Walking by Faith, Not by Sight
Life is often filled with unexpected turns. Lacey Buchanan, author of "Eyes of Hope," talks honestly about the challenges she and her husband have faced since welcoming the birth of their first son, Christian, who was born blind. Buchanan tells how the strain of dealing with Christian's disabilities affected their marriage, and how God showed her that He was working, even in their difficult circumstances.
About the Guest
Life is often filled with unexpected turns. Lacey Buchanan talks honestly about the challenges she and her husband have faced since welcoming the birth of their first son, Christian, who was born blind.
Walking by Faith, Not by Sight
Bob: When Chris and Lacey Buchanan’s son, Christian, was born with no eyes, what followed was stressful for both mom and dad—and, ultimately, put a strain on their marriage—a strain that had them contemplating throwing in the towel.
Lacey: The biggest thing that I feel like I forgot sometimes, in the midst of those moments when we were facing divorce, is how much bigger God was than my problems. I always felt like, in those moments: “God cannot possibly fix this mess,”—like our mess was so much bigger than God; right? And how silly is that?
When I was finally able to step back, I could realize God is so much bigger than any mess I make; and He loves me enough to help me through it. I feel like—a lot of times, people look at their marriage and they think: “There is no way that this can ever be fixed. It’s too far gone. It’s…”—you know. God is bigger—He’s so much bigger.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, January 9th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Lacey Buchanan joins us today to share about how God ultimately did a turn-around in her marriage after the birth of her son, Christian. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. All of us have moments in life where we get on a path that we hadn’t anticipated—one we wouldn’t have picked for ourselves. But it seems like it’s a part of God’s design in our lives to put us on a few of those paths and to say: “Trust Me. I’ll get you through this.”
Dennis: You know, I’m thinking, as you say that, Bob, we just—earlier this year—celebrated my granddaughter, Molly’s, 10th birthday.
For those listeners who haven’t had the chance to hear that story, Molly was born to our daughter, Rebecca, and her husband Jake, and only lived seven days. On her gravestone is a statement we found on a gravestone in England some 12 months before Molly was even born. Here’s what it said—just to what Bob’s talking about—it says: “We cannot, Lord, Thy purpose see; but all is well that’s done by Thee.”
We can’t always see the purposes / we don’t know what God’s up to; but Bob, as you just said, as you go through life and after you’ve lived a few decades of life, you realize you’re going to go though some seasons of suffering / some serious trials. We have a guest with us today who has had, I don’t want to say, “…your fair share”—you may have made up for some other people here, Lacey.
Lacey Buchanan, who is the author of Through the Eyes of Hope, joins us again on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back, Lacey.
Lacey: Thank you.
Dennis: The subtitle of this book is—and this is just a good title—
Bob: I love this sub-title.
Dennis: —just a good sub-title regardless: Love More, Worry Less, and See God in the Midst of Your Adversity.
Bob: You’ve had a chance to put that to practice. You and your husband had been married a couple of years when you found out you were going to have a baby. In the middle of the pregnancy, the doctors told you there was a fetal abnormality—didn’t know what that was—an anomaly they said.
Later, you learned that your son would have a cleft lip and palette. But it wasn’t until he was born that you realized that the cleft lip and palette extended all the way up to his eyes—he was born blind. In fact, the doctors worked in the first few days of his life to kind of figure out what his condition was. It was on Day Four that the doctor came in and reported to you. What did he say?
Lacey: My husband was in the room, alone, with my son—I had stepped out for just a few moments. So the doctor comes in, I’m told—doesn’t ask where I’m at / doesn’t ask for me to come in so that he can deliver the news to both of us—and sort of walks in to my husband—it’s late at night—nine/ten pm. We’ve watched our son go through surgery—our four-day-old child go through surgery earlier that day—we are mentally, physically, emotionally drained at this point. He walks into my husband and says: “Your son is blind. Sorry,” and walks out.
