An Honest Confession…
No. It’s not going to be some deep, dark secret. There’s nothing hidden away in the closet. No skeleton, no secret sin, clandestine encounter, or double life that is about to be revealed. Sorry. I’m pretty boring when it comes to all that kind of stuff. I go to work. I go to school. And what little free time I have available to me is spent with my family. I’m not saying I don’t have my own struggles. I’m prone to the same frailties and failings that plague all of us. I wrestle with the same demons. I fight the same temptations. I win some battles and I lose others. Nope, I’m not that different at all. And because of that I want to be honest and up front with all of you…
Most of you who know me understand that this has been a challenging year for me. The past 4 months in particular have been almost overwhelming. For weeks (ok, months) now I have been struggling to just “stay afloat,” fighting furiously against an undertow of difficult circumstances that have sought to drown me in depression and despair. For those of you who might not be aware, here are just a few of the highlights:
- My wife is cancer free but is still fighting her way through the aftermath of that diagnosis. It’s been over a year now and she still has one more surgery left to go (not to mention the daily medication, weekly doctors visits, etc.). I never imagined that this thing would go on for so long. Hard to remember what life was like without it.
- I was convinced my father was dying very recently. He went into the hospital with a tingling sensation in his hands and a month later found him still there in a coma with neither a diagnosis nor any hope that he would ever leave. I still remember that awful night when I had to go up there to help my mother sign the “no resuscitation” paperwork. They pulled the tubes and a week later he woke up, regained his strength, and went home. He should be at the house tomorrow for Christmas. Am I grateful? Without a doubt. But the emotional damage of those 6 weeks left a deep scar on my spirit.
- My son’s autism has grown progressively work. If you have no experience with the condition, that statement probably doesn’t mean much to you. Long story short? We are at wit’s end as parents. We are faced with the very real possibility that medication is the only viable route for now. We want what is best for him but the choices just aren’t simple anymore.
- In addition, factor in a teenager that we had to withdraw from school because of bullying, a job that challenges me for everything I am worth, and the added weight of returning to college full-time at the age of 44… I reached the last week of December tired, torn, and in tatters physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Get the picture? I feel like I have been in a long 12 month wrestling match with God. I don’t understand why everything has become so difficult. I don’t understand why it just seems to constantly get worse. And no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to stop the bleeding. To be perfectly honest, it reached a point of no return last week. In desperation I sent a text message to a few close friends. “Pray for me. I am at a crossroads. I am tired. I am angry… mainly at God. Really need something to happen.” Every last one of my friends sent me back an encouraging text, offering words of support and the promise that they would indeed pray. As for me? I left it in the hands of God. There was nothing else I could do.
That night I prayed with my son (just like we do every night before he gets in the bed). In mid-sentence he interrupted me, “Dad, if God loves me, why does He let bad things happen to me?” I don’t know if my son sensed it but the silence hung for what seemed like an eternity in my mind. Part of me wanted to shake my fist at heaven. Part of me wanted to cry. Another part wanted to look up and shout, “Hey! You want to take this one? We’d both like an answer to that question?” And so, I did my best. I tried to explain providence and compassion to my autistic son. And somewhere in the midst of my fumbling attempt at a theological discourse I had a revelation. I realized that I had allowed my own insecurities and fears to become the defining reality in my life. I had allowed faith to be displaced by fear. I had allowed devotion to become replaced by depression. Instead of quiet confidence I had given my heart over to worry, anger, and disappointment.
And in that moment, a fresh revelation washed over my soul. In the stillness of that moment God reminded me that I was not alone, that I was neither forgotten nor abandoned by Him. He saw my need. He knew my hurts. And even though I couldn’t possibly begin to comprehend it, He still had plans to give me a hope and a future. Yes, this past year has been hard. And no, it doesn’t mean this next year will be any easier. But I know that He is in control and He causes all things to work together for good. That, my friend, is my confession. I believe it. And I’m trusting God to receive it.