Matthew 6: 34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
So yes this season is filled with challenges for our family. The past few weeks have been difficult, and the coming weeks and months will also likely take us to, or even past our limits. Change is never smooth, easy or without its share of complications. Where our family finds itself is similar in some ways to the past, but its also completely new in other ways. The realities of the week ahead hit Holly and I yesterday, and I was more overwhelmed by anxiety than I have been in months, maybe even years. Going down the road took me past next week and spiraling into the summer and then the next thing I knew I was in December planning out 2019… All that on March 4th no less.
The effect of all that was stifling, borderline debilitating. It didn’t shut me down as it would have in the past, sending me into making unhealthy decisions that *promised me* a distraction. It did however rob me of some time to be present in the present. The next few hours before falling asleep were spent with obsessive thoughts and with my heart shifting locations from inside my throat to the outside of my chest (never you mind that it’s not possible). The anxiety was turned up to 11. I took some time to pray and meditate, and mercifully fell off to sleep. Prayers answered.
Then along came 4:06. The sweetest voice you’d ever want to hear (at any hour) rang through the monitor calling for me. The reality of the hour was painful, and then the sobering reality of why I was being paged really shocked me into the present. It suffices to say, it was the call from a child who needed help, comfort and as many assurances as I could offer. The next few hours rotated between the bathroom floor and the couch. Gentle touches, a fresh pillow, a sip of water. I kept looking for ways I could help my daughter. Thinking about what I would like if I were her and trying to plan ahead so she can know how much she is cherished, and how sorry I feel along with her that she’s sick. Then I realized the prayer I didn’t offer up, God answered for me anyway.
Matthew 6:8 “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
As I sat on the cool bathroom floor, I realized how the insanity of my future-tripping last night and at other times in my life has robbed me of the here and now. I’d prefer that God not use my 8 year-old daughter in this way to teach me a lesson, but never the less, it’s a lesson I needed. I’m still fairly anxious and fearful, but I can acknowledge those emotions, honor them as being true but not be held *hostage* to those powerful emotions, or hold my family hostage either. Not always the case.
In the past, the uncertainty that came with a change would be overwhelming. It would steal me from a loving family, it would leave my wife alone and it would strip my daughters of their father. The impact could last a few days, weeks or months. It was never the same reaction, and it wreaked havoc on those around me. I had no idea. I also didn’t know any better. I thought that by taking on my families worry and trying to figure out all our problems, think Atlas and the Earth, that I was being of service to them. Regardless of my intentions, I did them all a great disservice. I wanted to take care of them so nobody would have to worry except me. I mean really? Who in their right mind actually wants to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders? That’s a martyr complex I don’t look to get wrapped up in again, or at least fully… Perfect I’m not. It’s undeniably true I want to care for my family, but to care for them sincerely means being present in good and bad. It’s madness, and contradictory to faith-filled living to think that it’s up to me to make our problems go away, especially when some of them aren’t even mine directly. Yet there I was, stepping up to try and make things right. It’s in my DNA, or at least in the way I was raised that the *man of the house* steps up and *takes care* of things. Of course even in my house growing up, things weren’t always taken care of.
How it looked for us was my dad getting quiet verbally, even mostly silent. Meanwhile his non-verbals were amplified, and the rest of us would be walking on egg shells praying that we wouldn’t find ourselves the subject of any blow-back. I didn’t want to live like that as a child, and I really don’t want my kids to have to grow up like that either.
Now I realize how some of this sounds and I’m not meaning to vilify my parents. I love them dearly. I’m grateful for them. I miss my dad and I pray for a relationship with my mom that can be healthy. As I’ve said in the past, they were handed a broken baton and did the best they could. Unfortunately they handed the baton on, and it’s now up to my siblings and our respective families whether to hand on a more broken baton or to hand on something a little better. My wife and I continue to work towards handing on to our daughters something even slightly less-broken, as well as something healthier and God-honoring.
I wouldn’t mind having all the answers now, but then again having all the answers would rob me of so much. Quite frankly, I don’t want to know how it all works out, or what the end of the story is. When I watch a movie, there’s so much rich story-telling, twists and turns and incredible imagery that I get upset when I hear what happens at the end. I urge you to wait for the ending and live every day as part of the story, living for today with your eyes on eternity. Slow down, share more and take joy knowing we are part of a much bigger story. Take heart that the end of our story regardless of when or how, ends gloriously and is spent in eternity.
Jeremiah 29: 11-14 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord
It truly is a gift to be present.