Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child. Have fun!
Saturday, January 23, 2016
To my child who is dealing with disappointment
I'm sorry that circumstances are not going as you had planned. I'm sorry that hard work and goal-setting are not producing the outcome you had intended. I'm sorry life looks wide-open and out-of-control and downright frightening. I'm sorry you're dealing with this crisis of doubt.
I know that many parents of this generation would swoop in and do everything in their power, even things not in their power, to take the pain away, to "fix" it, or to bring the favorable outcome you desire. But you know that's not who I am. I'm not going to do that. And I know you would agree that doing so is not really what you want from me.
I could tell you I'm sending positive thoughts your way but you know how I feel about that. If I have to tell you I'm sending you positive thoughts, that must mean that I usually send negative thoughts, which is really a very scary thing to think about. Besides, my self-esteem isn't great enough to believe that my thoughts have the power to do a thing for your situation. Or anyone's, for that matter.
I could tell you that it's going to be okay but that's just platitudes. I could remind you that God's in control, that His plans are best, and all you need to do is trust. But I won't. Not because it isn't true but because that, also, would sound cliche right now. And because there comes a time when you need to do more than hear it from me; you need to claim it for yourself.
I think that time has come.
So here's what I am going to do, what I have been doing since you told me that your dreams have been crushed, that it looks like you plan is not coming to fruition, and that others you know are getting what you wanted. You didn't use that many words. You didn't need to. Your words, and more importantly, your body language, said much more. You are, after all, an actor. Only you weren't acting. My heart hurt for you and there was nothing I could say in that moment. Nothing that you wanted me to say. So I prayed. But I didn't pray that God would wrap this all up quickly and easily. I wanted to do that. But more than wanting you to be happy, I wanted you to be joyful. Joy doesn't come from circumstances, not even from getting-everything-you-want, smooth-sailing circumstances. Joy comes through the rough parts of life. Things like prison and whippings and ship wrecks. If Paul could be joyful through all of that, then I can pray that my children find joy in the disappointments of their lives which will most likely not come anywhere close to Paul's experiences. And so this is how I prayed, and continue to pray.
I prayed that you would take your burdens to God. Not to me, not to Dad, not to your most special friends, but to God. There's time to take them to the people He has placed in your life, but you need to know that we won't always be here, and that we can fail you in our responses and actions, and that there is only one place you can take your burdens and find them truly lifted. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened. (Matt. 11:28) Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7) And what is the second part of the Matthew passage? Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. No one else you choose to turn to can give you rest; can set your mind at ease. No one.
I prayed that you would trust Him; trust His plans and ways. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8) In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9) Planning is good, working hard is necessary, but ultimately we need to understand that our eyes are finite but that we can trust God's sovereign orchestration of every detail of our lives.
I prayed that you would believe that God has your best interests in mind. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jer. 29:11) When you think of God orchestrating your life, I want you to see Him as a being who is good and has the very best future planned for you even if it looks entirely different from all that you planned. That in actuality, His plans are going to be so much more than you could have asked or imagined. That's something that I can't give you but you have to find it and claim it for your own. It doesn't come from watching your own plans succeed, but from trusting His ways. May you see the blessings He has for you, even when they are not what you hoped they'd be.
I prayed that you would have hope in the waiting. We all have to wait for unfulfilled dreams or unanswered questions. What you do with that waiting will tell a lot about who you are and in what you trust. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God. (Ps. 42: 11) We want to do something when forced to wait, to fix it, to speed things up. But the goal is to learn to use the waiting period to focus solely on God. Doing so will get our minds off the problem, keep us from trying to fix something that probably doesn't need fixed (at least not in our own strength), and will make us teachable. I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. (Ps. 40:1)
I prayed that you would know you can take your tears, your anger, your disappointment, all of it, and give it to God. You can lament. David, known as the one after God's own heart, wrote out lament after lament. God is good. Tell Him everything; the good, the bad, and the ugly. It won't change how He feels about you. He already sees you as worthy; always has and always will. It's good to take it all to His feet and leave it there. He can handle it.
I prayed that your eyes would see the miraculous. Miracles don't come if we don't need them and we certainly don't need them when we have everything so nicely arranged and details are falling into place. Miracles come when we are in a place of need, are willing to step aside and let Jesus come into the situation, and willing to let Him move as He desires. Prepare yourself to see magnificent things!
I prayed that in this place, of seeing your dreams and hopes seemingly crashing down, you would see them for what they truly are - your hopes and dreams - and that you would be willing to give up Self for God. He must become greater; I must become less. (John 3:30) We need to put aside our strivings and plans and allow Him to rule and direct our paths. We can't do that when we are in control, calling the shots, and trying to tell Him what we need. We need to see ourselves for who we truly are, not less (definitely not less!) but certainly not more. He is Lord. We are not. Period.
I prayed that your character would grow through this experience. You've probably had more successes in life so far than most people get in a lifetime. Through it all, you've maintained a humility and character that are exemplary. But there's always room for growth. This is that time. We always have a choice to make in times of frustration and disappointment; we can grow bitter and allow anger to fester in our hearts, or we can grow into character that is more and more Christ-like. That is what I pray for you. If you can do that, you will be a force to be reckoned with and in a place to be used by God.
Most importantly, I pray that in the end God will be glorified - in your life and in this situation.
And as I prayed for you that first night, this is what I saw:
I saw Jesus standing in front of you, facing you, holding a map. He was holding the map so that you couldn't see what was on it. I could see enough of it to see that He had a path marked out for you. I couldn't see the specifics of where it went or it's final destination. I could see twists and turns and at the end, a big, red X. It was like a treasure map and your destination is the treasure!
And then I saw His face. He was smiling. No, smirking. The same look He always gives me when I have worried and stressed about something, finding in the end that not only did He have everything under control, not only did it all work out, but He added something miraculous and unexpected, just for me. A wonderful surprise just for good measure. It's the look we give to someone when we've just planned the most incredible and amazing surprise we could come up with - just because we love them. The other person is in awe and in shock that we could have pulled that off. We look at them, and smile with that silly smirk which says, "Of course I did. Why do you look so confused? Didn't you know that I love you that much?"
So, until He reveals what is under that big red X, I will continue to pray these prayers for you.
God is good.
All the time.
All the time.
God is good.