships. While I have claimed to be an advocate for marriage and family, nothing has impacted this advocacy more than, with my wife, holding our sons through their trials. It helps me remember that the daily work of trying to help couples and families through significant trials is worth it, because they need each other.
As families, we need to hold on; we need to hold on tight. When the trials come, and they will, I want to shout from the rooftops: “Don’t give up on your family! Don’t give up on your marriage! You need each other!”. I want to shout this because when I look into my wife’s eyes as she cries for her little boys and when I look into my son’s eyes as he feels pain and fear, I am reminded they are worth fighting for.
When marriage and family life get tough, don’t give up the fight. There are of course times and situations where a break in the family is appropriate or necessary. However, too often I see people give up on their spouse and family when life gets tough. That is the time you need each other more than ever. Don’t give up. Reach for each other, and don’t let go.