The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
This week I practiced a little bit of fear. What do I mean by that? Well, simply put, I let fear consume me. To the point where I was afraid to do anything, because I was afraid it would be the wrong thing.
You see, school has started and this time of year is a stressful thing. Lots to do, lots to think about, lots to get used to. And after a summer of relative rest, it can be a bit overwhelming. This week, I let that overwhelmingness, overwhelm me and it was no fun. No fun at all.
Then yesterday morning in church I was reminded of something, something big: I didn't receive a Spirit of fear, I received the Spirit of sonship. You see, I have the above verse etched in my mind and my heart, and I call it up every so often, but this week I forgot this all important truth:
I did not receive a Spirit that makes me a slave again to fear.
You might be asking yourself, what does that mean exactly. Well, to me it means one very precise and important thing. I don't have to be afraid. Of anything. Not of life. Not of death. Not of making mistakes. Not anything. Ever.
Why? Because I didn't receive a Spirit of fear, I received, in Jesus, the Spirit of sonship. The Spirit by which I can cry out to my God, my Father and know that I am cared for and safe.
What are your fears? Are they consuming you? Do they control you? Then stop letting them. Stop letting them consume you. They aren't of God and they aren't of faith. You see, having faith in God is the opposite of fear. When we have faith in God, we trust him. We believe his promises. We don't let our fears control us. We control them.
So whatever you're afraid of right now, leave it at our Good Father's feet. Trust that he is big enough to handle each and every one of your fears in his own time and in his own way. Above all, remember that we weren't meant to live in fear. Not anymore. Jesus paid the price so that we wouldn't have to let fear reign in our hearts or in our lives. Let your fears go and trust the One who fills you with faith not fears.
I wrote this when my daughter who was just four years old at the time, made a very profound comment - one that has stuck with me over the years. Hope this little story is helpful to you as you remember what it means to serve a God who is always "following us."
For the past week or so my daughter has been amazed and delighted by the fact that the sun is “following her”. At first I thought it was so cute and couldn’t help but smile at my amazingly, adorable daughter. Later on in the week I began to think about what she was saying and realized that my daughter could be a little philosopher. The sun is following her. Why, yes it is. And come to think of it, the sun is following me, too.
I must confess something here. Sometimes I doubt. Yes, you read it correctly, I doubt. Lately, these doubts have centered around the idea of what eternity will be like. In the last year or so, I’ve contemplated what it will be like to see God in heaven. After all, I’ll be only one of hundreds of thousands who may be entering the Pearly Gates on the exact same day, and possibly, well probably, at the exact same time.
Sobering thought when those of us who are believers think about running to God’s throne and being greeted with the best bear hug ever. So, how exactly will that work? If there are thousands of us dying at the same time, how in the world are we all going to fit on his lap?
I’ve confessed before that I am no theologian. But my tiny little theologian may be on to something. The sun follows her. Doesn’t matter who else it shines on or even on how many billions of people it is shining down on at the same moment. The sun shines on her. It follows her. It’s her sun. When I heard her make this comment for the third time in a week, it reminded me of a verse in Revelation.
Revelation 21:23 And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. (NLT)
I’ve heard this verse in the past and felt perplexed. What did it mean exactly when it said the Lord will be its sun? I always thought it meant that he is so radiant, we won’t need any other lights in heaven. But the profound statement from my daughter made me think about it a little differently. Maybe being in heaven is a little like being in the sun. It doesn’t matter how many billions of people are there. For each one, God shines on them, and it doesn’t in any way make it less true that he also shines on billions of others at the same time.
Do you get what I’m saying? I guess it could be looked at a little differently. Have you ever wondered how God dwells in each of our hearts at the same time? How can God’s Spirit live inside of me and the millions of others who call Christ, Savior and Lord? While I can’t explain it, I can testify to it. I know that God’s Spirit lives in me and just because he dwells in others' hearts, too, doesn’t take away from the fact that he loves me, he fills me, he follows me.