By the time I get back to the room, my husband is sitting there, sobbing. I check on the baby first—like: “Has something happened? What’s going on? Is everything okay?” and, you know, Christian’s fine. That’s when my husband tells me what had happened. My first thought was: “He couldn’t even wait until I was back in the room so that we could be together?” so he didn’t have to—you know, my husband had to sort of take the brunt of that, alone, by himself.
Dennis: What were you thinking, as your husband was sobbing and was saying he’s blind. You had seen his face—that had to have dawned on you as well. How did you process that?
Lacey: It was pretty much just devastation at first. We sort of knew, by looking at him, that he was blind. It was one of those things—we were just holding out until the doctors could tell us something / could confirm something for us. That news—and I think delivered so callously to us—we were overwhelmed with / immediately overwhelmed with: “This four-day-old baby—and here is the rest of his life we’re having to contend with.”
Immediately, there in that hospital room, his whole life was in front of us. We’re thinking: “What are we going to do? How do we raise a child who’s blind? How do we raise a child with these medical needs? What is Christian’s quality of life going to be like?” because, of course, we wanted a good quality of life for this child. I feel like the news of his blindness being delivered so callously—it almost felt like as if the doctor was speaking to his quality of life as well.
We took that to heart at first—we were so young / first-time parents. There was no manual on parenting we could read ahead of time. We were devastated to know that Christian’s condition was this serious—that this is what he was facing—and we had no idea what we were going to do about it.
Dennis: Usually, when a person or a couple faces circumstances like this, there has to be a time, as you process through the realities of this and think on down the road, where you become angry. Did you get angry?
Lacey: Oh, absolutely!
Dennis: And how long did it take you to begin to express that?
Lacey: Yes! I was angry / there was a time of anger. I think it built up and peaked right about when Christian was four months old. You know, we had been going to the hospital—he was in the NICU for about a month—and it was a really hard NICU stay. He had surgery while he was there.
I was trying to work a full-time job. My husband was working a full-time job. I was going to law school still in the evenings—I didn’t get a break because I had a baby. Here I am—trying to get my child to these specialists. He had three to six appointments a week an hour away from our home. I’m trying to balance all of this—I mean, I was so overwhelmed; I felt like I was drowning.
When he was three months old, he had a second surgery. I was totally mentally unprepared for it. When he had that surgery, it was the hardest surgery he’s ever had. I sat in the hospital room, and I listened to his monitors beep. I was waiting for his heart to stop beating after this surgery—it was that bad. I sat there, and I just remember the beeping in my head. Every beat meant a heartbeat. I’m sitting here, waiting for it to stop.
I’m talking to God and I’m like: “God, I can’t do this for the rest of my life. I love this child, and I want to do whatever I have to do for him. We can’t keep going through this.” You know, Christian was facing multiple more surgeries—I’m like: “How are we ever going to get through this?”
I’m thinking: “God, what are You doing? Why are You putting us through this?”—you know?—like I’ve been going to church my whole life; I was leading praise and worship; I was teaching Sunday school classes. You know, we were doing it right and “This innocent child—what has he done?” I was so angry at God.
Dennis: Did you share that anger with Chris?—or was this more of a private shaking your fist?
Lacey: I shared some of it with Chris. I probably—more than telling Chris how angry I was at God—I was probably lashing out at him as well / you know, taking my frustrations out on him as well. He knew I was angry, for sure. We were both sort of just in a state of limbo—like: “What do we do?” Communication wasn’t good—I mean, how do you even communicate during this time? You know, we were struggling to even breathe some days—it felt like. Talking was just exerting more energy we didn’t even have. So, yes, he knew; I don’t think we ever sat down and talked about it like we should have, honestly; but—
Bob: Did all of this drive a wedge in your marriage relationship?
Lacey: It did; yes. It did for a long time, and we both handled it differently too. I was the protective mama bear—I mean, “I would fight you for my child.” You know, “I’m going to protect him.” And the difficulties that I was having—Chris wasn’t at the appointments with me with the doctors, because he was having to work. I was dealing with these doctors, who were, you know, sometimes less than nice. Here I am, already emotionally a mess, so my response to them was to start retaliating.
