I have watched anxiety rob a person of really living. And I have seen fear and worry stand in the way of true faith. Raising children who have anxiety disorders can be one of the most painful things to watch. It seems that the kids that worry and suffer with fear all the time are easily identifiable. It is not hard to know what is going on with them. Not always easy to know what to do about it but at least we know what the issues are. And so we talk, we pray, we recite scripture and we pray some more. But, it is the quiet ones that suffer without sharing their fears, their anxieties, their struggles that have come to my attention this week. Because of the outward, obvious needs of a few children, I have realized that I have missed the cues from the ones who appear to handle stresses in stride. We are a family in crisis...all families with a child (or two) who are facing life threatening illnesses are families in crisis.
I forget that even the most emotionally healthy child in a mildly stressful environment (i.e. alive..) has many issues to wrestle with as they grow into adulthood. Adolescence is filled with change and that can be an exciting time but also one that can be laced with fear and insecurities. Add to it that our children came through the foster care system, were orphaned or abandoned, and I realized that I have simplified the struggles that they are dealing with. And they have already lost a little brother. Our children wrestle with significant learning issues related to brain damage in-utero due to the alcohol and drug exposure. So, not only must they deal with issues of self worth and identity, but they must work through those issues with cognitive and processing delays that do not always lead them to a place of healing.
I struggled this week with the thought "What have we done?" By adopting kids who are medically fragile along with kids who have FASD, ADHD, anxiety disorders and PTSD, have we asked them to handle more than they are able? Can our kids make through the challenges ahead? Are they too fragile? And then I step back, take a deep breath, and remind myself that none of us can handle what we are dealing with on our own...and I remind myself that we did not chose these children. Do we truly believe that it was God that designed our family? If we do, than this way of thinking proves to be foolish...only a waste of time that could be spent in the wonder and praise of God's providence over us. We watched God orchestrate every detail of our lives as he brought our children to us. He made his presence exceedingly evident through the process. Because he holds our past, our present, and our future...He knew then what we did not. And for such a time as this, He has given us those clear signs of His presence.
He knew exactly what He was doing when he brought each member of our family together. He picked an unlikely group of imperfect, messy servants to take on this challenge. He works that way...
He knows exactly what each member of us need through this time. God has allowed me freedom from many of my fears and anxieties because I lived through events that I thought would have crushed me. Losing my father to alcoholism and suicide 25 years ago, losing my Mother to cancer 15 years ago, and losing my precious son 5 years ago...I didn't just survive, I grew in ways I had never imagined possible. It was the times when I was deep in the waters and they did not overtake me...it was in the depths of struggle, that I saw God more clearly than ever. He is here with us..He is holding us tight.
My human nature wishes that I could take away the struggles and the suffering that my kids will face. But, my heart knows that God is in control, and He has a plan far greater than anything I could imagine. So, now, when the feelings of fear for my children come into my head, I will stop. I will pray. And I will remind myself to watch for God...To look for his strong, gentle and healing hand. He knows. He has always known. He is so much bigger than FASD, PTSD or an anxiety...he bypasses all of that and speaks to each of our hearts.
I will pray that each of our children will hear His unmistakable voice...feel his comforting caress..that they will cast all their cares upon Him and that they will know that He is completely in control...and that He is good.
To know that our Father in heaven has ordained our pain is not a comfortable truth, but it is comforting. That our pain has a loving and wise and all-powerful purpose behind it is better than any other view—weak God, cruel God, bumbling God, no God. To know that in his hands “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17) is profoundly reassuring. And yes, “light” and “momentary” meant, in Paul’s case, a lifetime of suffering. The excruciating “lightness” of his suffering was light compared to the weight of glory. And the interminable “momentariness” of his suffering was momentary compared to the eternality of the glory.
John Piper, A Sweet and Bitter Providence, pp. 138-139. (You can download the book for free at this link)