Do you worry, dear reader friend? If so than sit with me a spell and let's work this out, spiritually speaking?
I've written several posts over the years about parents worrying over their children. They were written by necessity as I processed things in my own life. At times I'm gripped with fear about my sons' futures, and less often, about my daughters' futures.
Sons have to support families and in this recession-gripped economy it's becoming harder to make ends meet. Everywhere I see struggle, and even in traditionally safe fields, like education, it's becoming harder to secure permanent employment. A relative of mine earned a teaching credential 18 months ago and still struggles to get by on low-pay, high-hour positions while waiting for an open permanent position. She's not in a position to pack up and move to a state that boasts ample opportunities for teachers.
And this person has no mental or physical handicaps.
My older son has a few handicaps and my younger son has changed much in the past year. Always happy-go-lucky and independent in the past, he's become depressive at times and quite needy. It could be a lot of things, including that depression runs in both sides of the family.
As much as my heart has ached at this change in him, I still considered him fully job capable, until more recently when giddiness began to alternate with the depressive episodes. I haven't and won't say anything to him about what's happening to his personality, until he expresses a desire to know why he's so different.
Maybe it's hormones or that at about age 9, children began to notice the brokenness in the world and lose their child-like innocence. Having one's eyes opened to the sin condition and all that it entails, is depressing.
Growing up can be painful.
I feel that assigning a medical or psychological label to a child or an adult is counterproductive...unless they start to blame themselves for their struggles. When that point comes, it's kinder to educate them about the possibilities. Undiagnosed conditions can lead to powerful failure complexes.
My son has a cousin on both sides of the family with bipolar, which is characterized by depressive episodes alternating with giddy, euphoric, hyperactive episodes. When my son's giddiness comes I can't help but wonder about bipolar. And immediately, I panic and walk around in a daze, wondering how this can possibly be happening to us.
I haven't mentioned it to the pediatrician and I probably won't for a while. Right now I'm observing and praying and supporting, without revealing anything.
Two sons with very serious conditions? Conditions that are annoying for all and hard to live around? Why are we so cursed and will my sons find jobs that work with these issues? And will they blame God and will their faith weaken, as they try to make it in a very competitive world?
Their own father is also affected by depression and other difficulties and his work life has been profoundly impacted and we struggle. The spiritual benefits of the struggling have been great, so I'm not complaining. If God is going to make me more like Him, I'm happy to give him free reign over my circumstances. He knows what He's doing, yes?
Yes, yes and yes.
But do I want constant struggle for my sons and their wives and children...if they even get married? I don't know. That seems to go against natural parental feeling, though I know that every person struggles with something and I can't protect my children from the human condition.
But can you imagine why I want to run down the street sometimes, screaming: I can't believe this is happening!
My sons will probably have at least one child of their own similarly affected, because that's the way genes work; mental conditions are highly heritable.
I have a friend who has a son with severe OCD and a brother with schizophrenia. She grew up with this brother and saw him struggle as a child and adult. He only survives financially because of a subsidized apartment and disability benefits. While I don't begrudge him for this help, I certainly don't want that for my sons, and my friend feels the same about her own son. She wonders, will he be able to hold down a well-paying job, despite the five medications and the OCD that won't let up?
I have another friend whose 18-year-old daughter has ADHD, severe depression, cutting episodes, and anorexia nervosa. She tells me just waking her daughter up in the morning sucks the life out of her, it's so stressful.
What my friends and I need constant reminders of, and maybe you too, reader friend, if you worry about your children, is this:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
We worry whether our children will make it as adults...if they will be capable of caring for themselves as well as others. Will they know the joy of having a family? Will their spouse despise them for their difficulties, or will the spouse shower their lives with grace, reflecting Him? Will the spouse say I've had enough and leave, bringing the shame of divorce?
Our task as Christian mothers is to take each such thought and continually throw it in the garbage. These are not the Lord's thoughts. He doesn't see it our way...thinking about whether our children will experience success or not.
For what is success to the Lord? Another soul saved. Another moment of Glory revealed.
Scripture tells us how the Lord's glory shines. Through our weaknesses. 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.
For over 2000 years the world has been without the benefit of Jesus walking the earth, doing miracles and bringing people to himself personally.
He's been bringing people to himself spiritually, by revealing his existence and power through our weaknesses. We can tell someone about Jesus and sometimes that is enough, but more powerful is when our circumstances, our testimony, tells others about Jesus.
In the middle of the night last night when the worry and sadness felt paralyzing, He taught me anew. Your problem, dear woman, is your thoughts. Not your sons' difficulties.
Yes, yes, yes...of course. It's my way of seeing my circumstances and problems, not the circumstances or problems themselves.
Your sons' weaknesses are my opportunity to shine, He teaches.
Rejoice in that, can you, He asks me? Can you give me your life so fully that you learn to rejoice over My plans, even when they thrwart your human reasoning?
When we get to the end of ourselves, when we get to a despair that is so crippling we have to literally crawl to the throne of grace, we become useful. Yes, useful. God was working all the time to get us there, asking us to trust Him implicitly.
My sons? Their difficulties mean they will be more willing to crawl to that throne of grace over and over. When we view it that way, when we view it as the Lord does, are handicaps a weakness or a strength?
I'll leave you to ponder that.
And I pray that we all, as Christian mothers, crawl to the throne of grace readily so God can use us mightily in our children's lives.
Giving Thanks Today:
Thank you, Lord, for these blessings and graces:
~ For a husband who joyfully gives his time to each child.
~ For children who listen to my thoughts about the Lord.
~ For growing faith...trials don't allow faith to grow stagnant, thank the Lord.
~ For other mothers who share my burdens and understand.
~ For the throne of grace, always available, always beckoning.
~ For a Heavenly Father who gently pulls me back into his embrace and wisdom, even in the middle of the night.
~ For my 4-year-old daughter's endearing ways. I love age 4!
~ For sunshine.
~ For tulips coloring my world and fresh new leaves on the trees and brilliant green grass all around.
~ For my Mary's love and sweetness.
~ For my boys' bravery, trying to find their way in a confusing world.
~ For my boys' desire to have their friends come to faith.
~ For the sprinklings of grace that happen many times a day.
~ For that harmless snake from our backyard, bringing so much joy to my Peter. He marveled at the way that snake wrapped around his hand, as though an old friend.
~ For my son Paul's love of maps and geography and art. Relaxation for him is drawing up a new map or reading statistics about each state's characteristics. I thank the Lord my boy has passions that can still pull him away from darkness.
What are you thankful for today, my friend?