Dennis: “Whatever it takes to fix my son—you got to do it.”
Lacey: “Just do it!! Just do it!”—yes; yes; and “Stop being mean about it! Just do your job.” So that built up too. I was just—I was ready to fight: “If I need to fight you for my child, I will.”
Chris sort of dealt with it by just burying his head in his work—I mean, he was working as much as he could. For him, it was sort of “out of sight / out of mind”—“If I’m not around it, I don’t have to deal with it.” It’s much easier to sort of step back—he handed it to me—
—it was sort of like: “You deal with it, and I’m going to go work; because I’m still providing for the family. I’m still taking care of my responsibilities over here.”
I felt abandoned; because: “Like, hey, I need you to step up. I need your help; I’m drowning here.” In his own way, he’s over here, drowning as well. He’s thinking: “I can’t help you. I can’t help myself!”—you know.
Bob: How did you guys recognize that this was going on?—and get to a point where you can look at each other and say: “Look, we got to get on the same page. We got to support each other.” How did that process work for you?
Lacey: It took years; honestly. It wasn’t like an easy quick fix. I feel like—a lot of times, it’s expected—like: “Oh, you can just pray a couple times and God’s going to fix your marriage.” God didn’t fix our marriage—I think He fixed us!
Lacey: And He’s still fixing—not fixing and He’s done—He’s so not done with us. [Laughter] Yes; it took years of us sort of realizing our own responsibility in damaging our marriage.
You know, we had to step up—it was hard to take responsibility and say: “I really screwed up right here. I want to reconcile,” and sort of learning to put ourselves aside. You know, it was sort of selfish [of] me to expect so much of Chris, and it was selfish [of] him to sort of run. We had to own up and ‘fess up to our own selfishness and realize that “We’ve got to sort of die to ourselves a little bit more here if we are going to get this right.”
Bob: That’s an on-going process.
Lacey: It never stops!
Bob: Yes; that’s right.
Dennis: I want to make two points here. Number one, men and women process suffering like this differently.
Dennis: And different isn’t wrong—it’s just different.
Lacey: Right; right.
Dennis: And you’ve got to respect the way the other person is dealing with it. You carried this little boy in your womb for nine months; and here’s Chris, off to the side—he didn’t have those conversations with his son like you did, late at night when you said he was doing tumbling acts in your tummy.
A second thing that I want to point out—that you’re really demonstrating here—a lot of marriages don’t make it. It’s something like 60 percent of all marriages—where there is a death of a child or the birth of a child with major handicap issues—don’t last five years.
Dennis: You understand, uniquely, why that’s the case. But your covenant / your commitment to each other superseded even your trials at this point. It was your foundation and your trust in God to be able to make it through this, as a couple. Did either one of you ever toss the “D”-word out?
Lacey: Oh! Absolutely! When you said our covenant to each other—I would even go so far as to say there were times when that didn’t even matter to us. It really was more our commitment to God. Sometimes, that was what we held onto; because we were so done with each other that we were ready to throw that covenant out.
I mean, it was—I mean, we were facing divorce at one point; you know. I mean, I was at a point where—if somebody said, “What’s going on?”—I’d say, “Well, we’re probably getting divorced here in the next few months”; you know.
I mean, we came that close; but it was more about our commitment to God—so we had to step back: “What does God want?” and “Were we going down the path God wanted us to go?” Well, we could both honestly say, “No!”—you know. So: “Is this the right direction?”—well, obviously, “No!”
Bob: Lacey, there’s undoubtedly a mom or a dad, listening right now, who are in the middle of whatever crisis their facing; and they are at odds with one another. They’ve talked about, thought about, wondered about divorce. What would you say to them in the midst of that?
Lacey: Whew! That’s heavy!
Bob: You’ve been there.
