We’re in the grocery store.
“Mommy, are those eggs gluten free?”
“Um. Well, yes the eggs are gluten free. But you still can’t have them because they’re eggs.”
“Mommy, are those cookies dairy free?”
“Um. Well, yes the cookies are dairy free but they have nuts and wheat in them so you can’t have them.”
“Mommy, will I still be allergic when I turn four?”
It always comes down to this question.
And for a year I’ve been able to say, “I don’t know, honey. We’ll see.”
But the big day is coming this weekend, the day when all her dreams comes true. She’ll get to do all of the things she couldn’t do when she was three – stay up a little later, sit in Rhema’s car seat, ride a big bike. Her recent annual allergy tests show, however, that she still won’t get to eat pizza and ice cream and cheeseburgers like her friends. She’s turning four, and she’s still allergic to nuts, wheat, dairy, eggs and soy.
Sure, she’s had these allergies all her life. She doesn’t even know what she’s missing.
But when there are birthday parties with big princess birthday cakes and field trips to dairy farms and bakeries and you’re the only kid who cannot eat any of the yummy treats… well, it’s kind of a downer. But I’ve never seen her cry or complain or rebel over it. When an adult mistakenly gives her a food she cannot have she always politely refuses it and explains that she’s allergic.
I’m so thankful that she is so careful, that she understands the dangers…
But we had to have a little talk.
“Hope, remember when we went to see Dr. Stone last month? Well, guess what, babe. You’re still allergic. That means when you turn four soon, you’re still going to be allergic.”
I suspected that she still had all of her food allergies when we went in for testing, but I got my hopes up that just maybe she had outgrown one or two of them. If just one allergy drops off her list it will make life so much easier!
I actually took the news much harder than she did.
“Is it hard sometimes? When you can’t eat what everyone else is eating?”
“Yeah,” she said a little sadly.
“Yeah,” I said a lot sadly.
“But!” she brightened. “My best friend Olivia’s mommy brought me a ring pop at Devin’s birthday party!”
“Yes, she did! You got to have a ring pop and Tings while the others had cake and ice cream. And remember how your friends ended up wanting to have a ring pop just like you?”
“Rings pops are just as sweet as cake. And they might be even BETTER THAN CAKE!!! Because at least you’ve got a ring at the end.”
Sara Groves wrote a song about marriage called “Different Kinds of Happy.” When you are tempted to hang out in the land of bitterness and navel-gazing, when you are downcast over all the things that fell apart and the plans that never came to be, can I loan you Hope’s hope? This hope, she cheers the heart-sick, she endures the worst of conditions, and when you think you have nothing left, she regenerates somehow and never runs out.
When you have this hope, you discover there are different kinds of happy.
“Happy are those…whose hope is in the Lord their God.” Psalm 146:5
“Mommy? Will I still be allergic when I turn five?
“I don’t know, baby. We’ll see.”
Until then we’ll eat ring pops.
And be happy.
“…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Phil. 4:11