Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Real Reason for Discouragement

After a particularly hard week with too little sleep and too much turmoil, I had nothing left.

Just. nothing.

Most days I'd gone to bed utterly discouraged, feeling guilty that as a parent and wife, I was out of patience and ideas and grace. The stresses of my son's mental illness depleted my hope for the future, or even for the next day. Aggravating it was my sleep deprivation, hormones, and financial stress. Just like everyone else, I had multiple problems.

Pining for heaven, I understood once again what it meant to be broken. It's hard to grasp, isn't it, that the Lord wants us broken? Christianity can be a pretty hard sell.

Hey everyone...become a Christian so you can identify with Jesus' suffering in your daily life. Grace is a beautiful Christian word, but can suffering be beautiful? When witnessing to people we leave that detail out in favor of the enticing parts, like peace and joy and hope.

I became a Christian at age 31, but it wasn't until I lost my first child at 20 weeks gestation that brokenness entered my consciousness  I was 34 and it was the first time I'd wanted the Lord to take me home.

Three of my children tell me they don't want to go to heaven yet; they want to grow up and have families. Already they understand that the best part of an earthly life is loving and being loved, in the context of family. They know intellectually that heaven is better than marriage and kids, but they still can't imagine foregoing these perks of being human.

Peter alone perhaps, due to his OCD, knows what brokenness feels like. Inasmuch as his condition is a tragedy, understanding brokenness at an early age is a gift. It clarifies early that it's not about us. We aren't supposed to wake up each day expecting a smooth transition through the hours. We can't jump from one self-indulging ritual after another, expecting low resistance to our selfishness.

Instead, each day begs for self-denial. Joy does exist in self-denial, in following Christ, in embracing the messiness of life, but it's not a worldly joy.

John 14:27 tells us: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

I would have to describe the peace He gives as the best kind of fellowship we can ever experience. The peace He gives is a taste of heavenly joy. Peace is to be filled with His love. Family love is wholly insufficient for our souls. It will always leave us wanting, searching. Though beautiful and a gift from God, a healthy family can't be all that we hope for or pursue.

Our souls crave Him. He conceived and designed our souls and only He can fill them.

The Holy Spirit reminded me this week that my exhaustion and emptiness weren't actually because of OCD or ADHD or hormones or sleep deprivation or economic insufficiency, although they certainly made a compelling argument and defense.

The real source was too little time with Peace the Person...with the Lord my God, who promises to quiet me by his love.

I went to the Lord and read about his truth, his love, his faithfulness, his majesty, his grace, his love...and I was filled to overflowing, ready to dig deep for the patience, grace and love my family and community need from me. We give to others out of the abundance we receive from the Lord. If you're empty, it's because you're not filled. It's obvious, but also easy to forget.

These three gifts--peace, joy, hope--are not a mirage or a sham, but neither are they automatic.

Christ died for us so we could have life--so He could enjoy relationship with us. Believing on Him is our ticket to heaven, but not necessarily our ticket to peace, joy, and hope. Those come from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ--a relationship that is ongoing. They come from bathing in His Word, from crying out to Him in prayer, from worshiping him through song and from a quiet and receptive heart.

Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.


Anonymous said...

Amen. I often think of you and wonder how you're all doing. I fully understand the impact a constantly anxious child can have, especially one for whom your reassurance has little effect. It is so draining, not to mention heartbreaking.
I sometimes write about brokenness on my blog. It's not a subject people like to think about, but I think it's vital, even though it makes little sense to my (limited and human) mind.
Praying for you all. It is a privilege to know you, even if it is just online, and a privilege to be able to bring you and your family to the Lord in prayer.
Sandy xxx

Christine said...

Yes, draining and heartbreaking--no truer words to describe rearing children will special needs. It is a daily giving it over to God, or drowning in despair! Thank you for your prayers and support!