The Strength of Faith
“…What does the “S” stand for?”
“It’s not an “S”…on my planet, it’s a sign of hope.”
These are the words spoken by Lois Lane and Superman in the movie, “The Man of Steel.” Little did I know, these words would shape the very foundation of the life I now know.
My wife and I have always wanted a boy and a girl. We were blessed to have both.
However, our youngest, our daughter, Delaney Faith, was found not growing at the rate she should have by the 6 month of pre-natal. Doctors suspected Downs Syndrome (Trisomy 21). What was discovered is a parent’s worst nightmare. Delaney was diagnosed with Edward’s Syndrome (Trisomy 18), a chromosome disorder which happens 1 in every 6,000 births and can happen to anyone despite heredity. Trisomy 18 can cause severe abnormalities including heart defects, growth problems, and can cause some inner organs to grow on the outside of the body. We were told that the organs looked in good shape and were all inside of her body but she had a massive hole in the septum wall of her heart, as well as the valves of her heart were all on the same side in a cluster crushing each other and allowing very little blood circulation. We were told to prepare for the worst and that she would not survive. Delaney was given 4 weeks to live and then said that she would fall into cardiac arrest.
One day, as I was talking to a patient in the chiropractic clinic I work at, this woman clearly saw how distraught I was. I told her about the tragic news and she said she could relate because she herself, had lost three children. Then, she said something to me that would be the spark to ignite a powder keg of hope in my life.
She said, “In times like this, you have to be as strong as Superman.”
Holding on to her advice and summoning strength, I sought out a miracle where modern medicine would fail. I turned to God, hoping to find that miracle.
I attended church.
I prayed diligently.
I even anointed my wife with oil nightly until she gave birth.
Delaney was born and we were sent home to make her passing as comfortable as possible. Delaney defied all odds and lived 5 weeks until she passed away in the arms of my wife and me.
Sometimes, being strong just isn’t enough…
Even after I prayed daily and attended church, her life still ended without that miracle. I was furious at God! Delaney’s casket was so small, I had to physically pick it up and place it in the ground myself because the belt gaps were too big to lower it. Carrying my daughter one last time to rest caused me to become depressed, an empty, zombie-like shell of my former self. I even struggled with suicidal thoughts.
Until, one day, my spirit broke. I prayed to God and shouted, “WHY!?” I asked, “If my life is not mine to take, please give me a sign of hope that everything will be okay and that I’m still meant to be here and do something.”
A few days later, remembering what the woman had said about being strong, I watched the new Superman movie, “Man of Steel,” for the first time in hopes it would take my mind off things for a while. Then I heard the line as Lois Lane met Superman for the first time, “It’s not an “S”…on my planet it’s a sign of hope.” I was floored. I couldn’t believe those were my exact words spoken to God.
Clearly, it was my answer but…WHAT DID IT MEAN?
Being a runner, I was due for new running gear for the season of races coming up. I walked into the sporting goods store one day and there it was right in front of me, a long sleeve compression Superman running shirt. Snatching it off the rack, “faster than a speeding bullet,” I paired it with red shorts, bright red shoes, superman compression socks, and even a cape to follow me as I ran.
The first race of my season was just 2 days after the funeral, the 2014 Pensacola Double Bridge Run. With no time or energy to prepare for it, I ran the race as a tribute to Delaney. I wrote a message on the back of my cape for her,
“For Delaney 12/17/13 – 1/25/14, Have faith and run like you see Jesus at the finish line, love Daddy.”
As I stood at the start line the morning of the race, runners read my cape. Many cried, hugged me, shook my hand or patted me on the back. When they asked what happened to her, they listened with intent. I was getting awareness out about a surprisingly little known chromosome disorder that literally no one had ever heard about and it felt good to honor my daughter and give her a legacy, a legacy of awareness so that she did not die in vain.
Since that day, I’ve made amends with God. Even in my anger and rage, he still loved me enough to answer my prayer and give me a purpose as His BeLoved.
Part Two of this incredible BeLoved Story will be available soon!