Phil Wickham When My Heart is Torn Asunder

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Eating Dirt


There is an expression that I heard when my daughter was very young. As I jumped up in the park to keep her from sticking a handful of dirt into her mouth along with a clover she'd picked, my friend said to me: "Don't you know that all babies have to eat a pound of dirt before they're two?" I am not sure if that's a well-published truism or whether she was being creative at the time...but that expression came to my mind this morning as a friend and I were talking while we rode in her car.

My friend today was talking about the escapades of her son and his friends, who are in their early twenties and are stretching the leashes of their careful upbringing and doing what is commonly called: sowing their wild oats. I laughed as I said, "You know K..., just like babies have to eat a pound of dirt, I think kids have to find some trouble to get into when they are at that age. It's a requirement." I know I did it as did most of my peers.

But the really frightening thing is that this is also the age at which many mental illnesses begin to emerge. Schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and bipolar disorder all very often appear in the person's early twenties, or late teens. Combine those symptoms with the wild oats syndrome and you have a prescription for parental anguish. Parents have to watch as their beloved child falls into an illness where there may be no common ground for the parent to have empathy. Because the child is not a minor any longer, parents are often helpless observers as the child's bad choices combine with frightening symptoms. Sometimes the parent has to hope that the child will get into trouble with the law, just so they will be forced to get help. I know that my parents had to lay sleepless and frightened for a number of years,dreading the sound of the phone ringing, because night time calls could only mean bad things.

We are just entering this phase of life with my daughter...and she is going through some mental health struggles of her own... Honestly, sometimes I wish I could simply take the dirt from those little fists and bring her back home.

It is time to put the real rubber to the road in terms of trusting God. I know that there is really very little I can do, on my own, to help her now--other than to remain available and to continue to love her NO MATTER WHAT. But the greatest factor in my favor is the weapon of prayer. Prayer is not a last ditch effort. It's not "all I can do" but it is really: ALL I CAN DO- There is no greater power; no means more effective than to connect to the power of an all-powerful Father who loves your and my kids with an infinite passion.

That doesn't mean it will be easy to see them making decisions that are harmful or at the very least,unwise. But we CAN rest secure in the knowledge that He loves them even more than we do and that they are never out of His sight. When we cannot be there to protect and love them; God sends His people and angels to guard their ways and to be His hands of love to reach them...

What we cannot do; He can do. What we do not know; He knows. We need to trust Him to take care of our "little" ones as they fly from the nest into uncertain and sometimes fearful situations. And it is my firm conviction that, for those He's called to be His own and their children; God will keep their lives safe in His hands, regardless of their determination to end it, until the time when they willingly return to His embrace.

Our job as parents is to trust that God will keep His promises and act in accordance with His character as He cares for and guides our children. If there is any way that I can be of help...as either a person with mental illness or as a parent who knows what it feels like, please email me at cynthialottvogel@gmail.com or comment on this article and I will respond to you...or at the very "least," pray for you.
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