Tag Archives: Romans 8

Mean, or Means of Grace?

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“You’re a loser.  You let everyone down. Why can’t you get this right?”

We all agree those statements are mean.  Just imagining these words said to my child makes the mama lion in me wake up and roar.  Words matter.

Even the words we say to ourselves.

Time and time again as I have the privilege to care for special needs parents in the midst of deep grief I hear words like these shared from their internal dialogue.  Already feeling down for the count, the self-condemnation piles on.

When it comes to ourselves, we can be just plain mean.

What would it be like to change that voice to one of assurance and support, especially in times of crisis? Is it worth trying?

Of course it’s worth trying! It’s even biblical! “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Rom 8:1-2 NRS)

If Christ does not condemn us, why do we condemn ourselves? The good news is, we don’t have to. It is possible to retrain self-dialogue from being mean to being means of grace.

How?

  • When the negative words kick in tell them to stop. “No, that’s not true,” or “That’s hurtful and I don’t deserve that,” or “Stop. This is not what I need right now.”
  • Treat ourselves as we would a loved one going through the same circumstance. What would we say to them? Don’t we deserve that same compassion?
  • Validate our feelings. If we are grieving, or angry, or feeling justifiably guilty (emphasis on justifiably), acknowledge those feelings are real and raw without berating ourselves in the process.
  • Talk to someone, whether a family member, friend, pastor or counselor. Processing what we feel with others helps create perspective.
  • Refute negativity with something positive. Offer ourselves an affirmation that is true. No, not the cheesy and hollow kind.  Saying we are the best parent, wife, athlete, etc. ever is just as false as negativity and not particularly helpful. Rather, offer real statements of affirmation, “I am strong and I can get through this,” or “God is with me, I am not alone,” or “I made a mistake, but now I’ve learned something.”

Turn off the “mean.” Accept the grace that flows freely from God. Fill yourself to the top with it, washing away self-condemnation and let your words to yourself become, instead, a means of grace.

Gracious God, Hold us when we are hurting. We trust that you surround us with people who bring comfort. Help us to be part of your chosen team of support that builds up and restores. Amen

Rev Doc Lorna

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

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When a Pedi Goes Wrong, or Does it?

nail polish (practical joke) photographed by Kungfuman

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NRS)

Can all things really work together for good? Really? Even if you go to get a pedi to get in a little self-care in the midst of raising two children with significant developmental delays and physical disabilities and the person seated next to you comments about wanting to rent a child in a wheelchair so she can skip the lines at Disney? Can God use even that and turn it into something good? Why, yes.  Yes, God can! And here is how.

As my friend Elizabeth’s aforementioned attempt at getting a pedi unfolded, two women near her started talking about an upcoming trip to Disney. Worried about how her children would handle the long waits, one advised she had hired a guide for $150 an hour to bypass the lines (Seriously? This is a thing? And people pay for it?). The second lamented she could not afford that and wondered aloud if she could rent a child in a wheelchair, so that her precious bundles of joy wouldn’t have to wait their turns with the masses.

You know that moment when you are shocked beyond speech, but the words come later? Boy, did they come! Elizabeth shared a “teachable moment” post in a community social media group.

“…I was so stunned I couldn’t say anything. Now with my heart pounding, I wish I spoke up on behalf of my children and every other person with a disability. So if that was you, here is your teachable moment: You don’t “rent” a person. Certainly not for your gain and especially not so your kids can jump on rides faster. I have two kids with special needs, including a daughter with a wheelchair. Your kids are lucky to have legs strong enough to wait in line. I could go on, but think I’ve made my point… remember to be kind. Disabilities are not humorous. They are not convenient, and they most certainly are not to be used for your convenience!”

She didn’t rant or use ugly words, but made it clear that as a family living with the daily reality of wheelchairs the conversation had been both painful and inappropriate.  (And yes, the two “Disney ladies” did see the post!) It was a healing balm to say what she meant to say and help others outside of the world of disability understand a different reality. End of story. Right?

God had other plans.

The post went viral within her community message board.  Support poured in.

And then came the replies from a silent population of special needs moms in her own community, neighbors she had never met. They got it because they lived it. They needed each other and, through intense vulnerability, began introducing themselves and their children.  A few clicks of a keyboard later and a secret group was born creating a safe place for moms to connect, over one hundred and growing.  The post filled a void, creating a network of support, advice, idea exchanges and more.  Their latest adventure? Indoor skydiving at iFly! The activity will be adapted for families of all abilities.

