Words have always been my friends. I used to spend hours as a kid hiding outside on my grandparent’s farm in the summertime, reading book after book, and spending whatever time was left writing short stories, poems and plays. In the winter, I’d make a spot in the back of my closet and spend hours on end – oftentimes falling asleep there – doing the same. I don’t usually have a lack of things to say, at least not on paper. But these last few days have been different.
Sometime within the next week, I’ll be traveling across the state to take my twelve year old son to a residential psychiatric treatment facility for a 90 day evaluation.
And the thought of my “baby” being about 7 hours away from me for a minimum of the next 3 months is, let’s face it, pretty devastating. This idea of having to sacrifice yet another chunk of his childhood dealing with these issues, even if I know that it’s in his best interest and worth it if it gives us a good shot at him being able to cope with the next stage of his life, has left me trying desperately to hold on to anything. To make sense of this in my own head, because I’m not sure there’s much I can say to my heart that would be enough to counteract the waves of guilt that threaten to overtake me.
That inevitablility has left me in a place where there hasn’t seemed like there’s much of anything to say. I’ve been focused on how God is who He is, and I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful that He’s a God of love and that His wisdom is endless and He’s in control so I can keep on going. That I need to and can accept whatever path He has planned and prepared because He knows what He’s doing.
But it still hurts.
And in the midst of that, my thoughts keep turning to the song “I’m Trading My Sorrows” and the verses in 2 Corinthians the lyrics originate from. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. ” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV)
You see, between my own, misguided, sinful self and the enemy telling me how bad of a mom I am, that I’m going to drop my child off with strangers and he’ll never forgive me for it, that something awful will happen if my kiddo is not home where I can protect him, there’s a part of me that wanted to give up and run away. Back to the tried and true coping mechanisms of the past, where I could at lease postpone and temorarily numb the pain. But, had I done that, I would have missed the truth of those two little verses. The truth that’s put things more into a kind of comprehensive overview for me.
I’ve sung that song a hundred times or better over the years. I’ve read over those verses dozens of times. And yet, did I ever really understand how significant those words are? The power in those simple sounding little phrases? The answer is a resounding “no”. Because the truthfullness of the next thought, the beautiful simplicity, was a bit groundbreaking when this hit my heart for the first time instead of just sitting in my brain as purely intellectual.
“It must be awfully frustrating for the enemy to know that he can throw fear and depression and anxiety at me, that he can throw darts at me, try to box me in with thoughts that used to knock my out in a heartbeat, but he has no power to crush me. He may try to confuse me, mostly when my understanding of God’s purposes are already so limited, but he has no authority to cause me to sink into the pits of despair. And he may influence the words and actions of those around me, but he cannot pluck me from the hand of the Lord.”
The threat of that persecution or overwhelming thoughts and emotions that can so easily overtake me if I’m not careful, are still just a choice I make about whether or not I’m going to go there, I’m the one with the power to choose to stay held back by the anxiety or if I’m going to focus on following Jesus. I’m the only one who can choose to look for Him in the middle of whatever the circumstances and ask how He wants this conflict, this stuggle to change me more into the person He created me to be.
And that choice is the same for my sweet little kid. I can encourage, pray and push, but just like noone can make the choice for me, I can’t make the choice for him. But I believe in a God so big that He will literally put someone inside of a fish for three days, that will part the waters, and show up in the dramatic flare of a burning bush. The God who knocks down the wall of Jericho with a trumpet blast and turns back the sun. The God who created everything, and prepares a path for us. The Savior who loves us enough to die on hill. It’s that same God who takes all the ugliness in the human heart and yet folds our own misguided steps into the unfolding of His perfect plan. The same God who says that all things work together for good, even if that version of good isn’t the easy road, but the road to hanging upside down on a cross for the good of His Kingdom.
I believe this same God, this same Savior and lover of our souls, has a plan for my current situation. That He desires to use this turn of events in such a way that one day, even if that day is not while I’m in this life, I will be able to see the true beauty of this part of His story. I believe that He is working and will continue to lead the way. That in the meantime, when I can’t seem to see past the next turn, he has a purpose and a way to weave this path into the goodness of His plan. That He’ll teach me how to help both of my boys see Him regardless of the circumstance. To focus on what He would have our next steps to be instead of retreating into the darkness of my own fear.
So what’s the next step?
I have a few ideas as to that, but it’s for the next time….