Monday, March 24, 2014

Understanding God's Ways

Daily I'm confronted with two wayward souls, never satisfied, always pining for that one thing they perceive to be the answer. For one, it's living in the west where the weather is good, and having more money. For another, it's the perfect pet and money for all his hobbies--gardening, nature observation, nature experiments. Now that he has a dog, he thinks a bearded dragon lizard is the answer (today, anyway). The dog was supposed to be the end-all and completely satisfy his soul, though I warned as I do almost daily, that only the Lord satisfies the soul's longings. 

These beloved men in my life want that to be true for them, but the brain chemicals aren't listening and none of us know what to do. Lecturing about what's important in life is definitely not working. In fact, it only leads to more frustration because the control is not there.

And I'll say again, I don't know the answer. Both of them have stellar, well-balanced diets--the best diets in the family, partially because there are few things they don't like. So food is probably not the brain-chemical culprit, but I'm praying that God reveals any solution to me, whether it's the hormones in the meat we're sold, or the pesticides in the produce we're sold. Anything. I'm desperate for improvement in our daily life.

While working in the church nursery today, I cared for a two-year-old boy who is the grandson of my good friend--the good friend who had to give her 15-year-old son over to the State because he became too dangerous and defiant for her to manage, after her husband's death ten years ago. Her son had it all--ADHD, OCD, Tourette's, anxiety, autism, bipolar. She had triplets--two girls and a boy--and all of them have problems, her son being the worst off behaviorally. One of the triplets is a dear soul, who at the age of 21 is like a four-year-old child, though extremely calm and serene (the doctors told my friend to pull the plug on this one-pound baby, who would never amount to anything because of the stroke she suffered early). Another of the triplets goes to college, but has learning disabilities, mild cerebral palsy, mild OCD, and ADHD.

I love my friend and deeply admire that she's still standing, after having absorbed more of the sin curse than most of us could even fathom. Her triplets were born after three miscarriages. Besides the child-bearing difficulties, she has disorders of her own, and she grew up with a mentally unstable mother. Later, in her mid-forties, she was left a widow to care for four children alone, three of whom were equal to at least seven children, emotionally and physically (they all had seizures for years).

To say the two-year-old grandson is a handful is putting it lightly (the son of her non-triplet daughter). He engaged with the new-to-him toys in the nursery for 15 minutes, then kept us on our toes for the next 80 minutes, with defiance, hyperactivity, and destructiveness. We've cared for lots of two-year-old boys, but none like this.

As soon as my family was safe in our van after church, my tears flowed. I held in my shock well, but I couldn't any longer. How could God plague another generation of this dear family with mental/neurological disorders? Hasn't the family endured enough? Must the terrible, inheritable conditions of the brain keep on going?

Where is the grace in that? Where is the relief? Only that my friend is still standing and breathing? I imagine it's incredibly hard to watch her adult daughter struggle so with her son--much like my friend struggled with her own son at this age.

I tried so hard all day to understand God, even as I stared at the hole my own son put in his wall during the hellish week we endured (Strattera was increased to 18 mg five weeks ago, which needs to be taken back down to 10 mg to stop this anger side-effect) .

At the end of the day, emotionally exhausted, I came to a conclusion.

The sin curse is not equally represented in every household. In households with everyday struggles, rather than monumental struggles, it's easy to fall prey to judgement and puff up with pride.

Well, if only those other people had better nutrition, or didn't take drugs during pregnancy, or exercised their kids more, or cut out dairy, gluten, and sugar, and took away the TV more...blah, blah, blah. If only they were more responsible, they wouldn't have to live like that.

Our minds easily fall into judgement and pride as we try to understand the depth of human suffering around us. Placing blame somehow makes it easier to comprehend?

What is God asking of us? What does he expect from those who have it relatively easy? What does he expect from those who have the sin curse weighing on them so heavily, they can barely stand up?

Some of what God wants is the same for both parties:

~ Give thanks in all things.

~ Judge not, lest you be judged.

~ Don't grow weary in doing good.

~ Fight the good fight of the faith.

~ Be holy, as I am holy.

~ Remain in Me as I also remain in you.

~ Love your neighbor.

But more is required from some.

Luke 12:48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Just as God expects the rich to help the poor, he expects the mentally-fortunate to help the mentally-unfortunate. Usually, mentally-unfortunate people are poor. Their poverty stems from many causes, not the least of which are mental deficits.

Poverty has other, less-serious causes, too. Sometimes, people just haven't had a break from generational poverty--no opportunities, nutrition, education, hope--like with our Compassion children, but their mental potential is great. They just need a boost to get jump-started.

But in many other cases, even with a jump-start, there are mental conditions that must be endured for a lifetime, that will hold a person back, depending on the severity. Modern medicine helps with some mental conditions, but medical progress has been slowest, it seems, in the area of mental illness. Understandably, the brain is hardest to understand and alter. We have great strides to make in the world, in terms of understanding and treating mental illness.

If your family is free of mental illness, reach out. Share your wholeness with those who are less whole.

~ Prayer is the most important thing you can do. Pray for daily grace, healing, stamina.

~ Be cautious and pray for wisdom before you help, so that when you act, you are truly helping.

~ Offer to lighten the load in some way.

~ Be brave and non-judgmental. When we judge, it is really our own cowardice coming through. We have to seek to understand, and that takes patience and courage.

~ Sponsor a child and write to him or her, so you can stop the cycle of poverty. Speak life into your sponsor child's heart through your letters. Sponsoring a child is orphan prevention. Lack of hope is a terrible thing, leading to terrible outcomes, both mentally and physically. Stop that in its tracks. Change a life, a family, a neighborhood, a village, by sponsoring one child.

In my searching of God's heart, I remembered something Big.

I think God reconciles the hurt in the world by knowing what's coming. Judgement Day. We serve a just God, though we can't always see it right now. We will be held accountable for how we handled the gifts he allowed in our life--whether they be mental gifts, spiritual gifts, monetary gifts. We all have gifts, and we are called to use them for the Glory of God. We can't bury them in the sand, hoping they'll bare fruit and multiple.

So don't just feel fortunate if your life is better than some. Do something about it. Take on more of the weight of the sin curse by loving your suffering neighbor. No, I don't mean enabling them. If you suspect drug or alcohol abuse, pray hard and tread carefully. You can research how drug and alcohol rehabs are paid for, what insurances they take, make a list of some in your area, and then give that information. And pray that God pushes them to the edge, so they can see the light.

Look for opportunities to bless. Pray for opportunities to bless. Read Scripture so you are filled to overflowing, equipped to bless. And then act accordingly. 

I don't know what God will do on the last day. I don't know how crowns in Heaven are given out, and to whom, but I know what I want Him to say to me when my time has come.

"Well done, good and faithful servant."

I want to honor Him with my life, not wasting a second of the Gift.

Note: My husband never minds if I write about him, for if someone is helped, he is glad. He isn't a blog reader and prefers people interaction to quiet reflection, but he understands my need to write out my pain and path. 

My son, however, is coming upon an age where he may begin to care, so even though this is an anonymous blog, I should remain silent going forward. But please, we always covet your prayers, whether I speak of the hard fight nor not. Thank you and bless you, and let us know if you need prayer. 


Anonymous said...

You are now on my prayer list. It is a privilege.

Christine said...

Thank you, Sandy. I very much appreciate your prayers.