Growing in commitment.
by Jay Kroll (B.S. '06) and Jen Kroll ('00)
There is a picture in my head of a superhero, colorful and strong, flying fast through the air to the rescue. The building is on fire, the ceiling caving in and a blur of muscle, spandex and hair dashes into danger to save Mrs. Nelson's cat.
Bravery. Courage. Duty. Whatever.
To me, courage looks a lot more subtle and crazy than the comic book fantasy. It can be uncomfortable and disruptive to watch...
We met Jerrensia at an orphanage in Port Au Prince, Haiti, just two months after a devastating earthquake ravaged the region. We were brought face-to-face with a need and, although we did not have all of the answers or resources, we stepped out in faith and brought a special needs child into our home and family.
We knew that her presence would mean disruption—to our routine, the parent-to-child ratio, the clothing budget. It meant the addition of terms and vocabulary we weren't used to, to doctors, therapies, surgeries and so on. Assessment here revealed more challenges and complications, and we battled frustration and confusion as we tried to work through the best course of care.
Part of Jerrensia's condition, Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), resulted in severely clubbed feet and underdeveloped joints in her knees and hips. For years we worked with our team to stretch muscles and strengthen bones to give her the opportunity to walk on her own two feet, but her body wouldn't cooperate. Her relentless desire to walk forced us and the team at Mary Free Bed to be creative with mocked up prosthetics and walking frames that hadn't been tried with Arthrogryposis cases before.
Every step of the way was filled with prayer—tears and pleading, joy and praise. In 2013, we opted for a double amputation of her legs, thinking at the very least she would be able to stand to brush her teeth, wash dishes, etc. It's now one year later and she's walking on prosthetic legs, loving life and showering the world with joy and encouragement.
I don't like to think of us as being particularly courageous. In so many areas of life, I find myself constantly questioning, probing and challenging my thoughts and decisions, but with her it was different…we can grasp just enough of God's love for us, for the orphan, for the lost, that responding becomes instant, unquestionable, visceral—like doing anything but would be the crazy thing.
Courage feels more to me like faithfulness in action in areas where others find those actions absurd. It is a response to something, but more so it is a response because of something. We are so painfully unaware of the fullness of God's love, the depth of His desire and the relentlessness of His pursuit.
Knowing God's love provides the freedom to be courageous. It is the source of our trust, the cornerstone of our convictions and the foundation of the hope we have in His victory.