So maybe heaven is like that in a sense but on a more physical level. If God can dwell in our hearts, spiritually speaking, in this world, who’s to say that he can’t do something like that in a more “physical” way in heaven. Somehow God being God, I have to believe that he has no limits. So, maybe I don’t understand what it will be like to arrive in heaven, nor how I’m going to get “my turn” to sit on God’s lap. Guess some things have to be accepted by faith. But my little girl taught me something this week. When it comes to the sun, and to God, all things are possible.
. Ecclesiastes 4:12
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
On August 9th, my husband and I will be celebrating fifteen years of marriage. It's a milestone we've been looking forward to for some time. Unfortunately, no trips to Europe or Hawaii are planned, but we are excited to be here on the edge of fifteen years. Fifteen years of ups. Fifteen years of downs. Fifteen years of being there for one another and of being best friends.
I wish I had all kinds of wisdom to share about marriage and what it takes to make a good one. In some ways, I feel that my husband and I have been blessed with a good marriage that has not taken too much effort on our part. But I suppose if I think about it, there are some truths I've learned along the way, so indulge me while I share the lessons I've learned about marriage over this past decade and a half.
Number one, don't go to bed angry. The other night I did. What's more my husband did. When we woke up, we were still cranky towards one another. So much so that my husband was ready to leave the house for work at 6:30 that morning. Work on a Saturday? Yea, he was that mad. So we sat down and talked and talked about what went wrong and what we were upset about.
Talking things out was something my own parents weren't good about. I think in some ways, things just built up and were never discussed. That's something my husband and I have determined not to do - to keep silent when we're upset, to let the resentment build up. That's never a good idea. Over the years we've worked hard to communicate even about the hard things. It's not always easy to be honest, but I've found that when I share my side and let my husband share his, I come away with a little better understanding of where he's coming from and vice versa.
Number two, practice a little humility. A little humility, like admitting when you're wrong and even conceding when you're mostly in the right, is a good thing. The Bible says that the meek will inherit the earth and that when we humble ourselves God will lift us up. Sometimes it's more important to win the moment than to win the argument. What I mean by that is this. Winning the argument might make you feel better but it doesn't necessarily make your marriage a happy one. That's because, in a marriage, it's not so much about being right as it is about loving someone completely, with utter abandonment. Not so much thinking about yourself, but putting the other person's thoughts, feelings and ideas above your own.
Number three, always avoid the always and nevers of life. As in, "You never help around the house, or, "You always take the kids' side when we argue." My husband is the one who pointed out my tendency to use always and nevers early on in our marriage. It might be true that your spouse sometimes neglects to help with household responsibilities or sometimes seems to take the kids' side over yours, but is it really true that it is always the case? Using always and never statements just sets everybody up for failure. No one wins in always and never situations. So don't go there. Just don't.
Number four, make time for each other. In our marriage, I am often guilty of wanting to do my own thing rather than spend time with my husband. It is hard for me to set things aside to invest in our relationship. What's more, I tend to put the kids first before our marriage and that is backwards thinking. After all, if it weren't for this most important relationship in our house, the kids wouldn't even exist. So it only makes sense that we nurture and cherish our relationship first. It's kind of like how on an airplane they tell you, in case of an emergency, to secure your own oxygen mask first and then take care of your little ones. Nurturing the relationship and bond you have with your spouse can only serve to make you better parents. Our kids love that we love each other. They'd never admit it. They even act like our hugging and kissing grosses them out. But underneath it all, I'm pretty sure they are secure in the knowledge that their parents genuinely like each other and are still going strong after fifteen years.
Last but not least, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken. The verse I shared above was one of the scripture verses read at our wedding. I loved it then and still do. In fact the other day , I found a wall hanging with this very verse printed on it. It now hangs in our bedroom, and every morning I wake up to the reminder that this marriage isn't just about us. My husband and I aren't on this journey alone. God is part of it. He always has been and he always will be. The day we said our marriage vows, he was right there with us saying yes in the promises we made to each other. There's a lot of comfort in that knowledge, the knowledge that even when it seems things are unraveling a bit, God is there to keep our bond strong. So when all else fails, and I find that I'm breaking each of my own bits of wisdom as written above, there is something to be said about that third strand - a God who keeps our love alive and well. Not just now, but always.
