Yesterday was one of my favorite postings. Because I feel like the past few years (or longer) has been nothing but a giant struggle. But you know, I don’t dare place my struggle on the same plane as some of those I know. I know people who have struggled, or are struggling, mightily. My step-mother-in-law just had her second kidney removed. She is struggling. I have two aunts who lost their children. They’re struggling. I have a friend and both of her sons have a disease. She’s struggling. I have an aunt who is estranged from her sons. She’s struggling. This aunt also happens to be having a cardiac catheterization this week, and she said something intriguing. In thinking about her procedure, she said, “The bible verse “trust in the Lord with all your heart” is taking on a new connotation for me.” Yes, I am surrounded by a myriad of hurting people who have fought tangible battles, and who are still fighting. And there are so many more.
My struggles are different. Because when I contemplate my time on earth, I have had no major upheavals to overcome. When I look at the course of my life, it seems to have gone along quite smoothly. Outwardly, everything looks just fine. But inwardly, that’s another story. Inward is where my struggles lie, and my heart and mind are the battlefield. I’ll give you an example through a child’s movie. We had a snow day on Wednesday, so my family watched Finding Nemo. The first scene is really quite something. The dad, Marlin, and his wife, Coral, are looking over their new home. Their babies (eggs) are nearby, and everything looks just great. But then a barracuda arrives on the scene. The parents look on in fear, and Marlin orders Coral into the house. But she just stares at that threatening fish, and then she fights for the lives of her children. She swims for them… but, she doesn’t make it. And none of her babies make it… except one. And I have to say, in all the times I’ve seen Finding Nemo, the movie never got to me as much as it did this time. Because I realized… I am both Coral and Marlin.
I have a son who is six and a half years old. And I just have to say that I’ve lived in fear most of his existence. It began immediately after he was born. I could barely sleep at night for fear he would stop breathing. Several times a night, I would place my hand on his chest to feel it rise and fall, and I still do this now, just before I go to bed. After the breathing, came eating. I feared every bite would choke him to death. And that little dickens knew somehow. He was about two and a half when he filled his mouth to capacity, and then looked over to me, opening his mouth wide as he could for me to see inside! See, fear must have been oozing from my pores because even at that tender age, my son knew I was scared. And there are other fears, losing him in the grocery store, him getting hit by a car, and on and on and on. I have been living in fear from the day my son was born. Do you know what God says about that? “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18. Quite clearly, I have not been perfected in God’s love.
Finding Nemo was eye opening. I could see myself in Marlin. He was terrified of everything after the tragic death of his wife and children. And because of his fear, he smothered his one remaining son. He didn’t want to let Nemo do anything. He didn’t trust Nemo, or anyone else for that matter. And that’s me! I am just like Marlin. And I can see myself in Coral, too. See, she fought for her children… to death. Any mother would. We love them so much, we would do anything for them. Our children are tied to our hearts… why, they are our hearts. We feel everything they do. When they cry, we cry. When they laugh, we laugh (usually). I love my son so much, and the thought of losing him nearly incapacitates me. And because of fear, I barely live. And through that fear, I’ve hindered my child.
Everything came to a head this past January. It all began in July. My son developed a skin condition (they say it’s Psoriasis). He still has this. Among other sicknesses, he had some sort of allergic reaction in December that lasted three days. Not sure what that was. Through this time period, my son got to where he couldn’t hear us. Thus, an ensuing ENT visit, which led to ear tubes, both of which blew out because his infection was so bad. Now, I know these are all minor issues. But not to me. Because I lived in fear from the day my son was born, these issues just heightened my fear. And this past winter, fear grew exponentially. The morning of my son’s ear procedure, I despaired. I honestly believed that God was going to take him from me. I know, irrational thinking, but this is what I thought. I cried the whole time I was in the shower, and I cried as I saw them put my son to sleep. Despite the fear that held me captive, my son came out just fine. It was the day after the procedure that the tubes blew out. By that point, I was undone. Eventually the infection went away, but the fear remained. And so, it was this past February when God & me had a moment.
On February 9th, my son developed a pretty high fever. After my husband went to bed, I gave my son Tylenol, but about 45 minutes later his temperature began to rise again. When it hit 103.5, I broke. I knelt before my bed and cried out to God. He already knew my fear, for He knows my heart. But I never wanted to voice it before (superstitious?). But that night, I talked to God about my fear. I prayed for that little boy and his fever… for healing. And not just for the fever, but for everything else that plagued his body. It was a night I surrendered to God, and wept before Him. I knew only God could heal my boy, and me. Because although my son is the one who had all sickness, I believe the battle over his body was actually being fought within my very heart.
I’d like to say that after that night, fear left me forever. But it hasn’t completely. See, this is one of my struggles and it’s an ongoing battle. Two-steps forward and one-step back with each skirmish. But you know, last night a new thought struck me. I think it must have stemmed from my aunt’s remark about trusting God with her heart. See, my son is my heart. How could he not be? And it was within this past year that my husband and I had a ceremony at our home, consecrating ourselves to God. We did this last Spring, and from sincere hearts gave all of ourselves to God. And that included our son. Last night, I remembered 2 Timothy 1:12, but rather than thinking about me, I heard it in light of my son… “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day.” Yes… my son! I committed him to the Lord not that long ago. God is fully able to keep him. Whatever takes place with my son (good or bad) is in God’s hands! He will allow nothing to happen to my son outside His will. And so, I think that truth finally sunk in last night.
There’s an older country song I love. It’s Travis Tritt who sings out, “Can I trust you with my heart?” Well, my son is my heart, and God knows this about me. Last night, when I reflected on 2 Timothy 1:12, it was as if God were asking me, “Can you trust Me with your heart?” Yes, I believe I can.