The year also brought new disorders, old disorders worsening, dyslexia, a son's concussion, a worsening of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, a health scare, a two-ships-passing-in-the-night, special-needs-parenting marriage (with my 54-working hours husband also caring via phone 4-6 hours a week for his almost 92-year-old father).
I've learned that if another person is not personally struck by or exposed to a condition, they're likely to blame it on me and/or my parenting, so any support must be gathered carefully, such as through other special-needs moms, or I manage with the Lord's help only. Not that I should hide anything, but understand human nature in regards to judgement--and give thanks that as Christians, we grow in grace, not necessarily in goodness. Grace is beautiful.
Grace is a precursor to holiness in our lives. When we readily offer grace, we're saying we understand our own filthy conditions. It's hard, this humility, but it allows holiness to take up residence. My own pain and need for grace allows me to offer grace generously.
We'd hoped that when the thunderstorms passed for the year, Mary's anxiety would settle down, but now whenever she hears anything on the roof she thinks there's an ice storm that will cave our roof (I have a picture book to blame for that notion). When she hears an airplane she panics that we're being bombed. I haven't a clue where that notion came from. We don't have a TV signal so I read news online, without the kids around. The boys know a few details about the world's war issues, but the girls aren't around when we discuss it.
After AWANA on Sunday she vomited from anxiety because a couple families were sick and absent, so she worried about Ebola, which hasn't been discussed here in weeks. Her anxiety over her various worries will lead to one vomiting episode, after which she doesn't get sick again. The vomiting hasn't happened more than four or five times this year, but it's exhausting and stressful. Once anxiety starts--and I can never predict it--there's no talking her out of it, but she can be distracted by praise songs and special activities, for a time.
My twelve year old disorganized all our pictures on this computer, so as I shuffled through trying to sort the mess (all dates are off a year on the camera), the pictures didn't lie to me--yes, we still had smiles, along with our tears of frustration this year. Grace.
What is the value in tough years? What is my testimony of the year?
Our faith grew; we're learning to abide better. I understand better that my life, my children's lives, must be lived out as a sacrifice to a Holy God. We offer our years on the alter--our hopes, our fears, our idea of success. When we do that well, what we get in return is not disappointment, but joy and hope.
I'm sorry for Mary because crippling anxiety is ugly and fierce, but if it can serve the Lord, I say yes with an open hand. Not only does this mindset help me display compassion and hope for my daughter's sake, but it models for my children how God wants us to view our infirmities.
So, 2014, I'm not embittered by you. I thank you for the heart stretching. I thank you that we're finishing full of hope and assurance, full of love and abiding. Without you, it just wouldn't be.
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.