Happy Anniversary to my best friend. I'm looking forward to many more years of an abundant and thriving marriage. Love to you always. Me.
My family has been out of town for the last couple of days and I must admit, the time to myself has been nice. I’ve been doing schoolwork, a necessary evil, taking time to go on walks, sleeping in a bit later and indulging in my favorite pastime, watching movies, specifically movies of the romance genre. These are the movies that the rest of my family scoffs at – ones that they won’t give me a moment’s peace over. So when I get the chance I probably overindulge. Here are some I’ve been watching: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, a fun little one called, Penelope, and a classic 90’s one, You’ve Got Mail. It’s been great to dust these gems off and revisit my favorite romantic scenes.
Then came last night. Last night, I felt like watching something new, something I hadn’t seen before. Since I’ve rented most of the movies I’ve watched, I felt it might be good to watch one that came with our Amazon Prime subscription. That’s when I noticed it, Me Before You – one I’ve passed over on previous occasions, thinking it sounded a bit cheesy. But after a moment’s thought, I decided, ‘What the heck.' It was free, and I could always turn it off if I didn’t care for it.
When the movie started, however, I was immediately hooked. This quirky little movie drew me in from the get go. It’s a story about a man who loses all mobility after being in a serious accident. When the movie opens, you see him in his “normal” life waking up to a beautiful girlfriend, on the phone making business decisions, seemingly in a top-of-the-world euphoric rush. Then as he steps out onto the street one morning, he is hit by an oncoming motorcycle. End scene.
Fast forward two years, and the man is now living with his parents in the annex of their house, in a state of complete disrepair and fighting demons daily; demons like depression, listlessness and hopelessness, not to mention an array of medical maladies.
Enter the cute, quirky, chatty girl who’s been hired to be a companion of sorts. From her fun sense of fashion, to her bubbly personality, she is everything he needs in a companion – someone to rouse him out of his stupor and bring him joy again. And that’s exactly what she does. At first, he resists her efforts to form a friendship and continually makes her life miserable. But day after day she comes back, ready to try again and, eventually, she brings him around.
She gets him out of the house. Takes him places, watches films with subtitles with him. In general, a warm and genuine friendship begins, and she basks in the idea that she has done her job. Until one day, she finds out something rather disturbing. She overhears his parents discussing the fact that this man has made plans to end his life by assisted suicide. As they talk, she learns that he has tried to commit suicide once already and has made a deal of sorts with them. He will give life six months more and then, if still unsatisfied, travel to Switzerland to end his life in a peaceful manner.
When the girl finds out, she determines to make him change his mind, to show him how beautiful life can be and that it’s worth living. Despite her best efforts, however, in the end, he does travel to Switzerland and end his life with his parents and the girl by his side. And though I’d enjoyed the film, as I described it to my husband later that night, I felt thoroughly unsatisfied with the ending. I tried to account for that, and here’s what I came up with.
Suicide was something I contemplated for years before I was diagnosed. I write more about it in my post, ‘This is called the I wish I didn’t have to write this post.’ In short, I lived in a pool of misery and despondency for many years. But though I contemplated it on more than one occasion, there was never a moment when I went through with it. There’s a reason for that, and it has to do with more than the dogmatic thinking that committing suicide is like committing murder. It has to do with three things that remain despite the most difficult of circumstances we may face in this life.
1 Corinthians 13:13 New International Version (NIV)
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
See I believe as the Bible teaches that though all else should pass away in this life, three things remain: faith, hope and love. Faith to get us through the dark times, hope that our life will not just be one long, wretched day of misery. And most importantly of all, love – the love of our Heavenly Father who sees in any type of darkness and provides a shining light to guide us out of it. Faith, hope and love. These things remain.
Back then, when I wanted so desperately to end the pain of my existence, these three things kept me going. I think more than anything else when times were tough, I believed that things would get better. What’s more, I wanted to finish this race of life, not quit early, because there was a stitch in my side and I was gasping for every breath.
Watching the movie, what troubled me was that in this case, hope didn’t win out, faith didn’t win out, love didn’t win out. That’s why at the end of a movie that in all other aspects was well done, I felt wholly unsatisfied.
