Monday, December 3, 2007

Wash Away Failure

by Donna L. Watkins

Photo: Bathing Mourning Dove © Donna L. Watkins
The holidays are times when we tend to bring up old memories - good and bad. Depression can be life-threatening. There are too many people living daily lives based on events in the past. Look around and find somebody to lift up during this season. Show them that today is not really what they are seeing. They are just reliving the lies of what is past.

When our only child, Benjamin, left for Oklahoma City on January 1, 1999, at the age of 19, to live with his grandparents, it was like a universe-sized rubber stamp marked my forehead, "Failed!" My entire body, soul and spirit accepted that stamp of failure. I had designed 20 years of my life around being a mother and now it was marked, "Worthless!" Not true!

I grew up an only child and remember not liking babies. As a teenager, three babysitting jobs confirmed that I wasn't cut out for children. I liked work that I could "get done" and move on to the next task. Productivity and performance were of more interest to me.

I entered the corporate world and excelled in it, vowing never to marry or have children. Life was all about work and doing it well. I was never turned down for a job I wanted, and was used to getting rewards for a job well done. That's the corporate world. It's not how life really works on the human level. People are more than the tasks they perform.

Enter Randal. How God Chose My Husband is a story in itself. It was pretty sudden. We met in November and were married the following April. After a year of discomfort with an IUD, I decided to use God as my method of birth control. After all He certainly knew I didn't want children and that I was not mother material.

Seven months later I was pregnant. I was stunned and shocked and I don't think I left that stage for the entire pregnancy. After delivery and a rough few days of mental adjustment, we went home to begin life as a family. I didn't have that natural motherly love, but I begged God for it because I wanted to do this "job" well.

True to my pattern, I began to make motherhood a task-related assignment. God did fill me with so much love for my child, but I don't know that I broke far out of the task mode for the entire season of parenting. I knew if I was going to be a parent, it would be full-time. My perfectionist mind wouldn't allow me to do daycare, so I found ways to use my business skills at home.

Benjamin was a very strong-willed child (you can imagine where those genes came from). He was very active and brilliant and was soon titled ADHD. Drugs weren't an option for us with the ADHD, so we used natural supplements since we had already switched to a natural diet years before when I had EI / MCS.

After Ben had a few tense months in a private kindergarten class, I decided to home school. Ben would pray to do well at school each day and still get a worm in his apple. I didn't see private or public school as an option, so I decided to do it myself, as was my pattern for life. Obviously, teaching was not in my skill set since patience was a virtue I didn't find in my personal files, but I couldn't emotionally handle the suffering he took at school.

Our lives were designed around what we thought was best for Benjamin. Not to imply that our thoughts were actually always best, but you don't get a manual with children, so we did the best we could reading every book on parenting that was written and with much counsel from church leadership. I now think we would've done better to just fast, pray and seek God's answers directly. Hindsight is great!

Being used to getting straight A's in job performance, I had a rough road of it and looking back I don't think I ever held much confidence in anything I did in parenting. It was like a grab-bag of ideas and each morning we would reach in and see what the plan for the day was to be.

My parents both died when Ben was six years old and a couple years later Randal joined the Nature's Sunshine business I had started in the home. Randal's parents rarely agreed with any direction of life we chose. You can't blame them! We seemed to be pioneers with most of the areas of our life. With the love of a grandparent's heart, I'm sure it was very difficult on them, especially being so far away. There were a lot of miles between AL and OK, but there seemed to be a battle going on for what was right for Ben as he grew up.

The road was rocky after Ben completed school, passed his GED, and bought a car of his own. He wasn't a defiant child and he never got into trouble. He's always had a good heart and intentions, but our strong wills clashed daily. He had spent a year at Youth With A Mission schools and didn't have much direction of what his next step was.

When the offer was made from his grandparents for him to come to Oklahoma to live, he was eager to go and receive all the frills that come with the loving mindset of grandparents. He asked us for permission to go and as dazed and bone-tired parents, we agreed. My heart wanted him to have what his heart wanted, even if it was to leave. We never thought about it being permanent, and even now, almost nine years later, it's a mental blur on how it all came to pass.

At the time it felt like "they" had won the battle and we had lost. Even though we were all mentally on the same page - we all loved Ben. All the years of prayer, weekly fasting and dedication to the task had not completed the picture of how we wanted it to be.

We had never pictured this kind of "ending." We didn't feel we could stay in the home we built to have a "place in the woods" for Ben to have room to grow. It just wasn't the same without him, so we moved our business online and moved to Virginia.

These kinds of events can ruin the life that God has for us if we're not careful to stay in His arms. We can't imagine that He "lets" such things happen. Where's the rewards promised for our labors? Where are all the promises made in the Bible that we have clearly etched in our minds that He has not fulfilled?

How can we simply trust Him and know that it all works for our good? As humans, none of this is possible, but with Christ in us, we can do all things, and the joy of our Lord can be our strength.

Life is full of misery moments regardless of whether you're a Christian or not, so why not take what is provided to us and allow Christ to share our burdens? If we choose to continue trusting and obeying our Father, the end of the story will be written with the glory and majesty that surrounds all that God does.

Don't allow the devil to mark your forehead with failure no matter what the issue was in your past. It sinks deep within your mind and affects all that you are and do. Grief will eat your body away. I've certainly had enough of that going on with rheumatoid arthritis. God is faithful to bring us back to issues that have not been settled correctly.

He will bring it to the light of our minds, but we have to choose to give it to the Light. Some of these burdens become very comfortable and familiar to us and it's hard to see what life is like without them. Like a prisoner we desire freedom, but the world outside the bars may look scary since we don't know who we are "out there."

Who are we when these seasons of life are passed? Is that what they call mid-life crisis? The realization that you invested a good portion of your life in something that doesn't look like it produced what you wanted? It didn't bring the perfection and happiness you hoped for. Empty nest syndrome? Who am I now that I'm not a parent? For those of us who live life intensely, we can get real hung up on the past.

Instead a change of perspective is that we get the chance to redesign our lives all over again, and if you listen closely to what God is saying to you, you will create a beautiful masterpiece that will glorify our Father. Many people find they have artistic talents in their later years. We all have it since we are made in the image of God and He was certainly very creative.

Take that sponge and wash away the word FAILURE from your thoughts and paint a brand new picture of who you truly are in Christ. That's anybody you desire to be. Cuddle up in Papa's lap and find out how to create your own masterpiece inside of you. I'm in the studio waiting for you to join me.

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