This week has been a doozy.
I totally lost my cool with my oldest the other night. He’s a teenager, and as teenagers go, I got a really good one. But the fact remains, he’s still a teenager, and sometimes, I just wonder where he left his brain. All that to say, I lost my cool . . . and it wasn’t pretty . . . and apologies followed. Sorry your mom acted like a raving lunatic . . . lest anyone think I actually have this parenting thing figured out.
It did not help that my youngest has had a rough week and has really been struggling with regulation and self-control. Four weeks into third grade . . . the shiny newness has worn off . . . third grade is hard y’all. So, while not totally unexpected, the “behaviors”, details intentionally withheld, started on Monday and haven’t totally stopped as of this morning. I mean we’ve had some ebb and flow, but many a prayer has been uttered for peace, patience, wisdom, and strength, many a privilege has been lost, and many a tear has been shed at this point. A lot of what goes on behind the scenes, at school and at home, is rarely seen or understood by casual acquaintances and friends. When people hear me discuss our struggles, which I don’t often do, I’m bombarded with advice on how to discipline. I hear plenty of, “If that was my child . . .”. Full stop. Nope. You would not. Because it wouldn’t work, and you’d quickly realize only exacerbates the issues. Having said all that, when we get on the struggle bus, it can be hard to get off. Next stop please . . . by last night, Wednesday night, I was exhausted and discouraged. And I went to bed feeling like we are constantly taking two steps forward and ten steps backward. I know, when I look back over the course of the years, I see so much growth and improvement, but in the moments when things are just hard, it’s very difficult not to let the fear and discouragement creep in and take over.
Which is where I found myself at around 3:00 a.m. on this Thursday morning. I wasn’t fully awake, but I was praying. And over and over, the words from Hebrews 11:1 kept running through my mind, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The opening words to the Hall of Faith . . . the faith of the men and women, who despite all their imperfections, struggles, and often, vast evidence to the contrary, stood strong on God’s promises. It’s always funny to me, the scriptures that God brings to mind when I’m struggling. He almost always does it when I’m half asleep, and thus actually able to hear Him because my own brain, which is usually running a hundred miles a minute, is relatively quiet. They’re not always the scriptures I would expect. I would’ve wanted something comforting this morning. A direct statement that He was going to fix it . . . today. Instead, He tells me, that I have to keep on keeping on. I have to stand strong in my faith.
Faith – belief, trust, confidence
Substance – assurance, a guaranteeing, a giving substance
Evidence – proof, conviction
Just a few of the words that further describe these words in Strong’s.
You see, seven years ago, we had just returned from our trip to meet Anna. She was so tiny, pale, and malnourished. At almost two and a half years old, she was just learning to walk, and had zero intelligible words. She only occasionally engaged with us, mostly when we finally convinced the orphanage to let us take her outside. Much of her time was spent rocking back and forth and flapping her hands in the air. I didn’t know exactly what we were facing, but I knew we had a steep
hill mountain to climb once home. I would find myself fully awake in the dark hours of the early morning, pleading with God to help us love her well. I don’t really remember the details of any of the prayers, but I do remember asking for a scripture for her from Him. I know, to many that sounds hokey. How do you really know it’s from God? Isn’t all scripture from Him? All I can say is I just knew. One early fall morning, not much unlike this morning, I heard the words from Isaiah 54:17 as clearly as if they were spoken aloud, in my mind, “‘No weapon formed against you shall prosper; And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me,’ Says the LORD.” I knew those words were for Anna as surely as I knew the sun would rise that morning. Here’s the thing, that is not the scripture I was expecting or would have picked. I was expecting something pretty, flowery, probably from Psalms, but Isaiah, over and over again, has been where God has led me in times of challenge, growth, and even, distress. Almost the entire chapter of Isaiah 54, has become my theme and battle cry for my children, and especially for Anna.
Time and again, over the years, she has condemned the tongues that have risen against her in judgment. The therapist that said she would never talk. The evaluator that said she would likely never read or write or be in a “normal” classroom. Even my own fears and words spoken out of fear she has shown to be wrong. And this morning, God was reminding me where my faith lies. Because we can do all the things. We can seek all the earthly help, the therapies, the medical and emotional interventions . . . all needed and necessary . . . I am a firm believer that God uses those things on this earth to help us . . . but ultimately, none of that will heal our deepest wounds and trauma . . . only God can and will. I also firmly believe He is in the process of doing that. But I believe it is a process, and I believe there is a purpose and a refining, for all of us, in that process.
So, today I will continue to push through the hard and lean into my faith on the good days and the not so good ones. Today I will turn up the praise and drown out the lies of the enemy. I won’t lie and say I feel 100% better. I won’t say that I’m not fighting fear and apprehension about what this day may bring. But today I will not be ruled by my feelings and emotions because I serve a God who is bigger. I serve the Creator who knows all of us, our children, our spouses, ourselves, better than anyone on this earth could ever possibly know us. I serve the Healer of the deepest wounds, the world’s best Counselor, the greatest Physician, and the ultimate Comforter.
“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:14