God is a God of hope. He is a God who knows every moment of our life, a God who has a plan for the dark times we go through. He understands our suffering. He understands how desperately we wish the pain would end. He understands and more importantly, he cares.
Life is difficult. It can be dark, and cold, and sad, but there is joy even amid the darkness. Believe that because it’s true. Finish the race you were meant to run. You will encounter steep hills, long, tireless days, and moments when you just want to be done, but press on. Press on trusting in the three things that will remain: faith, hope, and love.
Patient: steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity (Merriam Webster)
The other day, my husband and I were sitting around talking with some friends, when I overheard him giving me a compliment. He said, "You know, my wife has the patience of a saint." When I heard him say this, my ears perked up. It was a shining moment for me. 'Wow,' I thought, he really thinks highly of me.' Then I heard the second part of his statement and my heart fell. Unfortunately, his compliment was attached to some strings. He went on to tell a tale that I am not overly proud of. One, in all honesty, I'd rather forget. But as always, my blog is a place I choose to be real, so here is a story of a time when I was anything but patient with my kiddos.
It's quite shocking really. It was a Monday and my daughter had been ultra moody with me all weekend. She'd been quite hurtful saying some not very nice things and just being a stinker all together. So the next day, when my son and I got into an argument, I sort of lost my cool. Walking away from him, I muttered under my breath, "Sometimes I hate having kids. They suck all the joy out of life." Thinking he was in the other room and not paying any attention to me, I proceeded to carry on with my day.
Unfortunately, my son had heard every word. You have to understand that he has a very sensitive nature, so for him to hear his mother say that he was sucking all the joy out of her life was pretty devastating. I didn't know at first that he had overheard me, but later my husband took me aside and informed me that our son was pretty upset. At that point, I was still pretty angry. Rather than being repentant, I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Well they do suck all the joy out of life sometimes." What's more, when my husband tried to smooth things over between myself and my son, I repeated my assertion.
Once I'd cooled down, I searched out my son and explained why I was feeling this way. I told him that, as a parent, I sometimes grow weary of dealing with the same issues day in and day out. Issues that never seem to be completely resolved or go away. It makes me feel so tired and weary, and it does feel as though parenting brings more pain than joy at times.
I once said that I never understood God half so well as before I had kids. Kids are tough. They just are and in the midst of the yuckiness of raising two near teenagers there are days when I just think to myself, "And how much longer do I have to put up with these two?" I wonder sometimes, if God ever mutters those same sentiments. Oh, I know God is the definition of patience. I believe that firmly. But surely there must be times when he gets tired of all the messes we as humans manage to make on this earth.
I'm grateful that our God is a long-suffering God - One who is able to love us steadfastly despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity. Quite frankly, knowing that God is abundantly patient with me makes me a better parent. It helps me to remember to be patient with my own kiddos, love them and hang in there with them - even on days when it feels like they've "sucked all the joy out of life."
Seriously, though, love your kiddos. Be patient with them the way God is with you. Remember how kind, good and forgiving he's been with you and model that love for your own little ones. There's not a better way to parent than to follow God's example of patience - patience that lasts despite every circumstance. May we love our kiddos as much as God loves us. Amen and Amen.
The other night my daughter and I were lying in bed cuddling when, for some reason, the Star Spangled Banner came up as a topic of discussion. I asked my daughter if she knew the lyrics to it. When she nodded her head no, I proceeded to sing it. Not very well, mind you, but I wanted her to know how important that song is, so I did my best.
She joined in when she could and we finished the song together. While my rendition wasn't pretty, I still got a little choked up as I thought about what it means to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I don't know about you, but I take this great country we live in and all the freedoms we enjoy every day for granted. I don't often think about the thousands upon thousands whose blood has been spilled in my defense, in our country's defense.
There are many troubling and disturbing events taking place in our nation right now. While I could go into the politics of who did what and why and how, I'm afraid I'd be missing the point.
The truth is our country has faced many troubled times in its storied history. For two-hundred forty years this nation has seen its share of ups and downs. And while America is often called a great nation, it seems like we, as petulant children, have forgotten how truly great it is - what it means to be both free and brave.
