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.