My Kid Isn't Perfect | Stephanie Lewis | March 2019

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Have you ever gotten in bed at the end of the day and thought...what just happened? How did I get here? And why me? That moment when you feel like no other mom is in your corner because she does not have all of THIS. When you turn your head to her corner, she is laughing...not at you, but in life, just soaring. Her kids are healthy. Playing. Happy. You start to wonder...what did I do different and where did I go wrong?

Meet our oldest. Carson. Imaginative. Super smart. Introvert. Leader. A dreamer. Huge heart. Perfectionist. A fan of a good fort. And crazy about Karate. Picky eater. Hates to read. Loves to create. A typical kid, for sure.

The physician walked into our cold and sterile room and handed me the paper. The one with my son’s name and date of birth. As my eyes fell down the paper, there was not just one diagnosis. There were three. I scrolled back up to make sure it was him. It was. My heart hit my stomach. There was a ringing in my ears. I could hear the doctor begin to explain, but all I could really hear was...what did I do different and where did I go wrong?

Prior to this, we noticed life *things* creeping in to his little mind. He became anxious. About the world. He became sad. And we didn’t know why. He had it all. As hard as this is to admit, the apple does not fall far from the tree and I had, myself, battled both. It took years in counseling for me to undo the damage. Having been there, done that, I knew I had to reach out for help, but all I could really hear was...what did I do different and where did I go wrong?

I called and scheduled an appointment with a child psychologist, who came recommended. Carson and I walked through the doors. I was so ashamed to do so. I felt like everyone was looking at me. When she called his name, I looked around, surely it was another Carson. It was him. As I stood at the window, I heard her explaining the payment details to me, but all I could really hear was...what did I do different and where did I go wrong?

A year later and second grade. Parent teacher conferences. Carson is a dreamer. Instead of writing his paragraphs, he found a sequin on the floor and traced 300 of them on his paper. This was not new news to us. We redirected (often) at home. Let me define often for you, real quick. He sits at the counter to eat breakfast. Then there is me, nearby because....take a bite, take another bite, eat your breakfast, take a bite. Put your sock on, put your sock on, put your other sock on...are your socks on? My gut...the entire time...this can’t be normal. What does the world say? He is just a boy, but all I could really hear was...what did I do different and where did I go wrong?

Carson’s fears and anxieties became riveting. He was finding it difficult to get along with others. In fact, I dreaded it. I knew it would be me mediating the kids and Carson. His need to be in control of every aspect of play was exhausting. And it’s not well received. It was heartbreaking to watch. He would cry the biggest tears, so angry, and say to me, I can’t help it, it’s just the way I am. I would muster up everything in me not to weep and to speak truth into his little life. You are exactly who God made you to be. You are a leader. You are a creator. You are an amazing friend. But all I could really hear was...what did I do different and where did I go wrong?

The diagnosis. All of them. Listed. One by one. Anxiety/Depression. Oppositional Defiant Disorder. ADHD-inattentive. My eyes filled with tears. I didn’t even know what ODD was, but it explained so much. How, Lord? Why him? Please take it from him and give it to me. I would much rather figure this out with the life experience I have than watch my little 7 year old navigate these big words. We talked about the alternatives to medications. There was not one we had not faithfully explored and given our all. I took the prescription to the pharmacist. I stood there as she explained how this may help and what to expect if it wasn’t, but all I could really hear was...what did I do different and where did I go wrong?

 I looked down and caught a glimpse of scripture tattooed on my foot. 2 Corinthians 12:9. I could hear the scripture, God’s grace is sufficient for you, for God’s power is made perfect in your weakness, but what I really heard was God’s grace is sufficient for Carson, for God’s power is made perfect in Carson’s weakness.

That is what I would do different. Instead of viewing our (I use that because we are in this together) weaknesses as handicaps, we will boast all the more gladly in them, we will use them as our platform to show off our God.

We have been studying Genesis with our City Group and this week in particular focused on Isaac and Rebekah’s son, Jacob. Jacob had a dream and caught a vision described in Genesis 28:12-17. He dreamed of a stairway that reached from the Earth up to heaven and he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway. At the top of the stairway stood the Lord.

At the conclusion of the discussion, there were two questions.

1. In what current circumstance have you felt perhaps God is absent? How is Jacob’s vision for you?

2. Knowing that God is _________ shows me that I am ____________.

My walls came down that Sunday in City Group. Through tears. I shared our circumstance with Carson. And not so much that I felt God was absent, but that I had not prayed with an expectant heart. I had not prayed EXPECTING for God to move in Carson’s life.

Jacob’s dream was what I needed to envision for myself. A staircase between me and God. Always open. No hindrance. And the Lord at the top, waiting, with arms WIDE open.

The same power that rose Jesus from the grave, lives in ME. What is too big for him?

I shared that knowing God is GOOD; meaning He gives us what is best and does not do harm. This shows me that I am CHOSEN to be Carson’s mom and that His plans for Carson are more than we could ever think, imagine or pray for. I am reminded that this is a marathon. Not a sprint. It will take time. And patience. And Jesus. Carson has so much ground to take. And hand-in-hand we will do it.

I am so grateful for the women who surrounded me as I spoke those words. They cheered for me. They chimed in agreeance to counseling. They were for me at the doctor’s office, even though they weren’t physically there. They told me how they couldn’t wait to see Carson grow. They told me they could sense a calling on his life through this. My best friend prayed through tears over him on behalf of everyone. And then all through the week they kept in touch with encouraging words, scripture and prayers.

So, what circumstance have you felt perhaps God is absent? Have you shared that?

What if we could drop this ugly cloud of shame we feel if our child isn’t perfect...healthy... happy...athletic...just by surrounding ourselves with community and having the courage to share your answer to that question.