Maybe we need to go back to the basics, to the days when America was an infant nation - still fighting for complete independence.
In 1814, Francis Scott Key penned the words of our national anthem as a poem. At the time he wrote the Star Spangled Banner, Key was in Baltimore negotiating the release of a Dr. William Beanes who was a British Prisoner of War. Key was able to negotiate Beanes' release, but the Brits refused to surrender their prisoners of war because they were in the midst of an attack against nearby Fort McHenry.
Fort McHenry was attacked with powerful weaponry and merciless barraging. Due to lack of sophisticated ammunition and weapons, the Americans were unable to fight back. All they could do was "hold the fort" and hope for the miraculous. Throughout the night, Key anxiously watched to see whether his beloved Stars and Stripes had been replaced by the Union Jack. It was during these tense and trying hours that Key penned what would become the nation's anthem.
Finally, their twenty-four hours of bombardment ended in an unsuccessful attempt by England's finest. They were unable to capture Fort McHenry. The Brits withdrew and Key was surely overjoyed when, by the dawn's early light, the flag he loved so much was still gallantly streaming.
Do we love our country as much as our founding fathers did? Do we appreciate all that is beautiful about being an American? Those who planted the seeds that became our democracy fought because they weren't free. They fought because they wanted something better for the country they called home. In their struggles, they earned the right to pass on to us this gift of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
America is not perfect, but it is still pretty great. Francis Scott Key thought so. Our founding fathers did, too. And the many men and women over the years who have defended our country to their very last breath believed in this country, too. May we not dishonor their memory by giving up when there are so many important things to fight for.
We as Americans have inherited a legacy of what it means to be both brave and free. I pray to God we pass this legacy untarnished to those who will someday inherit this great country we call home.
The Star Spangled Banner
by Francis Scott Key
Oh say can you see,
By the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed,
At the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched,
Were so gallantly streaming.
And thy rocket's red glare,
Thy bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through thee night,
That our flag was still there.
Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.
An oldie I'm posting in honor of Father's Day. This was originally posted on my craziness uncensored blog back in the day when I was a stay-at-home mom. Parenting is not for wimps as my husband and I always say, but take heart, it isn't always about being perfect, it's about being a problem solver. Happy Father's Day!
I am extremely frustrated with my kids. Yea, I know I’m preaching to the choir, but there it is, and I’m not going to sugar coat anything. They are driving me crazy. And it’s not the crazy that comes from being bipolar. At least there’s a drug for that kind of crazy.
My husband and I have been parents for almost eight years now—boy and girl. I remember, especially with our son, getting ready to leave the hospital, scared to death and having no idea what we were getting into. I kept waiting for the nurse to come in and deliver the manual—you know, the one that tells you everything you need to know about raising your child. Well, they didn’t bring it and that’s when I got the first clue that being a parent was going to be anything but easy.
So in honor of my frustration, I’m choosing to tell you a few things about why my kiddos are driving me nuts these days. Yes, I know exposing all of the Meyer children’s misbehavior sets us up for worst parents of the year award. But let’s go there anyway.
Things that drive me crazy when it comes to being a parent:
1) My daughter still wears “night-night” underwear. She’s five. And in kindergarten. I know that many older children struggle with wetting their beds, but here’s the problem with the whole scenario. A couple of times we’ve caught her going in that pull-up when she’s wide awake. What the heck? There is at least one positive spin to this problem. As my husband points out, wearing “night-night” underwear when she’s a teenager will definitely limit her dating life.
2) Here’s another one, the kids will be playing quietly or having some screen time when ring, ring, ring someone calls. I kid you not, within seconds of being on the phone, my kids go from playing quietly to arguing and shouting at the top of their lungs. Worse yet, when I lock the door to my safe haven, the bathroom, they pull the old bang on the door thing Bam! Bam! Bam! like there’s an urgent matter that needs to be addressed.
3) This leads me to number three. Our kids have way too much screen time. I know I have no one to blame but myself, but every time I attempt to limit or take screen time away, they start driving me crazy. It’s then that I remember why I let them have screen time in the first place.
4) I hate being judged. In public. Like people staring at you as your toddler plays the best trick ever—magically becoming a wet noodle during one of her worst tantrums—making it impossible to carry the stinker out without making a huge commotion.
