When the Losses Far Surpass the Wins
I heard it from the other room as it rattled the house. I knew the sound and quickly headed in that direction. As I entered the kitchen, my thirteen-year-old was already on the scene. My youngest son was having a severe meltdown and was banging his head so hard on the large glass window; I was sure it could break this time.
As my older son scooped him up, the youngest flailed in his arms. Still in a rage, this tiny person threw his head back and caught the other square in the jaw. As I tried to intervene, the hitting began, and this little fighter was not about ready to be calmed. I was able to pull the youngest into my arms to take him to his room. And as I turned for his room, I saw the pain and loss in my older son's eyes.
It happened before seven, on a Sunday morning, on my oldest's birthday.
The frequency of these events was only continuing to escalate, and I feared for the toll it was taking on everyone.
On the days that the losses far surpass the wins, I remind myself of these truths:
There is still love in damage control.
I had noticed that in crisis moments, I was very intentional in my actions, almost robotic. I would switch off my emotions and tightly close my mouth because nothing good would come out. I felt like I was failing because I didn't see "the preciousness of my child" in these challenging times. But, I was reminded in Matthew 25 when Jesus says:
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Nowhere does he say: you felt all the ooey-gooey feelings of love and connection the entire time you cared for the least of these. It tells us that we were asked to feed, give them a drink, invite them in, clothe them, look after them.
If you kept them safe and didn't let your emotions get the best of you every time (although that is a work in progress for me), I will call that a win.
Even better, Jesus says when we do those things, we are blessed by the Father. What greater hope can we have?
The Gospel is messy
If we look at the New Testament, we are reminded countless times how challenging following Jesus will always be.
2 Corinthians 1 reminds us:
We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.
I have always believed that God is not concerned with my comfort. Some days are going to suck.
But when I am at my weakest, it is a beautiful reminder that I cannot rely on my strength. If I feel the day's weight is too much to bear, I am carrying something I never meant to hold. It is time to cast it to shoulders much more equipped.
It is okay to hide when it is too much.
Jesus himself did this. Luke 5:16 tells us: But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
I hide a lot. Sometimes under a blanket on the couch, sometimes in my bathroom, often in my van (they are less likely to find me). When I hide, maybe I give myself a pep talk, maybe grab a snack. At times I just cry. My hiding time that offers the most peace is always in prayer. Withdrawing may look different for you, but remember who is truly your hiding place. We need this time alone with our creator.
Find people who get it.
Whether it be a calling or something that happened without choice, find your people. My heart beats for foster care and adoption, but before I started working in that ministry, I met with a fantastic group of mothers of children with special needs every month. Their support group met at the same time as our foster and adoption group. At times, my heart yearned to be in the next room over with mamas who understood what I was going through and could offer their wisdom.
Find people who have been there. Allow them to walk alongside you and breathe hope into your soul. You may be in a tough season, but God never asked you to do this alone.
Look behind you.
One of the most inspiring movie quotes comes from one of the most unlikely sources in the movie Cars. Mater is showing off his backward driving skills when he calls out:
"Ain't no need to watch where I'm goin'; just need to know where I've been."
I often reflect on this in regards to faith. God has a plan for our lives that, when allowed, can take us to some of the most heartbreaking and still breathtaking experiences. I am so sure of his faithfulness because he has promised never to leave or forsake me. I find this to be tested and true.
When you wake up and wonder how you can ever face this day, look back to where you have been and remember. Hold on to all his promises he has kept as you continue to press forward and endure.
May the peace that passes all understanding wash over you and your home today. May you cast all your cares to your Heavenly Father. Even in all the heartbreak, I pray your heart finds rest and restoration.