Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Now what?

I grabbed her by the shoulders with all the gentleness and confidence I could muster.  I locked my eyes on hers.

Lucy, this is not you.  Look at mommy.  This is not you.  Stop right now.

It wasn't her, but she couldn't stop.
I knew she would regret her behavior later but I also knew there was no rationalizing with her in that moment.


She paused to look at me and then continued
throwing her words loud and ugly back at me,
throwing her carefully arranged stuffed animals across the room.
Just hours before she had cheerfully hosted a tea party for them on the floor.
As I turned to leave her alone in her room she turned to beat her little fists on the purple blanket strewn across her bed, still yelling, her face so red and full of rage I barely recognized her.

It's been a while since we have seen the explosiveness of the battlefield inside of her do so much damage, steal her away from us like a prisoner of war.  Those are the moments when I slip back into desperation, into dependence.  And so I slip down on my knees like a puddle of fear and grief making the only request I know to make -
God, give us what we need.

I didn't have long to compose myself because one of Lucy's best friends was sitting at my kitchen counter with a snack - the only form of comfort I could offer until I secured a safe zone for all of us.  Behind two closed doors her screaming threats and furious accusations were only muffled.  I wrapped my arms around her sweet little friend and apologized, emphasizing that when things inside Lucy's body aren't working well it makes her feel horrible and she says and does things that she doesn't mean at all.  I thanked her for being such a kind and patient friend.

By the grace of God she smiled and told me it was 'okay' and somehow my own need for reassurance was provided by a 6 year old that day.  If it had to happen, it was the right friend for it to happen to - one that Lucy loves like a sister, one that I love like my own child.  Maybe that's why it happened.  In the past, the explosiveness was reserved only for family, primarily for me.  Maybe when a friend feels like family it makes her vulnerable too.

The next day I took Lucy to the hospital to have her blood drawn so they could tell me what I already knew.  Her thyroid was malfunctioning again.  For nearly a month I had noticed the shift taking place.  I had been the one taking the direct hits daily.
Increased irritability.
Inability to focus.
Tendency towards meltdowns.
Paralyzing panic and anxiety.
Gnawing of the nails.
Blood sugar levels swinging from low to high.

It's difficult for Lucy to live with the daily fluctuations in her blood sugar due to her Type 1 Diabetes.  Having another war waged on top of that one is unimaginable to me.  For nearly two years she has been in remission from Graves' Disease, another auto-immune disease.  Graves' is also called hyperthyroidism.  It is a condition in which your thyroid is overactive and the delicate balance of hormones in your body is thrown off completely.  Hormonal swings are hard for this 39 year old, they must be unbearable for a 7 year old.  We've had some relief from that for a while, until now.

Based on the most recent lab results, it appears Lucy's thyroid problems have swung in the opposite direction this time.  She now has an unofficial diagnosis of Hashimoto's which is another name for hypothyroidism - a thyroid that is under active.  I find myself back where we were when her medical problems began.  I'm holding a handful of questions without clear answers.  Lucy's thyroid problems have always been complicated.  Regardless of the diagnosis her symptoms never line up exactly and never stay consistent.  There is an unpredictability that changes the entire atmosphere in our home.

There is no easy, fool-proof plan for dealing with a temperamental thyroid.
I like a good, clear plan - don't you?

Last Sunday the kids and I went back to Charlotte so I could preach at our church there.  I was unofficially calling my message - 'Now What?' and it was all about being less committed to our plans and more committed to our person - Jesus.  As I wrote the words I would deliver I knew they would deliver me.  Jesus spelled it out to his disciples when they kept asking for a step-by-step plan for their own lives.  He spells it out for us.

God has a plan.
I'm following his plan.  You follow me.

The details?  They are not for you to know.  I'm not giving them to you.  You don't need them.
BUT - I'm giving you what you do need - my Spirit residing in you.

As a mother I always want to be able to give my children what they need.  It rips my heart in two when I see them struggling, drowning, and I can't find a way to save them.  Instinctively I jump right in and the fear and grief threaten to drown me too.  And so I have to be brave enough to turn away from them, turn away from the situation, long enough to fix my eyes back on my guide, my Savior, their Savior.  I'm no savior.

The answer to fear and uncertainty in my life is always the same.  And it's always the opposite of what I want to do.  I can't run out ahead, hunting down answers along dark overgrown paths on my own.
I must stop,
get my bearings,
make sure I'm close enough to my guide to follow his lead - one step at a time.
Following requires me to surrender my need for a plan for tomorrow 
and accept God's presence for today.

Over the past week God has given us what we need - one day at a time, one provision at a time.  We still don't know exactly where all of this is headed but He does and so I rest in that promise.  We have doctors and friends and family and groups of people who bear this same burden and help us along the way.  I don't know what I would do without them.

We are choosing to let faith guide us instead of letting fear chase us.
That makes all the difference.

Lucy finally calmed down on that explosive day.  She came out of her room and her breathing was slower, her shoulders were softer, her eyes were brighter.  And there she was - my Lucy.  My fighter.  My blinding light of truth and hope.  She looked at her friend and apologized.  Her friend smiled and the forgiveness came easy as she said to me - you must have done something to fix her blood sugar!  Oh how I wish I could fix it all.

All I can do is keep asking this question - Now what?
Not
tomorrow
or next month
or when she goes off to college...
now.

I have to stop worrying about there and then.
What do we do here and now?

The battle is won one move at a time.
One pleading prayer.
One tender moment.
One approving smile.
One story told.
One gentle touch.
One offer of grace after another.

You've heard human mothers likened to mother bears protecting their babies.  It's true.
But fighting for my children looks different than I imagined.
It's more tenderness than violence, but we still get hurt.

It's not that I thought I would be picking fights with little kids on the playground who called my kids names.  I guess I just thought I would be out on a battlefield defending them and I've found that I've done more suiting them up for their own wars and fighting mine on my knees.

I have friends who are fighting other battles for their children.  Some are even doing battle to have children to fight for.  Not one of us has it better or worse.  We are all warrior mamas, our faces colored with finger paint, our bodies guarded by foam shields, our hands wielding glowing light sabers and turbo charged Nerf guns.
We are fighting against
sickness and sadness,
disabilities and disappointments,
anger and anxiety,
school struggles and sobriety stealers.

Maybe you have a child you are fighting for - or a spouse or a parent or a friend.
Maybe today it will help you to know you are not alone.

Yes, we carry hopeful gratitude in our hearts but we also carry honest words on our lips - some days are just plain hard.  That's okay.  It doesn't mean we are whining or being ungrateful or acting dramatic.  It just means we need to

Sometimes we just need to huddle up together with the perfectly laid plans we had smoldering in the fires of reality and hold on tight to each other.  Let's shed tears, nurse wounds and then get back out on the battlefield knowing that the fight is worth it.   Knowing that God's presence with us in the battles of today is more important than all the details that will make up our plans for tomorrow.  Trusting that, even through the struggles, where he is leading us is better than anything we could plot out for ourselves.

And while we're at it let's don't forget to stop and enjoy the territory that has already been taken, the spoils that have already been won.  Let's dance in those open fields and tuck away treasures in the pockets of our children.

Nothing valuable is ours without a fight.

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