5) The seemingly constant arguing and bickering. My kids can be calmly and quietly playing together, even having fun, when the situation suddenly turns on a dime. Chaos ensues and I have no idea where I put the spanking spoon. Just kidding. Kind of.
6) There are no easy answers. You know I joked about the hospital giving out manuals. Well, in a lot of ways, I wish they would, because these days it feels like I need one more than ever.
I am going to be serious for just a moment here, people. Parenting isn’t easy. I’m not perfect. The kids aren’t perfect. In fact, there is no such thing as the perfect parent. And anyone who tells you otherwise is just plain delusional. When it comes to parenting, there are no easy answers. Each child is special and unique and what works for one kid, doesn’t necessarily work for the other.
Perfect parenting, there’s no such thing. But problem-solving-parenthood—like admitting mistakes and moving on, or giving yourself grace when you feel you’ve royally screwed up. Yea, I’ll take that kind of parenting nine days out of ten. (Actually I’ll take it all ten days.) Even if problem-solving-parenthood isn’t in the instruction manual, I’ll take it. But seriously, are hospitals really not handing those things out yet because, honestly, I would pay top dollar for that.
2 Timothy 1:5
I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
Today is Mother's Day and while I'm celebrating my own experiences as a mother, I'm also reminiscing about my own mother and the influence she had on my life. My mom was a great woman. She wasn't perfect but she was a true role model to me and the one who pointed the way to Jesus for me.
She had this saying, "The Good Lord is taking care of me," that admittedly when I was younger, used to drive me kind of bonkers. It just seemed too simplistic for my advanced tastes, but now I see how much wisdom and faith was packed into those words. Watching my mom handle of all life's adversities with grace and courage influenced me in more ways than I can tell. In many ways, it made me the person I am. I am so extremely thankful to my mother for the heritage of faith she passed on to me.
Today in church, we had a baptism and the pastor made the comment about how we as parents have a responsibility to raise our children up to know Jesus, to place the Scriptures into their hands, to point them to the grace of God, to bring them to church and to raise them up to live a life of faith. My mom didn't do those things perfectly, but she did them pretty darn well and I am thankful to have received the gift of a mother who brought me to Jesus at an early age.
I still recall being in church as a little one, sitting on a hard pew, wondering why it was so boring and hard to pay attention. One Sunday was different, though and still stands out to me to this day. It was during prayers that seemed to be unbearably long that I glanced around at my family, and that's when I noticed the look on my mom's face. I can't really explain it, but there was so much peace there and I just knew from that moment on that God was real and that I could experience the kind of peace with him that my mom was experiencing.
My mom is gone now. I still recall the awful way we lost her to kidney disease. The days she was on hospice are ones I'd rather forget. The last time I saw her when she was barely able to talk, I recall kissing her goodbye and telling her I'd see her next weekend. At that moment, she had this look on her face as of she wanted to tell me something, I often wonder if she was saying goodbye. When she passed I could barely imagine life without her. But whenever I would feel overwhelming sadness, there was also this great sense of peace, a peace that came from knowing she was happy and was no longer suffering.
Fast forward and though my mom is gone, I have another special woman in my life who is like a mother to me. She has taught me so much about grace and unconditional love, my mother-in-law is a very special woman. Though I'm an adult now, she also is an example to me of the goodness of God and the importance of living in his goodness and forgiveness each and every day.
Mothers, is there any better gift we can leave our children with than the gift of faith? I hope you remember your own mothers with fondness today and that if you have the privilege of being a mom, you see what a gift it is to fan into flame the faith of our children. Happy Mother's Day!
This past week, my family had an emergency of sorts that surrounded my son. He struggles with an anxiety disorder and depression and without going into gory details, he hit rock bottom this week and we had to watch him struggle and sink. In a word, it was heartbreaking. In many ways, my mind and emotions are still reeling from it.
It’s bad enough that I struggle, but to watch my son face some of the challenges that I face? It’s almost more than I can bear. I feel guilty, despondent. It’s funny how when someone you love faces something difficult, it almost hurts worse than when you yourself face it. Especially if that someone is your child.
