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Just Keep THAT Door Closed!

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Just keep THAT door closed!

 

     Recently, I received a word from God about something I could do that would guard my heart from the destructive temptation to surrender to the pain of being separated from my son, daughter in law, and grandchildren. 

Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded. Proverbs 13:13

    When I think of my grandson who is almost 2, who hardly knows me, and of my grandchild due in March, who will be about 5 months old when I get to hold him/her for the very first time, or when I think of how much of my son’s life and accomplishments I am missing out on because of the vast distance between us, or being denied the pleasure of watching my daughter in law’s expanding frame as my grandchild develops within her. . . Well, honestly it’s a bit overwhelming and it becomes a gigantic struggle to squelch the emotion I feel rising within me.

     That’s when God had me make a mental picture like the one above and imagine that all those emotions reside behind that door. When thoughts enter my mind that would tempt me to open that door, He whispers something like:

“If you open that door and surrender to those emotions just know they will destroy you and create burdens for your son that you would not want him to have to bear. It will be healthier for you to keep that door closed. I had to give up my son, too, so I know of the intense pain you are suffering. Allow my understanding to be your comfort, for my grace will always be enough and sufficient.”

     Just think about it.

     What would be the end result if I allowed those emotions to have sway in my life? I would become a miserable person and likely I would begin to move away from God. Eventually, I might even harbor a growing resentment toward God for taking my son away from me. 

Nope, that’s not for me.

     In Jeremiah 29:11 God reassures me that He has good plans for my life. It is my full intention to revere God’s word and to cooperate with Him as He works out those good plans. I desire to walk this path successfully He has chosen and prepared for me. Proving to all who have reason to notice, that living life according to God’s plan is the very best kind of life to live!

 

    

The Gift of Understanding!

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Note the AT badge on my jacket!

A few years ago, my son was preparing to through-hike the Appalachain Trail.  As his mom, this feat was not so easy to accept mainly because this was to be a solo hike.  My son had been in training for this event several months prior to setting out.  He had researched it thoroughly and interviewed others he knew who had completed this hike.  Believe me, he was as prepared as he could be.  Therefore, because of the mature manner in which he approached this adventure and by God’s grace, I finally reached the point where I was able to trust God to guide and protect my young adventurer!

I was comforted by the fact that I was going to be his contact person and while he was to stop now and then to resupply, I would be sending him his maps and various other items he would be requesting along the way.  This way I would be maintaining contact with him and  thus would be alert to his well being.

However, the night before he was to board a plane for Maine (where he began the trek) he shared some startling news with me. In 2 years time, he would be traveling to Peru where he would be serving as a missionary in the Amazon jungle, should God continue to lead him in this pursuit.

I went to bed that night with a heavy heart, not quite understanding what God had just done to me.  For quite some time now He had been preparing me to release Bobby to walk the Appalachian Trail all by himself!  That in itself was no small task; but it had been done.   Now, without warning, another bombshell had been ignited and seriously, I questioned God’s timing.

Yet as my son and I were driving around the next day gathering items he would be needing for the hike, he said something to me that became a game changer for me.  Here’s what he said in referring to his plans for Peru,

“You know, Mama, I know this is going to be harder on you than it will be on anyone else.”  

At that point, a flood of tears uncontrollably broke forth and in the midst of those tears I shared the following:

“Thank you dear son for saying that to me. Thank you for understanding my pain.  Knowing you understand my pain gives me the strength and courage to let you go.  Even though it will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, know that I WILL DO IT, because I know this is what God would have me do and your understanding makes it possible.”

The greatest gift a child heading off to the mission field can give to his/her parents is to be sensitive to their pain.  If they feel you don’t understand the pain that your choice has been forced upon them (especially if there are grandchildren involved), then your insensitivity will only intensify their struggle and widen the gap that might be forming.  But I’ll not continue to focus on the negative but will instead remind you of the effect my son’s understanding had on me.

Because I knew my son understood what I was going through, that simple yet profound knowledge was all I needed to muster the strength required to send him off to Peru when the time came.  I had 2 years to prepare for that day and my son’s understanding enabled me to think clearer thoughts.  One of the first things God helped me to realize was that I was to make as many happy memories as possible with my son over the next 2 years.  I didn’t want to look back on that time and have it spoiled by “self-centered feeling sorry for myself” type of memories.  And thanks to God and my son’s understanding, I DIDN’T!

So, the key word here on both sides of the equation is UNDERSTANDING!  Parents, please understand how hard it is going to be for your child to say goodby.  Don’t send them off with a dark cloud hanging over their leaving.  One of the hardest things for them to deal with is the fact that life back home will continue WITHOUT them.  That leaves them feeling pretty empty. Their ministry, their lives, and your relationship with them will be sadly affected if they are burdened about how you are dealing with their leaving.  On the other hand, if they know that in spite of your breaking heart, they have your unconditional love and unwavering support, everything about what they will be doing will be enhanced and strengthened.

And missionary child, be sensitive to what your parents are feeling.  Angry words, confusion, and doubt on their part that you should be leaving may be nothing more than a broken heart crying out for someone to understand their pain.  If your parent knows, as I did, that their child understands the pain they must endure in releasing you to answer God’s call then often that’s all that’s needed to enable them to release you.  And remember, releasing is a painful ordeal for a parent, therefore tears are a normal, important, and cleansing part of the process.  So let them cry, it’s healthy!  Keeping it all in context keeps things from becoming overwhelming.

BTW, the jacket I’m wearing in the picture was a gift from Bobby after he through-hiked the Appalachian Trail given to me the following Mother’s Day–with the AT patch (the only one he got) hand sewn (by him) on it.  I couldn’t cherish it more!

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