Maybe it’s age or maybe it’s the world, but more and more often life brings about challenges. There is always a myriad of issues with health, work, finances and relationships. Working with small business owners I have even seen all of the above wrapped up together.
I have a ton of empathy for people and circumstances. That is why I love being a coach and counselor, but I am not here to commiserate. I believe in all things there is room for gratitude and thanks.
As God tells us in Romans 8:28, he will bring all things together for good for those who believe.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
With Thanksgiving two days away, I wanted to truly focus on this promise in Scripture.
God says it, but do we believe it?
Is it just words to repeat to someone else going through a hard time but we don’t necessarily believe it ourselves?
Remembering to Look Back
This is a time when I try to really adjust my rear view mirror.
The one that will show me when these promises came true in the past.
The rear view of difficult circumstance that had a silver lining.
The picture of that straight path after that unintentional swerve.
When I can put my rear view mirror in focus, I know this promise of God’s to be true. He has shown us many, many times, yet when we are facing giants ahead of us it is difficult to remember to look back.
We have to purposefully do so.
Here is a recent example of what I mean.
In 2013, my 17-year-old daughter told us she was pregnant. As a parent, I don’t even need to explain to you the challenge that was presented after those few words were uttered. I desperately needed a rear view mirror that would tell me it would “come together for good.” This was a new challenge in all of our family. How could I rest on this promise. This was different. This was my family.
5 Principles I Learned to Lean On
Here is the path and the principals that I tried to lean on and learn, pulling in every bit of faith and counseling experience I could muster.
1. I prayed “Please Lord, don’t let us make it worse.” Seriously, that was the repeated prayer for about two months. It doesn’t take a lot to make it worse does it? A little judgement and a lot of screaming can lead a bad situation right into Satan’s game plan. We sort of put our distraught on ice. And my daughter did an incredible job of “not” making it worse, which helped us to not make it worse!
2. We focused on what we had to do and should do. In triage, you must prioritize treatment to ensure the maximum # of survivors. We had to focus on tangible priorities like our daughter’s health, her mindset and her school situation. I really, really needed her to know that she had a choice—-this could be a swerve in the road and she could still get on the right path and have God’s hand on her life going forward, or she could fall backward into the abyss of continued bad decision-making.
3. We all needed to respond in love. We could constantly shame her and project a lifetime of hardship and heartache into her future, or we could rally around her, help her plan, hold her accountable and support her wise choices. I am quite sure we were not perfect in this, but we did love her and rally around her. And she loved her daughter from inception by putting her first. My daughter chose to finish high school in a school setting. She had to leave her private Christian high school 5 days before her senior year and enroll herself at the public school in our district. She chose to go to a new school with 600 kids in her senior class (vs. 600 kids in her whole high school) who she didn’t know, and would meet with a growing stomach. She chose immediately to have and keep her baby (Praise God). She chose to stay at home with us and accept our help and guidance. I think this is the critical crossroad for most families in this situation. Our response to our child influences her decision at this crossroad. I firmly believe love keeps them on the right path. (Love doesn’t mean entitlement or enabling in my definition by the way.)
4. We needed to follow Jesus forward. Each decision that we faced we had to pray about and think about what Jesus would want us to do. This was hard. Yes, you should apply to college and begin right after high school. No, you shouldn’t get a job, you should focus on school and the baby. They were not all black and white decisions. Many weren’t choosing between sin and not sinning. They were making the best choices given the circumstances and fighting the urge to let consequences pile up.
5. We needed to anticipate and accept the silver lining. We knew that the path had just become really cluttered for our daughter. It truly broke my heart because she was my priority and this is not what I had hoped for her path. I didn’t want her to have to have such a rough road. This was supposed to be the time in her life for fun and figuring out her future. This was supposed to be the choice of many paths to choose from. Her mistake closed several paths for her. That made it hard to look forward to the blessing that was to come. We knew logically that the baby was going to be a blessing. We also knew it was going to be a hard road. We set our minds on the blessing that would be Addison Grace.
Turning Hard Circumstances into Reasons for Thanks
Addison Grace was born in February of this year. Katie, my daughter, graduated with the top honors in her new high school and walked on time with her class in early May. She began LSU this fall on schedule.
Addison Grace is enough to give thanks for this Thanksgiving… and the next ten or twenty. She is the light of our lives. When I say “our” I mean me, my husband, my daughter, Addison’s father and many more.
It is just my opinion, but I do believe Katie is happier than I have ever seen her. She has quite a difficult schedule, and although she and Addison live with us, she is 100% the mom. I am only Nana. And I am taking full advantage of being able to play, love and hand back the baby.
God has been with us and gracious throughout.
- Katie learned a whole new level of responsibility.
- She (Katie) is closer to God now than I have ever seen her.
- Katie continues to persevere and go after her dreams, trusting that she can have a straight path after her swerve.
- We have new life and love in our family and home.
- Addison started sleeping through the night at 8 weeks – God only gives us what we can handle. (I had to add this one in!)
I have never been more proud of my daughter as how she has returned to God’s path, taken full responsibility, and become such a loving, attentive mom.
It is more than enough to be thankful. It is weird, because you want to say you would never wish this path on your child. As a parent you never would want to face it. But in the rearview mirror and with Addison Grace securely in the car seat, I could never imagine going back and taking a different path.
There are reasons for the things that happen in our life. Some we cause and some we don’t. Regardless of the cause, we can rest assured that if we stay focused on God, or re-focus after our swerve, He is there.
He is faithful.
He loves us.
And He will in some way turn all things to good for those who believe.
Thanks be to God.