Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Power of Story

On the verge of hormonal tears and desperate for some uninterrupted slumber, I didn't start the day well. Hours of baking the previous day stole our straightening-up time. I awoke to runaway clutter. The nail in the coffin came when my ADHD child awoke mouthy, impulsive, and ungrateful.

He never repented.

Continued defiance resulted in a park trip--which he'd looked forward to all day--being stripped from him. Exercise of any form is only taken away as a last resort.

Hell hath no fury like an ADHD child who just lost a privilege. The anger is ugly and scary and the whole family suffers the fight or flight response. With each occurrence I'm certain prison awaits my son--a place many ADHD people end up, due to their deadly anger.

The last thing I wanted today was alone time with Peter--especially a furious Peter.

Months have gone by with no break for me (as I define a break). Thrift store trips every six weeks or so used to be my alone-time treat. There's been no money for that so on the weekends I catch up on chores while the family goes to the park for a few hours--weather permitting. This arrangement is as close to a break as I can do right now. (A family outing, perhaps to the library, occurs on another weekend day.)

This may not seem like the best choice for my time--remaining at home instead of getting out--but battling clutter and crumbs and dirt is necessary for my sanity. The family claims they don't care about the house, but studies show runaway clutter affects all of us.

I live this truth. Frequent straightening by Momma and the crew helps defeat the clutter blues, but any special project throws things awry.

After I convinced my husband that Momma and son were not going to battle 'til death, the family left for the park, leaving Peter and me alone.

I stayed near the door for a bit to keep him from running down the street, shouting and chasing the van. Yes, his adrenalin can get that bad, but less often now that he's approaching ten.

After a time, he stopped shouting and collapsed in a post-adrenalin slump, exhausted.

But ready to talk.

Why doesn't Paul struggle with anger? How does he always controls himself? It's not fair! I hate ADHD! I'm worthless. And Paul hates me because I bully him. He only plays with me because I bug him, not because he loves me. I hate my life! I don't want to do these things, but I can't calm down!

First let me say, these two brothers compete furiously and have jealousies, but they love each other and need each other and in the end, they know they're blessed by brotherhood. They're best friends.

The real tragedy for an ADHD sufferer is the effect they have on others. Unfortunately, they annoy in a way that leaves family members living with a fingernail screeching down a chalkboard for hours a day. They can sense their effect on people, sometimes, but they can't stop. The slightest thing makes their emotions go awry and everyone is held captive. When they have a bad day on top of your bad day, you must refuse to engage, early on. You have to be perfect to handle it perfectly, and none of us fit that description. So life is messy.

Grace abounds, but sometimes we still hate that life is this messy.

When someone doesn't like their afflictions--and we all have afflictions--only one thing works. The power of story.

Every significant thing that happens to us from the time we leave the womb, makes up telling pieces of our story. The riveting plot always revolves around one thing.....sin.

Our parents sin in some way that scars us. We carry that scar--becoming a Christian doesn't always erase the effects of sin--to our own marriages, hoping to heal the wounds from our childhood, through each other.

It never works.

God can redeem the marriage and bless it, as he did my own, but deep hurts still bring hardship and pain through tragic turns in our story. They weaken and deplete us, making it harder to reach our ideals, even if we understand the hurts and forgive them.

The dysfunction continues in another generation to some extent, and coupled with that, illness and disease, both mental and physical, weave their way into our stories.

Who sinned the first sin to cause a particular family line to suffer?

Adam and Eve. No generation escapes.

Sound depressing?

It would be, except for God. God uses story. He redeems our stories for His glory.

How did I comfort my son? By telling someone else's story, including the part where God brings people to himself through someone's incredible suffering and faith. I told him the story of ten-year-old Eva who suffered cruelly at the hands of her father, who selfishly abandoned her. She nearly died a frightening AIDS death, alone.

Eva was rescued by Compassion workers from her child development center. Having learned her whereabouts, they hired an ambulance and took her to the hospital, where she spent three months slowly improving. The doctors agreed to let her go home.

Not long after, she died, professing Jesus as her Lord.

Eva contracted AIDS from her late birth mother. She didn't ask for that tragic beginning, and she didn't ask for all the illnesses she constantly battled. She didn't ask to be taken away from the Compassion workers, who showed her the only love she'd ever known. She didn't ask for a horrible father, or for horrible pain and poverty. She could have died cursing God.

But no, she rejoiced in Jesus. And at her grave, her father and others accepted Christ.

Suffering coupled with faith is God's greatest tool. For always, the two produce a good story. A heart-changing story.

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

God narrates the story for others at just the right time--when they can't stand their afflictions another day.

Peter sat in silence as I relayed Eva's story. He didn't move a muscle as I rocked with him and weaved the tale. He just listened. To everything. 

My son, if you could sail through life not having any challenges--and your brother Paul will have his in time, you can be sure--how would you convince people to follow God? What power would you have to change their hearts? Can you think of one thing you could say or do to change them at their core?

Ask for help and mercy and healing, but don't hate your story. It's the most valuable thing you have, as you seek to be your Lord's servant. Embrace it and say, "Yes, God, let it be for me as you say."

Luke 1:38
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

At the end Peter understood the power of story, because Eva's story was worse than his. He repented immediately, telling me how sorry he was for yelling and arguing and having fits. He appreciated his life again and knew he was blessed. Perspective worked its God miracle in his heart.

Someday, someone will listen to his story and it will be worse than theirs. And his faith will speak volumes.

Consider my servant Peter who struggled mightily. One thing after another worked against him and his life took heartbreaking turns which he couldn't change or predict.

But through it all, he loved MeHe professed me his King. His Redeemer. His Comforter. He sang me songs of praise. Consider my servant Peter, with whom I'm well pleased. 

If Peter could endure all that and still profess me as Lord and Savior, don't you want that same power in your life? Don't you need it?

Suffering coupled with faith. There's only one word for it


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