I recently shared this testimony at church and my hubs encouraged me to share it here, as well.
I modified the names to protect the innocent. (okay, not really) But I did edit it a bit.
It’s not my usual lighthearted fare, but perhaps it will speak to you.
I am a mom of 3…
An almost 23 year old daughter, almost 16 year old son, and a 13 year old son.
I accepted Jesus as my Lord & Savior when I was fifteen and then rebelled for several years. Even at this point, some destructive patterns started to emerge.
Add in a bad relationship and my parents divorcing when I was nineteen years old, I started living a fast-paced, reckless lifestyle in which I learned that others really couldn’t be relied on…I needed to rely on myself.
Everyone trusted ME, but I couldn’t trust anyone with anything about me beyond the superficial stuff in life.
And I was okay with this.
Fast forward a few years …I met husband and we married. Neither one of us were walking with the Lord at this time.
I was still “running” all the time until, finally, the birth of my daughter slowed me down long enough to face my desperate need for God!
I recommitted my life to the Lord. We all started going to church. Shortly after that, husband accepted Jesus as His Lord & Savior.
We spent 8 years at our first church. We became heavily involved in ministry and I took on crazy, big projects at church that were way more than one person should do.
But I NEVER asked for help.
I started struggling with a medical condition during one of my biggest projects, but I shared it with no one except my husband. I kept on going. I never slowed down.
We felt called to homeschool and so I started homeschooling my daughter when she was four. I have been homeschooling ever since.
We owned an espresso cart that eventually went under, and so I started working as a caregiver during the hours that my husband didn’t work so we wouldn’t have to pay for childcare.
Even though we had very little money, I was determined to do as much as I could to make up for what I couldn’t afford in curriculum and other things in my daughter’s life. I would hand make many things because we couldn’t afford to buy new.
In my mind, there was no obstacle that was insurmountable. No problem I couldn’t fix or work around. I didn’t need help…we were doing just fine on our own.*
*I need to add that I am blessed with an amazing extended family who stepped in & hugely helped where they could. My whole point here is that I never really shared exactly how much we were struggling.
My life was a never-ending cycle of activity. Trying to do all & be all for everybody, including myself.
After having several miscarriages, I became pregnant & had my #2 child (a son). And then, 1.5 years later, I became pregnant with my youngest.
It was a challenging pregnancy & I was on partial bedrest. My husband took over my caregiving job in addition to his own job. My daughter took care of #2 child & me.
But we didn’t need help. We had it handled.
My youngest was born with medical difficulties & we spent the next 6 months at home. He had a cleft palate, so he couldn’t nurse or drink from a regular bottle. I pumped breastmilk for a year and used a special squeeze bottle to feed him.
But we made it through. No help needed. (refer to the * note above)
And all this time, we watched my #2 child regress. I knew in my heart that he was autistic, but when we were finally able to leave the home with my youngest & get him diagnosed, it hit like a ton of bricks.
The doctor said that we should try to get him into as many therapies as possible, but (by the way) insurance won’t cover it. And then when he is eighteen, we can put him in a home.
And we were put on a six-month waiting list for Children’s Hospital.
After two days, I decided to call Children’s to see exactly what we were waiting for.
Speech – Okay.
Physical Therapy – Okay.
Psychiatric Treatment – What?! I asked what that was for and the lady responded, “So we can know what medication we can put him on.”
The world stopped for a moment & I clearly heard in my head, “Not my child.”
So, I cancelled everything.
My husband always says that at this point it was like we “circled the wagons & hunkered down,” using his “old western movie” analogy.
I spent thousands of hours researching over the next several years. Many thousands of dollars were on natural treatments and therapies.
I was absolutely determined that I was going to have my son be healed. I declared it! I believed it!
And some of these treatments really did help. But in his later years, there became a point where we felt God prompting us to back off of most of them. Today, he still has many, many challenges.
So the years went by. No one really understood our struggles and we stopped trying to share.
There was never a simple answer to the question, “How are you doing?” and people’s eyes started to glaze over when we tried to be truthful, so we eventually didn’t answer it.
But our reality was:
- I worked up to 50 hours weekly and my husband 40 hours weekly, opposite shifts
- I homeschooled
- I managed #2 child’s public school education (no small thing if you have a child with special needs!)
- I managed the children’s medical stuff (also a humongous undertaking if you are dealing with special needs)
- I taught at 2 different homeschool co-ops and headed up one of them
- Many anxieties started cropping up
- I lost, on average, 10-20 hours of sleep weekly
- I missed church half of the time because of my work schedule
- Our apartment was a disaster
- I hardly ever cooked. My husband was (and still is!) a better homemaker than me
But we were making it. We did not need help.
Every time a new problem or obstacle came our way, I dug a little deeper. I worked a little harder.
I controlled everything & everybody. Every problem was fixable.
And, if I am being honest, I drove my family to be this way, too.
But all the while, cracks were starting to show in this armor that I created for myself.
Deep down, in a place that I would not show to anyone else, I knew I was going to fail.
That everything that I held up in my world was going to fall.
That I was going to reach a point where my strength was not enough.
I wasn’t going to be smart enough, strong enough, resilient enough.
And everything was going to fall apart.
I was going to break down.
And I was so afraid.
Sadly, it took over a decade for that breakdown to happen.
It started with my daughter struggling in her late teens. And God stopped me from trying to fix her.
He so very clearly commanded me to do nothing but pray. And even if I had wanted to disobey, the Holy Spirit was right there stopping me.
And so at this point, I had to leave everything to God. And how faithful He was! The changes that happened over the course of the next year were amazing.
In my daughter. But not so much in me.
I had taken beginning steps, but only in this area.
I had so much more growing to do.
It wasn’t until my health really started to breakdown & I physically did not have the energy or ability to “do it all” anymore that I finally understood what God had been trying to show me all along.
I was never strong.
I never had it all under control.
All my fighting against all of the problems was really me fighting against letting Him be in control & fully be Lord of my life.
I have spent over half of my adult life fighting so hard to be strong that I refused to yield control over to the One that is TRULY strong.
I was never strong!! In fact, I was so much weaker because of relying on myself & not on God.
Over the last few years, I have learned to yield control over to God. I have in no way “arrived” yet, but I can look back at who I was yesterday and can praise the LORD for where I am today.
The Lord continually shows me new areas in my life that I need to yield to Him.
He knows all of my needs and all of my heart’s desires.
God has not failed me,
He is entirely trustworthy. I can truly rest in Him!
So that is really the heart of my message.
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about the “thorn in his side” that God did not take away.
Instead, He told him that “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
Paul chose to delight in his weaknesses so that Christ’s power rested on him. He said, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
On that same line of thinking, I would say that the reverse is true, as well:
All of the time I was trying to be strong, I was truly so very weak.
So my questions for you today are:
- What areas of your life have you relied on your own “strength”?
- What do you feel the Lord calling you to do today about these areas?