Struggles with mental health are nothing new for him. Early on, he struggled with anxiety to an extreme. It had to do over being able to fall asleep. Something we all may struggle with at one time or another, but for him it was intensely magnified. He would pace the floor and cry and just couldn’t be consoled. That’s how we knew he needed more help than we could give. That’s when we reached out and got help from a professional.
It was hard. Getting him help for this area of life. Even though I am open and honest about my mental illness, it’s different with my son. He’s more vulnerable and I feel like I need to protect him. But if we just left him to drown in his anxiety was that really the right thing to do?
And the funny thing is, if it was any other childhood disease I wouldn’t bat at eye at getting him whatever medical help he needed. If he was diabetic, of course we’d put him on insulin. And I know better than to question if mental illness is a biological illness. I believe firmly, it’s a disorder of the body as much as anything else, but still the shame, the fear, they haunt me.
Fast forward to present day and he’s still struggling, and we as his family have been on this roller coaster ride with him and it’s been heart wrenching. I wish there was something we could give and it would immediately do the trick, but treating a mental disease is so different from treating other diseases. It’s so trial and error. And my son is the victim of all that wreaks havoc in a person’s life when they have to just bear up under their struggles while medications and dosages are adjusted.
The worst part? I don’t feel at times that I can be honest about this struggle our family faces. I want to protect him. Want to protect us. If my child had cancer, I would reach out and ask for prayer and get all of that and more. Why am I trying to go it alone in this? It’s in a word, stigma. There is still so much that surrounds this unknown part of a person’s health. I know stigma still exists, and so sometimes I am tempted to keep my mouth shut, rather than reach out and share.
But I know ours isn’t the only family that struggles with a child who has a mental disorder, so for all of our sakes, I decided to post on this this week. I asked my son for permission. I checked it with my husband. When they gave me the go ahead, I took a deep breath and dove in to write this. It’s because I want us to band together as families and not hide our struggles in the dark. Let’s break the stigma and get our little ones the help they need. Let’s be there for them and for one another. We are stronger when we stand together. Amen.
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. To spread the light of liberty world-wide for every land.
Last Sunday night, I was watching a segment on Sixty Minutes which really touched a nerve, not to mention my heart. It had to do with lynchings in the deep, and sometimes not so deep south. Lynchings that occurred post- civil war era all the way through decades of desegregation. It made my stomach turn to hear the gory details—the details of women being strung up if their husbands couldn’t be found, of children being doused in gasoline and then burned to death, of white children looking on with their parents and learning to accept that because some people look different they somehow deserved this.
It made me sick. Pure and simple. Sick. I don’t often get passionate about many things, but I feel a need to step on a soap box today. So, you’ll have to bear with me while I do this.
The man who was telling these stories is building a memorial to those many, many people who were so brutally murdered and denied justice in so many ways. He made this point, we can’t heal from our past until we learn to face it and deal with it. In other words, slavery, lynchings – seemingly matters of the past, still resonate within our nations walls today.
Who we are as a nation is seen every day in the way we treat all of our citizens, every single one. This doesn’t have to be a racism issue, but I can’t help but feel that the promise of freedom doesn’t ring true for all Americans - not all of our huddle masses who are yearning to breathe free have that promise fulfilled. And if experience has taught me anything it's this - America can never be truly great as a nation until we face the past, deal with it, learn from it and then, and only then, can we be set free from it.
Racism lives on today. It does and to say that it doesn’t is simply a lie.
So where does the healing begin? When we reach out and give a hand up to someone who doesn’t have the ability to stand up for themselves. And it starts with education. I’m a teacher and one of the reasons I educate is because I believe in the power of education. It can set hearts, minds and spirits free. Children stuck in cycles of poverty and injustice deserve the best resources a school district has to offer, but it seems to me that all too often the schools that need the best of our resources are given the leftovers. Let's work to change that. Let’s offer those children stuck in cycles of poverty and, in many cases, chaos, a hand up. Let’s give them our best to enable them to be all they were meant to be.
Finally, let’s not dwell on the past. But let’s learn from it, so that healing across our nation can truly begin.