Saying Thank You For Adversity

I don’t like it when things are hard.  I’m not crazy about sleepless nights, they tend to make me lose my Christianity.  It’s frustrating when situations are so out of my control that my only option is to pray.  Sometimes that feels like an exercise in futility.

The last few weeks have been all of that and more.  After all the prayers and doctors, the kids aren’t much better, the situation hasn’t really changed.  Michael is still buried deep in his autism, waking up screaming sometimes at night.  William’s digestive system was diagnosed as collapsing closed in places, unable to process his food and the cause of his pain and discomfort and inability to sleep.  Gabriel is exhausted from everyone’s restlessness and is acting out, feeling his place as the unattended middle child.  I’ve had to make decisions I don’t like regarding therapy and school.  There were some days that spiritual war was so hard, I just held the baby and walked around the house praying, because I couldn’t do anything else, the oppression was so strong.

This is hard, and I’m tired.

And yet, somehow, God is moving in a way that I never imagined.

All the sleepless nights, all the physical trials, all the times my heart aches with all the troubles my kids face, I’m forced to pray like never before.  I am holding up my kids’ futures, their destinies, before God daily, waging a spiritual war I never would have if things were going well.  Let’s face it, we just pray differently in adversity.  I know that if all these problems were to disappear overnight, so would this intense time of prayer.  And I don’t know what it is about these boys, but I feel like I just need to move heaven and earth in prayer over them now about things that haven’t happened yet.

During a particularly rough patch, as I was praying over all of our issues and obstacles, I felt the Lord say, “Don’t you see?  I am answering your prayers.”  Nate and I have dedicated our children to God, we’ve prayed that they would be mightily used in His service, that they would be leaders and shakers in His kingdom.  And greatness was never achieved in a day.  It’s only ever come through hardship and victory over adversity.  So here’s the hardship.  Here’s the adversity.   We’re starting now.

And because God has shown me all this, I’m OK with what’s going on right now.  I’d seriously pay money to take a nap, but I’m OK with what’s going on.  This is my real job, this is me seeing eternity, and while I’m imperfect and may whine about how hard this is and how tired I am, this is what I was made for.

I asked God to deepen my relationship with Him.  I never pull this close in good times.

He’s answering prayers, and so I have to say thank you.

Acts of Grace

The last year has been a pretty tough one.  A few months ago I was finally able to put the word “depression” on what I felt.  I was having a hard time adjusting to three kids, and Gabriel’s needs and therapies had really ramped up in the months leading to William’s birth.  When Michael started homeschooling with a full time therapy schedule in the fall, I completely burned out.  I was so tired of spending entire days on the verge of tears or staring blankly at a wall.  A visit to the doctor confirmed my hormones were all over the stratosphere and making a rough time a whole lot darker.  It was getting hard to even take care of basic needs for my family, and I had to ask for help.

I was so blessed with what followed.  I seriously have the world’s best support system.  There is no way I could go through what I do without the network God has given me.  I have an amazing husband who runs an emotional buffer for me when he gets home in the evenings.  I have parents who babysit on a moment’s notice when Nate and I are starting to lose it and need to run out of the house.  I have literally the best in-laws in the whole entire world who learn everything the therapists teach and are totally involved with their grandchildren.  I have a church that embraces special needs kids, and women in my support group who will let me call them and pray any time I need it.  I have friends who still invite me to their houses, despite how much my kids’ struggle outside of their home environment.

This whole group kicked into action.  It was amazing.  People prayed for me, offered me help and babysitting.  No one minded that I slacked on extra duties.  A beautiful mom of a girl with Down’s Syndrome came to my house with hot food, let me cry, told me I was normal, and washed my dishes.  My mother-in-law sacrificed hours of time I knew she really didn’t have to help me get back on my feet with housework.  My dad started driving Michael to therapy, and my husband didn’t complain once that dinner was never ready when he got home.  I was so overwhelmed at how God provided when I really needed it, and boy, did I feel the love!

It’s been coming more and more often in little ways.  Strangers are gracious when we are out in public.  They don’t mind when my kids walk up to them and babble incoherently.  They smile and talk back.  They don’t stare when the boys start shrieking or acting bizarrely.  Cashiers are friendly and understanding when my kids struggle with boundaries in check out lines.  I didn’t get dirty looks when one of them peed on the floor in the middle of the craft store or broke down at church and flipped chairs for a half an hour.  One beautiful supermarket manager even distracted my kids once with little bottles of bubbles when a wrestling match broke out in a shopping cart that proved to be pretty deafening. 

I’m finding grace in so many places, and I just have to say thank you.  Thank you to my family, friends, and church who didn’t let me disappear through the cracks when I felt like I was sinking.  Thank you to all you strangers who give me random acts of kindness.  Thank you for holding doors open for me or helping me with a shopping cart when you see me juggling my rowdy crew.  I have no words; it means so much.  Thank you for giving me kindness when I probably wouldn’t have made it without.  I had prayed several months ago that God would really show me how much He loved me.  Life started to get awful soon after that prayer, but that’s when the grace and acts of love appeared. 

I’m getting help for my hormones, and I’m starting to have more good days than bad.  But I’m also grateful for the hard times because I have been able to see just how blessed I truly am.  It’s going to be a long road, but God has answered my prayers and poured on the love.  I only hope I can show how grateful I am one day and pay it forward.