My wife Abigail was pregnant with our fifth child. She was two weeks overdue and the last couple of days we’d been in and out of hospital, but still no sign of baby Shine! Then on Monday night, at about midnight, just as I was drifting off, the contractions started to come, and we knew it wouldn’t be long. By about 3am we were in the car driving (fast!) to the hospital. At 4:30am our baby was born.
The doctor said congratulations - it's a boy! And then there was an eerie silence. The doctor brought the baby across the room, put him down and went back to helping my wife. Still, an eerie silence. Something was wrong - but what? I edged closer to our newborn, he was clearly very purple, but was breathing and looked alert. He'd already given a short cry, so what could possibly be wrong? All sorts of ideas went through my head at that moment. Did we come to the hospital too late? Had we damaged our baby?
As I took a closer look, I saw that the head and eyes were slightly unusual, and I suspected Down Syndrome. By then a pediatrician was checking the baby and I asked if this was the case, and she solemnly muttered something I didn't fully understand about how they couldn’t say for sure until they had done some tests.
In that moment there was fear for sure. What extra help will he need? How will we pay for the extra care? What will people think? Am I inferior? How will my wife take it? What will our parents say? Who will look after him when he’s older? What about my work – will I be able to do the traveling I intended to do?! Would I be able to love this child fully? Would I be able to give this child what he needed and still give our other children what they needed?
In that moment, I made a decision - I chose love over fear.
Choosing love didn’t mean I had all the answers, it didn’t mean I had resolved all my issues – in fact I knew full well that I didn’t even know what half the issues were yet!
But I decided to focus on love. What that meant to me, was embracing the situation, really DECIDING that no matter what anyone else said or felt, I’m going to be proud of this little boy, and I’m going to do my best to MAKE this situation into a blessing. It meant looking at this shock as an opportunity. Fortunately, some of the positive possibilities immediately started to shine through. What better opportunity could there be for our whole family to become closer, to become givers, to love unconditionally, to stop judging and start just doing the best we can?
This experience has transformed me. The love I chose was not only love for my boy, but also love for myself. For perhaps the first time in my life I decided that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. I decided on a deep level that I am OK. I am doing the best I can with what I have, and if that isn’t good enough for someone else, it won’t affect my okay-ness.
The decision to focus on love over fear meant no regret, no sadness and no disappointment. Challenges? Yes! Emotion and tears – Yes! But the focus on love ushered in all the new possibilities that a challenge brings with it.
Since that moment, the love has come back to us thousands of times from our son, family, friends, neighbors and even complete strangers! Since my decision, my relationships have reached new depths, and my experience of life has taken a quantum leap.
Can you see the paradox in this? Our unexpected challenge was the catalyst for a new dose of love and acceptance and I have changed faster and more profoundly ever since. I can accept people’s comments as valuable feedback and have no need to be defensive. I can offer love without worry that it’s non-acceptance will break me. I can be myself without fear of rejection. I can take on projects with way less fear of failure.
In my mind, the best thing you can do for yourself and the world is to choose love over fear every day. There are many ways to do this, but how to do this is irrelevant until you DECIDE TODAY to make that choice over and over again, no matter what. When you make that decision, paths to your goal, and to your love, will open up before you and you allow more and more happiness to flow into your experience of life.
As an internationally trained psychologist, Eli Shine has invested the last 15 years in study and service to Cultivating Happiness. He has worked with some of the most well known names in personal development worldwide. He helps people to shift out of anxiety and negativity and into Unconditional Gratitude.
Eli is a proud father of 5 children and a dedicated husband living in Israel, committed to the message that happiness is available any time, even when it is far from obvious. To learn more about Eli and the Happiness Challenge visit www.onlinehappinesschallenge.com.