Tuesday, March 29, 2011

well with my soul

I'm sitting on his bed, reflective.

He's at the computer, working on a Teaching Textbooks lesson on right angles, line segments, rays, and how to name angles.

His fingers are in his mouth, then out.  He's sucking on his sweatshirt collar, then back to his finger.

A rash is developing around his mouth, from chewing so frequently on toys, clothes, fingers.

My heart aches as I watch him.

Is this a Tourette's tic?  Is it the OCD?  Is it the ADHD?  Is it the anxiety?

He seems happy today.  Relatively calm.  So why the chewing?

Last night after church husband shared news about the car we hope to buy from his friend.  His friend's mother died in February 2010 and it took the law firm thirteen months to finish work on her uncomplicated, uncontested will.  Her estate was worth $35,000 cash, plus a duplex in PA.  The lawyers took $7000 for their fee.  This sickened the family.  She saved all those years, so that lawyers could make $7000?

Surely there must be a better way to leave a parting gift to your loved ones?

Anyway, husband shared his discouragement.  About our van not always starting when he needs it to.  About having to enter the van from the passenger side door, rather than the driver door.  About the exhaust problem we obtained a hardship extension on last July.  We're required to spend $300 to try to fix our emissions problems or we can't renew the van registration.

The car we hope to buy is twenty-five years old but with relatively few miles. James, husband's friend, will sell it to us for $200.  We just found out it has to be inspected before we drive it out of PA and all necessary repairs have to be made.

I'm sure all this regulation is good for someone.  Just not for the working poor.  Regulations choke the poor.

Husband wonders what it means that God only gives good gifts.  What does it mean that God always provides?  This is providing?  A van emitting illegal exhaust is providing?

He is angry, confused. He drives at least 300 miles a week.  He needs a good vehicle.

Why has obtaining this car become such a nightmare?  Is it not God's will? How expensive could it get?  And what if the car only runs for five months, after all this effort?  Since it's not insured or registered, James starts it up every couple weeks, but he doesn't drive it. It hasn't been driven for two years.

Husband is thinking of having his nephew, a car mechanic in PA, look over the car to see if the effort is worth it.  But will the nephew follow through? He has a myriad of problems in his life.  It's possible that a dealer would charge a fortune and conveniently find a lot of repairs.

Husband wonders what God expects from us.  Why is everything a hassle?

As he talks, I think of Peter.  They are so similar.  The low frustration threshold.  The anger.  The always counting hardships, never blessings. (Although Peter may be changing in that regard.)

I hear this about ADHD sufferers.  They see the world as glass-half empty. Waiting is agonizing. Everybody else has it better.  Anger boils under the surface.  Frustration abounds.  They lock their keys in the car.  Lose their keys.  The pace of life overwhelms.  Expectations choke.  They disappoint others, then themselves.

I listen.  I empathize.  I pray while he talks.

God does give good gifts.  No one will convince me otherwise.  I reject any other notion.....though I keep this to myself.

My son continues to chew on his badly chapped hands as he works through the problems.  They're easy for him.  He's enjoying math today.

I won't pity him, Lord.  I won't.

I won't pity my husband.

I won't be dragged down into the pit.

I want to comfort them, love them, mercy them.  But not go into the pit with them.

God only gives good gifts.  ADHD and it's ugliness?  OCD and it's ugliness?  Anger they can't seem to stifle, no matter how hard they try?

They're all good gifts.  And I mustn't pity.  Love, mercy, grace.  But not pity.

Lord, help me listen in love.  Respond with grace.

I can't make it fair.  I can't sugar-coat something I don't understand.  I can't make someone say yes to disorder.  Yes to an unreliable van.  Yes to two years and counting of underemployment and stress.

I must trust you to take care of them. Trust you to flood them with your lovingkindness.  Trust you to minister to their innermost needs.

What does it really mean to suffer with someone?  How deep do you go with them?  This is a question for anyone who resides with struggling loved ones.

I believe we must suffer with them in love, but not go into that pit of despair. Our own joy, our own peace, must remain intact.

They must wrestle alone with God.  They must come to terms with this life, with God's upside-down world.  We all do this God-wrestle, at some point in our lives.  No one can take our place in the ring.

The outcome?  Hopefully, full surrender.

The man who wrote the hymn It Is Well With My Soul suffered a tragic loss days before penning the hymn.  Here is the story (source found here):

Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) was a wealthy Chicago lawyer with a thriving legal practice, a beautiful home, a wife, four daughters and a son. He was also a devout Christian and faithful student of the Scriptures. His circle of friends included Dwight L. Moody, Ira Sankey and various other well-known Christians of the day.

At the very height of his financial and professional success, Horatio and his wife Anna suffered the tragic loss of their young son. Shortly thereafter on October 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed almost every real estate investment that Spafford had.

In 1873, Spafford scheduled a boat trip to Europe in order to give his wife and daughters a much needed vacation and time to recover from the tragedy. He also went to join Moody and Sankey on an evangelistic campaign in England. Spafford sent his wife and daughters ahead of him while he remained in Chicago to take care of some unexpected last minute business. Several days later he received notice that his family's ship had encountered a collision. All four of his daughters drowned; only his wife had survived.

With a heavy heart, Spafford boarded a boat that would take him to his grieving Anna in England. It was on this trip that he penned those now famous words, When sorrow like sea billows roll; it is well, it is well with my soul.

This man's journey with God amazes me.  I love reading this story over and over. I want to live like this. Feel like this. Journey with God like this.

During yesterday's church sermon the pastor showed us a video clip of a 33-year-old aspiring pastor who had just taken a job as an IT guy at a mega church.  He and his wife and three kids were ecstatic.  For three months they were on top of the world.

Suddenly, after a life of perfect health, the young man was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.  He was confused, dazed.  Why now?  Why me?  He had surgery and four months of miserable chemotherapy, which completely eradicated the cancer.  He was cancer free.  He and his family spent a glorious month celebrating.  Then, a month later, they learned the cancer had come back elsewhere.  He learned nothing more could be done medically. Do you know what he said in the video?
 "I'm praying that God heals me, but I know I may not live to see 2011.  I want to see my daughter and sons walk down the aisle.  I want to grow old with my wife.  I hope God heals me.  If He does, then He's a good God.  If He doesn't heal me, He's still a good God.  Through this experience, I've become a better father, better husband, better friend, better employee, better Christian. God has been glorified.  God is always good."  (Not an exact quote, but this is how I remember it.)

The young man died in May, 2010.

God is always good.

I want this kind of surrender in my life. In my son's life.  In my husband's.

And for you, friend.

May it be so Lord!

(Details shared with my family's permission.)

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