Monday, February 28, 2011

my answer

My nine-year-old son is afraid every night.

OCD steals his peace, haunts his dreams, fragments his sleep.

Someone is going to put a spear through my bed.

If he lets his hand dangle on one side of his bed, or too close to the edge, something will come up from under his bed and chop it off.

He's sure someone is lurking in the hallway.  He tries not to look up.

If he doesn't turn over a certain number of times in his bed, something bad will happen.

No.....these aren't the thoughts of a child allowed too much cable TV.

We don't have cable.  And the Mom and Dad here never watch movies--rented or otherwise.  No time.

For six weeks, at his request, I laid down with him until he fell asleep.  It was how I could be the face of Jesus to a hurting boy, afflicted with an ugly disorder.

But I ended up falling asleep in there, finally emerging around 10:20 P.M. most nights, with a groggy body and a slew of chores to do.  It just wasn't working.  My sleep was fragmented by my two year old, as well.  And I had no down time.

Last week I told him I would merely pray, cuddle for a bit, and then leave the room, as I'd done for years.  Most of the nights since then, everything has gone relatively well, thank God.

There are problems in the middle of the night, too.  My husband started sleeping in the spare queen bed, so that when our son awakens at night, scared out of his mind, he would have a place to go that wouldn't involve him waking the baby.

Most nights he ends up with Daddy in the wee hours, sometimes so scared from a dream that he can't fall asleep unless he can touch Daddy's arm or shoulder.

Sometimes he can't fall back asleep because he's uncomfortable, but he fears if he shifts from his spot, a bomb will explode under the bed.

OCD has an ugly, cruel voice.

My sister-in-law, who had a son at age sixteen, told us recently that her son washed his hands incessantly and had horribly scary dreams as well, when he was our son's age.  As a young mother, she wasn't aware of OCD and didn't know to ask questions at the pediatrician's office.  Her son had other peculiarities growing up. He recently sought help, at age 33.  The diagnosis?  OCD and Bi-Polar Disorder.

He is single, lonely, depressed, dysfunctional.  He's never had a girlfriend, though he's always wanted one.  He would like to marry someday, but is terribly scared of dating.  He lacks personal confidence and suffers from social phobia.  He doesn't take his medicine, so he frequently experiences the slumps of Bi-Polar. He does manage to hold onto his job as an auto mechanic.  He's a good one.

My father-in-law, whom I've seen only twice in twelve years, is very peculiar. Since his wife's auto-accident death 36 years ago (husband's mother), he has remained a widower, though not by choice.  His peculiarities point to something neurological. He's estranged from his two kids (my husband and my sister-in-law), by his own choice.  He doesn't answer his phone or open letters, so we check on him via a neighbor.  He's in his mid-eighties.

When my husband and sister-in-law went down to Florida to see their Dad three years ago, after their Dad underwent hip surgery, things went awry with the relationship.  Their father got very upset that Lorrie cleaned his house while he was in the hospital.  It hadn't been cleaned in years.  He suspected she was looking for money, though distrust had never permeated the relationship before, as far as either child could tell.  Other strange things upset him that visit, causing a three-year silence from him.

The other night, my son's fear was great.

And I wasn't the face of Jesus.  I was irritated.  After battling two days of full-day headaches, I couldn't be the face of Jesus to anyone.  I was spent.

He went to sleep finally, after I angrily told him not to come out again.

But I felt horrible.  I wanted a do over.

He didn't choose the cards he's been dealt.  He doesn't know how to make OCD go away.

How will I have enough strength, enough grace, enough agape love, to be the face of Jesus, every day, to this boy--despite whatever else goes wrong in my life?

Everything points to my son having a dysfunctional, unhappy life.  Others before him, of the same blood, haven't faired well.  What makes me think God will spare my own son from the same earthly dysfunction, or worse?

My own husband, afflicted with, as far as I know, just regular inattentive-type ADHD, hasn't led a happy life.  At eighteen, husband was sure God was calling him to the ministry--either a pastoral position or a missionary one. He was so sure.

He spent five years in Bible College and a year in Seminary.  To get by while in school, he worked as a custodian.

Now 52, he still works as a custodian. He's haunted by that fact, every day. What went wrong?  How could he have felt so sure of God's voice, calling him to ministry?

The answer, I know, is to practice gratitude every day, despite how one's life turns out.  Despite deep disappointment, despair.  Despite walking a path not chosen.  Who knows whether certain paths result from our own mistakes, or because God preordained them for us?

When I'm called to comfort those I live with, over things hard to swallow, it's so difficult to say, "You have God and He is enough.  Our salvation is enough.  His grace is enough."

I say different forms of this same thing.  Over and over.  I don't know what else to say.  I don't have any other answers.

My answer may not work at the moment it's given.  Life entails ups and downs, for everyone.  In a deep down time, it sounds like the last thing even a Christian wants to hear.

But when a beautiful woodpecker appears at our feeder, it all makes sense.

In that moment.

The abundant life is lived in moments from God.  They are our grace.

When we give thanks for them, when we identify the moments as gifts from God, they carry us through to that glorious time....

...when Jesus takes our hand, receiving us in Paradise.

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