Lacey: Yes! The biggest thing that I feel like I forgot sometimes, in the midst of those moments when we were facing divorce, was how much bigger God was than my problems. I always felt like, in those moments: “God cannot possibly fix this mess,”—like: “Our mess was so much bigger than God”; right? And how silly is that?
I made God small and put Him inside this box; you know? That’s not really God—that’s what I was picturing.
When I was finally able to step back and just look at the big picture, I could realize: “God is so much bigger than any mess I make, and He loves me enough to help me through it,”—not that He’s going to snap His fingers and fix it—but “He will help me through it.” I feel like—a lot of times, people look at their marriage and they think: “There is no way that this can ever be fixed. It’s too far gone.” God is bigger—He’s so much bigger.
Dennis: There’s a by-line on your book we talked about earlier: Love More, Worry Less and See God in the Midst of Your Adversity. That’s what you’re saying—is: “Remember who God is in the midst of the storm.
Dennis: Don’t believe the wrong thing about Him.”
In the midst of all this—you know, your marriage is going through its struggles / Christian is having these surgeries—God spoke to you. This got me—I’ve got to tell you, as a daddy—God spoke to you about not hiding your son’s face. Share with our listeners what took place there and maybe a little bit of a context—
Lacey: Sure; sure.
Dennis: —for why you would be hiding your son’s face.
Lacey: Yes; yes! I wasn’t hiding Christian like out of embarrassment or shame. I loved this child / I thought he was beautiful; but the thing was—not everybody agreed with me. That became blatantly apparent when we went out in public—we would get some of the worst stares / people would whisper behind my back when they thought I couldn’t hear them. I mean, then, we would have people come up to us, too, you know, with all this: “What’s wrong with your baby?” “Why does he look like that?” “What’s that on his face?”
Dennis: And some would even say, “Why didn’t you have an abortion?”
Lacey: Those people weren’t to my face, thankfully—those were usually through social media—but we did get those as well. I couldn’t even post a picture on social media of my child without garnering things like that.
We heard that and worse: “Why didn’t you abort that?”
My first instinct was: “Christian cannot hear these things about himself. I won’t allow it. If what I got to do is hide him / protect him, that’s what I’ll do.”
Dennis: Mama Bear was coming out.
Lacey: Yes; yes; yes! So I put a blanket over his car seat any time we were out in public; you know. That way, nobody could really see what was under the little blanket there. I could get my groceries, and I could do my thing and nobody bothered me. It was unreal how many people would come up and say, “Do you mind if I take a peek under that blanket?” I’d be like, “Yes; I mind.” They would be like, “What?!” [Laughter] “Well, he’s sleeping,”—you know, I was just trying to shoo them away. They were like, “Well, I won’t wake him up.” I’d be like, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” [Laughter] You know, “Let—let me just get my groceries and go on.” It happened so many times! It wasn’t once or twice—it was dozens and dozens of times—people would / strangers would approach me: “Do you mind if I like take a peek at your baby?” / “…look at your baby?”
I was like: “God, what are You trying to tell me here?” It got to the point where: “I’m not supposed to hide this baby. He’s meant to be seen.” Little did I know what that would turn into, down the road, as he got older—with the book, and social media, and things like that. But it was as if God, Himself, had spoken to me: “Don’t hide him! He has a message to share.”
Dennis: I said it got me, emotionally, to hear that story. Looking at his picture, I thought: “Christian is an image bearer. He bears the image of Almighty God.”
Lacey: Yes; he does.
Dennis: In fact, in some ways, he proclaims more about God, even though he’s less than perfect on the outside. You know what I mean? He declares something about God that, frankly, many of us would never imagine.
Dennis: And you’ve actually had people write you and tell you, “Thank you for being an inspiration for loving your son.”
Dennis: Three hundred thousand people on your Facebook® page?
Lacey: Yes; yes; over that—[Laughter]—yes; it’s crazy!
Dennis: It’s interesting how God takes something like this—and there [are] so many messages for different people in different walks of life, and your life intersects with them. The YouTube video that I watched—that is seven-and-a-half minutes long—how many people have watched that?