There comes a moment when we need to make a choice. Ignore the pain or face it. Sit in isolation or find community. Sometimes it takes incredible vulnerability to follow where God leads. Thanks be to God that we can trust in God to make all things work together for good.

Healing God, we thank you for community. Give us the courage to be vulnerable enough to find it and the courage to speak up with words that are pleasing to you when we face our own teachable moments. Amen

Rev Doc Lorna

Photo “Nail Polish (practical joke)” photographed by Kungfuman courtesy of Wikimedia

Just Horsing Around

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If I had known the day was going to include a life or death, headlong, downhill race after my son, I would have worn different shoes.  In hindsight, I should have seen it coming.

We moved to Chicago from Alaska while my husband attended graduate school. Living on a tight, student’s budget, we were happy to find a family friendly event in the neighboring town of Naperville, an annual steeplechase.  It was a day in the country with horses jumping over fences (be still my heart!), gorgeous fall foliage, and a hillside picnic where our high-energy, high-rise dwelling three year old with ASD could enjoy the great outdoors and fire his afterburners. Perfect! Thinking it might be a fancy horse event, I wore casual slacks and flats.  That was mistake number one. Oh, I was dressed just like everyone else, but…

We parked in the freshly mown hayfield and climbed the hill to find the ideal place for Craig to run and play, spreading out our blanket with the perfect view of the finish line. Opening our picnic hamper, we settled in for the first race. Eight brush jumps, a beginner round taken at an easy pace.  Craig watched the horses jump the first few fences, bouncing away in my lap on his imaginary horsey, and shouted, “My turn!”

I thought he was joking.

That was mistake number two.

Back in the day in Alaska I rode horses and my husband would meet me at the barn with our son.  After I had finished my ride, we’d buckle on a helmet and Craig would sit in the saddle in front of me, kicking his tiny feet, “Go Alex, go!”  Each time he got to the barn, he’d see me jump a fence or two, call out, “my turn!” and he’d get a ride.

You know how kids with ASD are about routine?  Well, I hadn’t figure that out yet.

He jumped out of my lap and started running down the hill, “My turn!  My turn!”

I called after him that he couldn’t ride those horses, thinking he would stop. Ya, right. All I managed to do was let him get a head start.

That was mistake number three. Game on!

Mommy instincts finally kicked in.  He’s not stopping!  His tiny legs had remarkable turnover as he sprinted for the finish line.  “Craig! Stop! The horses are coming!”

“My turn!”

Dear God help me! No one else knew what was happening. The rest of the sparse crowd had their attention fixed on the finish line. I started running faster, flats slipping on the damp grass.  My husband, realizing the seriousness, was on his feet behind me.  There was no time to zigzag around the other picnicking guests.  I leapt entire families in hurdler form, screaming like a crazy woman, “Craig! Stop!”

“My turn!”

All dignity gone, feet skidding wildly, I finally managed to scoop up Craig about ten yards from the rail. Frankly, I was glad I didn’t fall on him and crush him.

Relieved. Scared. Embarrassed. Elated.

I tucked him under my arm like a wiggly football, full of giggles for his great adventure,  and started the long trudge back up the hill to scattered, polite applause, apologizing to far more people than I care to remember. I was embarrassed, they were amused.

I realized in that moment how deeply I loved my child.  I couldn’t think of logical consequences for a punishment, nor behavior plans. I doubt in that moment I even knew my own name, but I felt an overwhelming sense of love and knew nothing would keep me from chasing after him.

Perhaps that was for me a dim glimpse into the love that Paul writes of in his letter to the Romans.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 NRSV)

Absolutely nothing separates us from the love of God. God loves us in a deep and abiding sense. God, too, pursues us when we are headed the wrong way, flinging wide protective arms, even when we chose not to see them. When we finally turn to Him, He embraces us. “Welcome home, little one! I’m glad you’ve stopped horsing around.”

Photo by Jason Trommetter “Steeplechase” via Wikimedia Commons

Thank you Sandra Peoples for inviting me to guest blog today wiht this post at  specialneedsparenting.net.  If any parents out there are looking for a great book to use for parent support resources, check out Sandra’s book “Held.”