A child's illness, a mother's trial
Pro-life Reality | ‘It was honestly one of the most refining moments of my life,’ single mom Megan Dancisak says of caring for her sick son
by Angela Lu Fulton
Posted 11/11/14, 04:00 pm
This is the eighth installment of our reality series about Megan Dancisak, 28, and her son, Ethan. She has the pleasure of raising him and the hardship of doing so as a single mom. Read the first chapter of Dancisak’s story to find out how she chose life for her son when she had no idea how she could afford to raise him.
Megan Dancisak walked onstage at the Helen Bernstein High School auditorium where her church, Reality LA, meets on Sunday. She wore a glittery gold skirt that glowed under the stage lights. “It’s the Girl on Fire!” said Pastor Tim Chaddick, referring to the protagonist in the book and movie series The Hunger Games. Dancisak gave a twirl before launching into her testimony in front of the 1,000 church members in attendance. Into five quick minutes she packed the key points of her story: her rebellion against God, the discovery she was pregnant, the shame she felt showing up to church with a growing belly, the grace and love she found from her church family, and the continuing blessings God has bestowed on her and 2-year-old Ethan.
After each of the three services where she shared her testimony, men and women approached her to dote on Ethan, thank her for speaking, and tell her their own journeys. Dancisak felt elated, especially as she remembered how nervous she had been just that morning, standing behind the curtains. “I was completely beside myself,” she said, afraid of speaking in front of an auditorium full of people. In that moment, the worship team plucked the opening notes to Hillsong’s “Like an Avalanche,” a song Dancisak had played on repeat when she first found out she was pregnant. It felt like a reminder that Jesus was here, just as He had been through the most trying times of her life.
Little did she realize that it was a reminder she’d need again very soon.
A week later, a churchgoer who had heard her testimony found her after church to give Ethan toys from Disney, where he worked. He also offered them free trips to Disneyland through a special employee pass. Both mother and son couldn’t wait to go the next weekend. Ethan adores Mickey Mouse and can recite along to his Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD.
But days before the trip, Ethan came home from daycare with a high fever. Dancisak had to take days off work to care for Ethan, who was grumpy, whiny, and in pain. Rather than spending the weekend frolicking with Disney characters, Dancisak wiped snot from her son’s nose and fought to get Ethan to eat and drink.
With the two shut up indoors for days on end, Dancisak had to face unpleasant realities that were easier to overlook during busy, eventful weeks. With his adorable pout and big blue eyes, Ethan had learned how to manipulate and push the boundaries set by his mother. Dancisak struggled to find a balance between comforting Ethan and disciplining him, certain that God had chosen the wrong woman to be a mother.
“I had never spent so much time alone with [Ethan], and it was honestly one of the most refining moments of my life,” Dancisak said. “It’s my worst fear because I don’t do well being intentional in intimate situations. I fear that I’m not enough.”
One day after a sick and fussy Ethan threw a tantrum at the grocery store, Dancisak sat in her car in the parking lot yelling and crying in frustration. She looked up to see one of her customers from T-Mobile catch her eye. She quickly put on a pair of sunglasses, hoping he hadn’t recognized her, but he walked over and knocked on her car window. “I just wanted you to know that God really wants me to tell you that you’re strong and you’re doing an OK job,” he said. Immediately, Dancisak started bawling, blown away by God’s constant reminders.
During her time caring for Ethan, she saw the humbling lesson God was teaching her: She couldn’t make Ethan feel better; she couldn’t change his sin nature. She felt burned out from trying to get everything right as a mother, as a friend, and in her relationships. In the end, she wasn’t meant to be enough: “It’s so earth-shattering. I am broken and I am falling short and I hate that I need a savior, but I’m grateful that He saves.”
When Ethan started feeling a little better a few days later, Dancisak decided she could finally get back to work. But the minute she turned the key in her car’s ignition, the Honda Accord emitted a terrifying roar. She called a towing company to bring her car to the nearest mechanic, who informed her someone had stolen the car’s catalytic converter. Dancisak couldn’t believe it. It had been one thing after another since she shared the testimony, and this was the last straw. Not only did she now need hundreds of dollars to replace the converter, but she also couldn’t afford to take another day off work. Ethan was still fussing in the backseat.
Yet again, God provided, this time through community. A friend drove her to pick up a rental car so she could drop a moody Ethan off at daycare and head back to work. She texted two of her friends in her moms bible study about her predicament. Within an hour, they raised about $400. Another woman from her group recommended a trustworthy mechanic who could fix the car for less than $550. The churchgoer who worked for Disney came by and gave her $200. By the next afternoon, she had her car back completely fixed, along with an extra $250 donated from her community that she could spend on bills.
Dancisak was floored, unable to believe how God had answered her prayers beyond her own requests: “It’s incredible knowing that God cares about the little injustices of the world as much as the big injustices.”
Angela Lu Fulton
Angela is a senior reporter for WORLD Magazine and a part-time editor for WORLD Digital. She is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Angela resides in Taipei, Taiwan. Follow her on Twitter @angela818.