That's how long we've shared our time together with our newest little girl.
I'm thinking about the 30 days prior to these last 30 days and the 30 days prior to those last 30 days...I'm thinking about how strange it is that sets upon sets of 30 days can go by, and our lives remain the same. Then suddenly 30 days can go by and our lives are forever drastically changed. Even more thought provoking is the fact that as prepared or planned out my weeks and days and months even years may be- I never know the impact 30 days will have on me.
The thoughts are scattered, the life lessons still aren't totally clear, and some of the reality isn't quite as real as maybe it will be. Nonetheless there are some things we are chewing on. Good things, bad things, sin things, flesh things, practical things, God things.
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ- 2 Corinthians 10:5
This little girl has brought to the surface a problem both Kenney and I have. We are NOT taking our thoughts captive and forcing them to be obedient to Christ. We've just let our thoughts be our thoughts. They come in and maybe we don't act upon them, but, we've given them a home and a place to stay, and even three good meals a day- all regardless of their allegiance. Thoughts. They seem so innocent, so harmless, we say things like "we're human" "we're sinners" "this is all normal and a part of living in a fallen world" but, do we EVER say things like "hey, somebody lock those thoughts up and don't let them out until they have conformed to what Christ would have me think."
Captive. What a simple word with such a simple meaning. To confine or imprison.
What happens when we don't take our thoughts captive? What happens when our thoughts have free reign?
It was two am in the morning and three in the afternoon in China. Thoughts are running wild and spilling out of our mouths through the miracle of wireless phone calls. What if she never talks? What if she never walks? She is the only little girl that is handicapped out of the 80 other people doing medicals- why do all these other people have it "easier"? What if we never have alone time again? I can't do this. We can't do this. What have we done. What about our other kids? We'll never vacation again. We can't afford two power chairs and adaptive aids and therapy tools. What if all of our time is spent with Speech Therapy, and OT and PT and doctor appointments? Our lives are already so busy and so full, we can't possibly make it any more full and stay afloat. What about us? What about our marriage? What if it's never just "us" again? What if we are cutting food and wiping mouths and changing diapers until we die? We had dreams ya know- dreams full of just Kenney and I, just him and I and coffee shops and quaint restaurants, beaches and Zombie Dust (that would be our island beer) dreams of quiet mornings, spontaneous living, and weekend getaways. What if this is what our lives are like forever...
I'd like to say this was just one conversation. I'd like to say we talked about it and worked it out. We didn't. We've spent HOURS upon HOURS of conversations like this in the last 30 days.
So we tried to fix it all.... tried to make it all get better and go away. We knew things were broken, and so we tried to fix it.
1. The Comparison Game
This one is a favorite of ours. It's seems to be the go to remedy in our fix-it tool box. And just like basic screwdrivers, there are two go-to favorites -the Phillips head and the flat head. The Phillips head approach- compare our lives with people who have it seemingly better than us. So we looked around at the people we knew that didn't have any kids with disabilities. We looked around at the people that have booming college funds and big houses and separate rooms for their kids. We looked around at the people going on family vacations - rock climbing, white water rafting, swimming, and hiking. And we sank even further. We found our lives to be ugly and not fun. Suddenly everything was bad. The house- bad. The cars- bad. Our kids-all bad. Heck- we even looked at our wedding pictures and decided those weren't very good either, especially since someone else had better ones than us. The pity party comparison /Phillips head screwdriver approach failed us miserably. Because all it did was make us even more miserable. Clearly the problem must have been who and what we compared our lives to- so we moved on to the flat head screwdriver approach. Compare our lives with others who have it worse than us. So we compared ourselves to the parents who have lost their children in this world. The pain didn't go away. Suddenly we were overwhelmed with guilt and how insensitive we must be. We thought thoughts like "We should be thankful our children are here with us right now." "We should be thankful that we are not in and out of hospitals, thankful our children can eat and chew and swallow and smile and communicate with us, thankful they are happy, thankful they are not in pain...." Funny thing is, we were thankful for all those things, but it still felt like our arm was on fire, and while we were thankful our house wasn't on fire, mostly, we were still a bit concerned about the arm that IS on fire. Problem is, pain is pain, and hurt is hurt, and sin is sin, and being thankful doesn't make sin go away. ONLY God takes away sin.
2. The Convincible Ally
Find someone, in particular someone who doesn't exactly know you well. Someone who might not want to offend you. Someone who probably really doesn't care, but key is, you have to be able to act like they know you well and care tons. A co-worker, or friend in your yoga class, maybe the cleaning lady, or hair-dresser. So we tell them our story (clearly leaving out any details that might make us seem like the bad guys.) We use words that make us sound like the hero of the story "We're really thankful she can get the therapy here she needs, but isn't it so sad that she can't walk?" Guess what the natural response is? Someone gushing over us, telling us how awesome of parents we must be, telling us we deserve so much more, the praise pours over us and we bask in the accomplishment. Not only did we get someone to side with us and totally agree with our point of view, we became saints in the process. Then we went home. Then we talked with each other again. Kenney doesn't think I'm a saint, as a matter of fact, he has first hand knowledge that I am not. And, while Kenney was calling me out, he probably used an expletive of some sort... no saint there either. Spouses have a way of bringing the truth to the surface. Spouses destroy the self-praise bandwagon.
3. Just Go With It
Our last ditch effort- just let the feelings guide us. Fear and worry- just go with it. Who cares if we go to bed scared and crying. Who cares if we wake up cursing the day. What does it matter if we're happy and friendly. Praise God for the Holy Spirit! Praise God for Grace! One of Tommy's first Sunday School lessons resonated through our heads- Why were we created? To bring God glory. These feelings were not bringing God glory.
Lastly (which should have been the first- again- Praise God for his infinite Grace)
We prayed together. Laying in bed, our eyes were closed and Kenney prayed. I don't even know the words he used. I don't remember anything, other than surrender. Giving it all to God. No more fixing it. No more comparison games or going with it, or pity parties- everything was surrendered. Every thought, every feeling, every worry, all put at the foot of the cross. Together we surrendered.
and take every thought captive to obey Christ- 2 Corinthians 10:5
We're moving on. We're taking those thoughts captive, and surrendering them, handing them over to Christ. After all, we are powerless to make our thoughts obey Christ, it is only CHRIST himself that can change us, and change our thoughts. We're changing, we're growing and we're learning new things together. In 30 days, our little Charlotte has changed our lives forever. Our prayer is that she changes our lives, our marriage, and our parenting to reflect more and more of Christ, and less and less of ourselves. We pray she brings Him glory. We pray she helps us, together, through our parenting and our marriage- bring Him glory.
Practically speaking, this article was AWESOME! Really gave Kenney and I a much needed perspective. To summarize: Don't believe everything you think; The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9) Fill your minds with the right things; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. (Psalm 101:3) Don't stop learning; Wise men store up knowledge . . . (Proverbs 10:14), Those who get wisdom do themselves a favor, and those who love learning will succeed. (Proverbs 19:8), “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6) Feed yourself on God's word.
Hindsight is 20/20. I can look back on the last couple of weeks and see some of the areas we failed prior to our meltdowns. We believed our thoughts. We filled our minds with worthless and useless things, instead of God's word. We didn't store up the truths we'd already learned. I could go on and on.... I'll say it again, PRAISE GOD FOR HIS GRACE!