Sometimes I am just raw. Have you ever gotten to a place where you just didn't know how much more you could take? The part of you that withstands the storm has been worn down to the raw emotion of it all. You feel like one big wound; Another blast and you will begin to openly bleed.
That has been me this Christmas season. It has not been about my Savior or even Santa, but about survival. Obviously I've gotten off track. Derailed is more like it!
I know many of you are dealing with heavy burdens that make you feel this way. Financial pressures. Loss of a loved one. Today, I'm speaking directly to the mom's of children who have challenges. Overwhelming illness, autism, learning challenges, emotional trauma It's heavy to bear and frankly, for me? I have to admit to feeling powerless some days. You're probably sensing that I might have forgotten to get down on my knees as much as I needed to lately.
You'd be right. And I'm sure I'm not alone.
How many times do we see our challenges with our children in light of our control? Our power? Our authority? Our ability to change, heal, help? And we forget that we can't do all of that. Not with out Him who made us. This is my struggle. To constantly ask God for help. Then turn my back and say, "I got this.
I began writing this several weeks back in an absolute feeling of despair. Here is what I wrote:
Have you ever seen a child who's body looks 6 or 8 but whose comprehension of the world around them is about 3? And who's emotional quotient is more like 2? Have you ever watched your child get angry? All day? About EVERYTHING you say or do? And nothing you say or do will calm them. I live with 3 children who are all emotionally around 2 years old despite their chronological age.
And when their angry their words sting. They lash out at themselves and all around them. Threats of hurting themselves. Hitting themselves when they mess up. No correction, however small, goes calmly by.
I am worn thin.
If you have don't have children or if your child has never experienced any trauma in life, I'm sure you're thinking, "That sounds rough!" and while I'm glad for your empathy, it's the understanding eyes of another mother who is raising a child from a tough place where I find solace and understanding. It's so hard to explain this to someone who's never lived it. Like trying to tell someone who has never been in love what it's like.
I am swimming in helplessness.
That was me a couple weeks ago. And honestly, it was me a few minutes ago.
If you aren't familiar with the dance most foster and adoptive kids go through around holidays, it's quite a lively one. You see, for most of us, the holidays are chaotic and joyful. We remember Christmas's full of gifts, caroling, uncle so and so who drank to much egg nog, seeing cousins, drives to visit relatives, snow, church services with candles and beauty and pageants
So here are these kids, in a NEW family (even if they've been there for years) with these great memories of Christmas. But the kids don't quite have the memories this new family has. They may have the memory of being stuck in the trunk of the car while daddy and pregnant mommy got high up front. They may remember arrests due to domestic violence or shoplifting around the holidays.
And while every expects them to be joyful, because after all, isn't that what Christmas is all about, they don't feel terribly joyful. A part of them will always be in mourning for the loss of their birth family. How do you find joy in mourning when you don't understand why you lost in the first place? Anxiety abounds in this child who knows they are "supposed" to feel happy.
They don't feel very deserving of gifts because they don't see themselves as special, deserving, beautiful. They see themselves as ugly. Destructive. Bad. Why would Jesus give someone like them the gift of salvation much less that jolly man in the red suit or their new grandma give them gifts?
That thought just sucks the breath out of me like I was punched in the gut. They don't see themselves as worthy enough for gifts so how can they accept the gift of salvation?
So while you see a super hyper kid all excited for Christmas, we see anxiety, stomach aches, anger, lashing out, and tantrums that would make any toddler proud. And while I know the root, I forget the cause and survival kicks in.
I am worn out. And I do not like who I have become. Everyday I am braced for the storm. I am waiting for the winds to hit and I cannot wait until bedtime when I can send the children upstairs and have a bit of calm before tomorrow's storm. I am ready for battle.
But I have forgotten to battle for their hearts in the battle for my sanity. I have put on armor to protect my heart rather than putting on the armor of God in my hurry to protect myself from the latest onslaught.
I have met my husband at the door with lists of the days failures for the past weeks. I have met him crying in frustration. I have laid it all on his shoulders to solve. What a heavy burden for him to bear. To his credit, he has done admirably, stepping in as much as possible, ordering sets of DVDs by the worlds most recognized adoption guru, loving on me to help me cope.
I have lived this way since before Thanksgiving. It's been a long, exhausting fight. I know there are others out there who are living this way every holiday. Or maybe every day of every year. One friend said, for her? It's summer. 3 solid months of, "will this ever end?". I feel her pain. Literally.
Then we went to church last week end. Relaxed for the first time in weeks because grandparents came and gave us a night off, away, no kids for 24 glorious hours. ;)
I listened but more importantly I heard.
We were not at our church but visited Renovation Church in Atlanta, near where we spent the night. And the sermon was about Peace. More specifically God's Peace. "Well bring it on!" I thought. "I could use some of that!!"
One of the pastors, Leonce Crump, made the statement, "This world is a living tornado and the only thing pinning me to the ground is the peace of God." That described how I've felt about life except I've been trying be the thing that pinned myself to the ground and depending on my husband to grab me when the ropes came loose.
Now, I love the verse "This is the day that the lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it." I always use it to teach my children that it doesn't matter if their day is good, they should rejoice that God gave them the day. Somehow I forgot to listen to my own lesson! But I digress.
The teaching this morning centered on Philippians 4:4-7, "REJOICE in the Lord ALWAYS; again I will say, REJOICE. Let your reasonableness (gentleness) be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; DO NOT be anxious about ANYTHING, but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the PEACE OF GOD, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
Obviously the Bible isn't full of words in all caps and underlines, but those are the words that just jumped out and smacked me in the face. It's as if God KNEW I'd be at church there today. ;) He has that way doesn't He.
I have definitely not been rejoicing always. Nor have I been particularly gentle. As a matter of fact, I've been pretty hard and negative these past weeks. It's a natural human reaction, I know. But in forgetting to lay these burdens at the cross, I'd missed out on this free gift God has been offering all of us.
One of the pastors described it as a piece of God's character; A measure of Him. Man could I use that. I can picture Jesus pouring a measure of peace over me and it just dripping down like golden honey. Can you?
Jesus told his disciples, "Peace I leave with you; MY peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." John 14:27
Even if you don't have children like ours, you have your own burdens to bear. A friend suffering from cancer, a prodigal son or brother, a death you are mourning. What would having the same peace as Christ do for each of us?
In just hearing the message I find myself relaxing. It has given me breathing room and enabled me to push back the curtains of pain so that God's peace can begin to soothe my wounds. I know that I will still deal with the same behaviors tomorrow that I saw today. But I will lay that child at the feet of Jesus and be grateful that I am not in control. I cannot solve all their problems with a wave of my magic DVDs (although I love them!). I can take that peace God is offering and use it to pin me to the ground despite the whirling of my children's emotions.
I pray that you will ask God to do the same for you in whatever storm you are weathering.