I have been a believer in Jesus since I was in 3rd grade. I remember giving my life to him in my bed with my mom around Thanksgiving time because I kept saying that I was thankful for Him, but I hadn't yet surrendered my life. Believing and following Jesus has been a journey that has been so worth it, but also very difficult. I have been through many seasons with Him: from being on fire for Him in High School to questioning Him in college to learning to truly love Him to becoming cynical about the Church to being excited about serving Him to desperately needing Him: His presence, His peace, His love, His protection, and His mercy and grace.
Can you guess which season I'm in now? (Hint: the one about desperately needing Him.)
So, since I grew up in the age of "Be on Fire for Jesus," I had verses written on index cards on my mirror. I just never paid attention to them.
Eh, okay, never is a strong word, but it just became a part of my normal. I would look at my mirror and think, "Oh yeah, those verses are there. That's good. I'm glad I have that encouragement on my mirror to remind me of God's power and my worth and value in Him."
But I almost never actually read it. I didn't feel like I truly needed Him.
When we started fostering and then adopted our two loves, I all-of-a-sudden realized that the "being excited about serving Jesus" season was abruptly coming to a halt and the "desperately needing Him" season was approaching. I needed an action plan because my reactions to my children's behavior matters deeply in their healing process. (Though I have to remind myself that there is endless, boundless grace when I surrender this back to God).
I realized that I was getting really anxious and really angry about my children's behavior. I didn't like that what I did wasn't working: all of the preparation and ahead-of-time schedules and including them in meal plans was blowing up in my face because I was trying (and still try) to handle it all on my own. I was trying to be the Savior of my own story and a worker for my own kingdom, and that's just not how God works.
He's the Savior. It's His Story and Kingdom. The pressure is off me.
But I quickly go back to the busy-bee, "I've got to fix it!" mentality. And then the anger and the anxiety builds and builds until I can no longer respond to my children in a way that is for them, that is loving and kind, that keeps in mind the depth of their hurt and the level of compassion that they need, but also guides them in the right direction with conviction.
So, I decided that when I was feeling overly angry or anxious, I would retreat to my bathroom. And one morning, I decided to make notecards with these six verses on them:
Galatians 6:9 (the most encouraging to me in the last year) - So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
Romans 3:3-4a - True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true.
Romans 2:10 - But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile.
Romans 2:4 - Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?
And guess what?
Because this is a season of desperation, a season of longing for hope, renewal, and redemption (and not necessarily experiencing it in large doses), I actually read the verses.
And reading the verses encouraged me to pray. My prayers may be different than your traditional "Dear God" prayers, but let me assure you, I am praying to the God of the Universe in the middle of my mess because the Truth on my Mirror is turning my heart towards Him.
My prayers are often full of my anger, rejection, fear, and anxiety. I lay it all out there. But as I look back on my prayers (I write them in the notes on my phone), I can see that almost always my prayers turn from prayers of total desperation to reminders of truth. In the middle of my chaos and tears, sin and total suffering, God reminds me of TRUTH, and I just pray it back to Him and preach it to myself.
To Moms, Dads, teachers, social workers, foster parents, pastors, the anxious, the down-trodden, those with weary souls and calloused hands:
God's Word has the power to transform you.
He may not change your situation, or your kid's reaction, or the outcome of the trial.
But He will change you.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.