when you doubt

Sunday, October 26, 2014

DeathtoStock_NotStockI think I believe in this miracle-working God who makes everything sad come untrue and sets the captives free and works it all for good, but then life intersects. Sometimes it’s all more mud than it is glory.

People get cancer…and instead of being healed and fighting the disease back to remission, they die and leave behind their children to pick up the pieces.
Cars crash…and there isn’t the angel that visits the scene to pull out the body before it is crushed.
Marriages crumble…and sometimes they don’t have this wonderful redemption story. Sometimes they just end.
People are hungry…and sometimes no one comes to give them food. Sometimes they just die of starvation.
Children are brought into this world…and sometimes they aren’t protected by the people who are supposed to protect them. Sometimes those people hurt them instead.
People work all of their life, as hard as they can…and sometimes they never, ever get ahead. Sometimes they end in as much poverty as they started.
Children are adopted…and sometimes it doesn’t end happily ever after. Sometimes the adoptive home is worse than the first family they had to leave behind, and they are ripped yet again from another family only to spend years in foster care and age out of the system with no family at all.

Sometimes things don’t end up the way we want them to. Sometimes things don’t end the way we think God should make it end. Sometimes He just doesn’t intervene. I don’t know why. I can’t explain that. I know I love Him. I trust Him in spite of it. My eyes are on You, Jesus, but boy, do I have some questions…

[image: death to the stock photo]

the hair of humility

Saturday, October 18, 2014

These past two weeks have given me another silver hair. I have pulled my single silver strand with dedication for a couple years now, last night being no exception, but then this morning, I looked in the mirror to see another shiny metallic glint in my part line. My first showed up during the trauma of our foster care journey with our two youngest permanents. I suppose this one could be attributed to a gift from the upcoming finalization of the littlest’s adoption, but I tend to think it’s from the stress of the past couple months. Wading with your children through their deep stuff all the while battling some deep stuff of your own will age you quicker than anything.

origin_3718841972I realized some heavy truths this week. Mostly that my angst and grief over my child’s difficulties are largely just all selfish feelings about me. I feel like I’ve failed. I feel like if I were better at my job and my life that we would not have these problems. I feel like I’ve done all the wrong things. I’m afraid people will think I’m a bad parent. I’m afraid that I am a bad parent.

Really, though? My son’s story is not all about me. It’s his story. I get to walk alongside him through it, and I hope that I help more than I do harm, but in the end, it’s his story. Only his.

I am not his savior.
I am not his rescuer.
I am not the person who will make all things right in his life.

I love him.
I protect him.
I advocate for him.
I teach him.
I pray for him.
I am on his side.

From now on, when I look in the mirror and I see that second silvery thread, I will remember I am his mama. And that’s the end of it. I do everything that a mama should do. The outcome? It’s just not up to me. Even if he never heals in the way I hope and imagine, it’s not about ME. This isn’t about what I do or don’t do, how I feel about it all. This is my son’s story, and the redemption and restoration and rebuilding that I work for in his little life is really just up to One who loves him more than I ever could.

So that hair up there? It’s just a little reminder of who I am NOT. I think I’ll call it the Hair of Humility.

(That I will continue to pull out whenever it appears. So I’m vain. Some things can’t be helped.)

make me brave

Saturday, October 4, 2014

IMG_9375Earlier this week, I spend a full hour googling cabins and spas and small inns, dreaming of a quiet retreat, somewhere to recharge and rest for just a bit. I’m sure part of it was the relentless heat of summer’s end, part of it also the relentless demand of a large family. Even in this heat, the leaves have been falling, but instead of that being the joyfully anticipated harbinger of my favorite season, this year it’s feeling just a little bit like death and fear.

In the flush of victory of a successful beginning to the school year, we are watching our son deal with demons that we haven’t seen exhibit themselves in years. Learning how to love him well has been a constant struggle, and if I’m to tell the truth here, it’s been more failure than success on my part. I’m not telling those of you who are parents anything that you don’t know, but there is no greater piercing than watching your children suffer, particularly the kind of soul-crushing suffering that makes your heart break wide open. If you’re the mama of a child who has come from a hard place, you also know that when most people, even your friends or family, want to tell you that the behaviors are normal, that things are to be expected, you know there is just a level that is deeper for your child. Yes, the behaviors often look typical. It’s usually the reasoning behind them and the depth of it that is different. That’s the muck we’re wading through right now, even while we celebrate the enormous victories our sweet boy is experiencing at school, at church, and at home. He has worked so hard to come this far, but it is a definite reminder that the pit is just as deep as it has always been even if we don’t go there as much or stay there as long.

I get him in a way that I’ve never before. I’m struggling with some deep stuff too. The underlying fear that fuels a lot of my emotions has come out in my actions more than I’d prefer. You’d think as an adult, I’d have a better handle on that, but this fall, I’ve been daily confronted with my own weaknesses. For instance, I’ve felt better than I’ve had in more than 2 years for the bulk of this summer, but suddenly my hair is coming out in giant handfuls and my palpitations are keeping me up at night again. I think it’s just stress, but there’s always that undercurrent of fear that I’ve enjoyed as much good health as I’m going to ever have again. We’re also beginning one of the biggest life changes our family has ever experienced, and I’m gripped by the uncertainty that surrounds it. I’m overcome by my own resistance – there’s never been anything that I’ve wanted to do less. Yet I know it’s right, and I know it’s God. So I can’t say no, and I’m just honestly a little ticked off regarding the whole thing.

I spent a lot of time this week bemoaning my son’s attempts to run away (a new tactic he’s been trying of late). But really. Do I have the right? Isn’t that what I’m longing for at heart too? To run away? The hours I spend daydreaming about escaping my life for a time, the hotels and places and pretties that I pin while I long for a vacation where I can forget about my trouble…is that so different from my seven-year-old just taking off down the street?

Just as I follow him down the road through the neighborhood while he walks off his anger so he realizes there’s no place he can run to that we won’t follow him, that there’s nowhere too far that we won’t love him back home…that’s what my Jesus is gently, gently saying to me too.

If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
Psalm 139:9-10

I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Joshua 1:5

Any of you want to run away and escape too? Is it just that time of year? What I do know is that this is the time, right here, right now, where we need to be brave - my sweet boy. me, and maybe you too. Walking forward into the unknown, where our feet may fail, trusting that we walk in a living hope that will never fade or perish, that will not put us to shame. Trusting that we follow Love who already made a way for us. Leaning on the One who is for us, not against us. Strong and courageous, I am stepping forward into the deep. Not without fear, certainly; I am still crazy afraid, but I’m headed to where I have no choice but to let it all go in surrender.

Isn’t that what true bravery is? Doing the thing you’re scared to in spite of the risk?

Jesus, make us brave.

 

[image: death to the stock photo]

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