Lacey: Millions! I couldn’t even—we’ve lost count—millions upon millions.
Bob: We’ve got a link to it. If folks haven’t seen it, they can go to FamilyLifeToday.com and see you telling the story with Christian, there, on your lap. I have to wonder, after Christian was born, when you went back and read Psalm 139—“I am fearfully and wonderfully made”—how did you process that verse?
Lacey: At first, I was of kind of like: “God, I don’t understand Your plan here. I don’t understand what’s going on—why You’re letting things unfold this way—but if Christian is fearfully and wonderfully made, why are we going through this? Why are we dealing with these things? Why is this painful? Why can’t we just not have this pain?”—you know?
But looking back, and seeing how things have played out, and sort of seeing God’s plan unfolding, it just makes perfect sense to me now. It’s more beautiful, I think, than if it had played out the way I wanted it to. I really get to see the meaning of “fearfully and wonderfully made,” I think, through Christian; because Christian doesn’t look perfect by our societal standards. There are negative comments that we hear about his appearance; but there is no caveat in that verse that says that “We are fearfully and wonderfully made so long as we have eyes.”
Bob: Yes; or “…except for a few of…”
Lacey: Yes!—“…except for a few kids who are born like this.” You know, it really has—I mean, you know, hindsight is 20/20. I’m getting to see it just play out, and it’s beautiful.
Dennis: You’re reminding me of a Psalm—Psalm 8—that I wrote my granddaughter’s name in because she lived seven days. I wrote this on June 21st, 2008—it says, “You have set Your glory above the heavens, o God. Out of the mouth of babes and infants You have established strength because of Your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.” Your son is a living message.
Lacey: He is.
Dennis: He is a living message of the grandeur of God. This Psalm starts with this—it says: “O, Lord, our God, how majestic is Your name in all the earth.”
Christian is a living messenger to a time, more than likely, you will not see.
Dennis: He is still going to be proclaiming who God is in his unique way.
Lacey, I just want to thank you and Chris for, in the midst of it, not quitting on your marriage / not quitting on your love for your little boy, and ending up having another little boy as well, Chandler. I just thank you that you’ve been faithful.
Lacey: Thank you.
Dennis: You’ve been faithful to what God called you to do, and you’ve believed the right thing about God and you haven’t quit.
Lacey: Thank you.
Bob: I think there are going to be a lot of people who are going to want to read more about of your story in the book you’ve written called Through the Eyes of Hope. I love the subtitle: Love More, Worry Less, and See God in the Midst of Your Adversity.
We’ve got copies of Lacey’s book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order it from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can also order by calling 1-800-358-6329—1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, our hope, as we gather for these programs every day, is that, when we are all done, each day’s program will provide practical biblical help and hope for your marriage / for your family—for what you’re going through in life. It’s always been encouraging to me to run into listeners, who say: “Here is my circumstance. I turned on the radio and, at that exact time, you guys were talking about stuff that was right what I was going through. God used it in my life and I want to say, ‘Thank you.’”
Of course, we’re just grateful to God for the opportunity that we have to effectively develop godly marriages and families—that’s our mission, here, at FamilyLife®.
I know a number of you believe in that mission; because you partner with us so that the ministry of FamilyLife Today—this program that is heard on radio, on the internet, in a variety of different outlets and channels—you make it possible when you make a donation. You are actually making it possible for young couples to benefit from this program, for struggling moms, or for single parents to tune in and get the help and hope they need. We are grateful to those of you who are monthly Legacy Partners. Your monthly investment provides a stable financial foundation on which this ministry can operate. And those of you who donate from time to time—we are grateful for you as well.
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Now, tomorrow, we want to talk about what Jesus meant when He said, “Take My yoke upon you and I will give you rest.” What is the yoke we’re supposed to take on? That is something that Hannah Anderson, who is a mom with young kids, found herself wrestling with during a time when she was feeling overwhelmed. God’s Word really spoke to her. She’ll share what she learned about the yoke of Jesus on tomorrow’s program. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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