Some Back Story:
Although I grew up in a Christian home and always believed in God, it wasn’t until the last few years that my spiritual journey really began. I remember Oprah saying that turning 50 was a real game changer in her life. I think you reach a stage when you don’t have the energy or interest in doing things just to keep up appearances…you just become more authentic, accept who you are ….the good, the bad and the ugly. You simply become more unapologetically yourself. I have always been a super reflective person and spend most of my time inside my own head. However, for me this spiritual awakening was not so much about my age as my circumstances.
First and foremost, my underlying belief is this: God is a GOOD God all the time. He does not bring sickness, misfortune, bad luck or death. We live in a world in which bad things happen as a result of Adam & Eve’s decision in the garden. What I do believe is that when bad things happen and we are forced to walk through the storms in life, God can and will use these situations to draw us closer to him. He never brings on misfortune, but he is faithful to bring beauty from the pile of ashes we find ourselves in.
A Place of FEAR:
Our daughter went through a very tough time in grade 7 and 8. Without going into much detail, the circumstances got pretty bad and she was eventually diagnosed with severe depression and an anxiety disorder. She went from Principal’s Honor Roll for over 90% averages to scraping by with 51% in math and science courses. I share this only because when you see your child spiral, distance herself from you and the world in general, you begin to parent from a totally different place ~ FEAR! Fear of losing her, fear of failure, fear of doing/saying the wrong thing, fear of doing too much, fear of not doing enough, fear of being a bad parent, fear of the future, fear that she’ll never get better, fear of bad friend choices, fear of bad life choices, literally fear of everything. This is where I found myself.
I can’t actually explain the strain this put on me and my family. I read books on mental health and parenting. I listened to pod casts and took courses. I spent endless hours and dollars trying to figure it all out. As a mom, that’s what we do. We fix things. I was on a mission and when I’m on a mission, I really lock on. Some how in my mind, I was her only chance. I had to fight for her because she didn’t have the will or energy to fight for herself. It is the most horrible place to be as a parent.
What could possibly be worse than this? Doing anything and everything you can and literally getting no where. The harder I tried, the worse the situation got. She hated life and me even more. Everything I was doing was out of my deep unwavering love for her, but there came a point when my efforts seemed futile, our relationship was a disaster and the tension in our home was almost unbearable. In all honesty, there were times I felt like I didn’t have an ounce of stamina left, I had given everything I had to help this child I loved so much and my payoff was being hated and resented. I just wanted out. Walk. Away. I was completely at the end of myself.
Now, being a person of strong faith, I did my fair share of praying and begging during this time, but it really wasn’t until I was in a place of utter hopelessness that I truly surrendered the situation to God. I was desperate to find answers. I was just so weary and it was in this place of vulnerability that I was finally ready to hand it over to God. Our pastors had been teaching on what a true spiritual fast was all about. The ins and outs, the hows and whys…I knew in my spirit that I needed to fast for Eden and do nothing else but seek God through my fast and that is exactly what I did. I did a 3 day food fast, but more importantly than giving up the food, I committed my fasting time to seeking God. This was really something quite foreign to me and I honestly didn’t really know what I was doing so I surrendered that to him as well.
My Experience with a Spiritual Fast:
Friday, I went to work as usual. Listen to a teaching (past sermon) from my church’s app (The Source Church). On the way home, I listened to another message and watched the Jets game with my husband. My search was set to begin on the Saturday. That morning I got up and said a short prayer asking God to show me how to help Eden, to open my eyes of understanding and guide me into truth. I then proceeded to read from my little devotional book that I used every day. However, what made this day different was that as I read my 5 minute devotional something in the words jumped out at me like never before. I really felt that the Holy Spirit was leading me. I decided to look up the scripture the devotion was referencing and what followed was the most amazing treasure hunt I’d ever been on. Through the words in the bible, God spoke to my spirit leading me from one place to another. Reminding me of things I’d previously read or watched and as I followed, I began to find answers and revelation. This process lasted throughout the weekend and well into the following week when I was finished my fast and back to work. I would turn on the radio (Sirius XM: The Message) or my Spotify playlist and the words in the song would confirm the overwhelming message that he had given me throughout the process, but each new “clue” strengthened the message and my understanding of what he was trying to tell me.
Let me tell you…I was in for a rude awakening! The message was so loud and clear. One of the first places he took me was to the love chapter 1 Corinthians 13. I knew this chapter well, but when I read it on this day I felt like I had been punched in the gut. Here is how it translated for me in that moment:
Without LOVE you are nothing. All your striving and good intentions are driving your daughter away. What YOU perceive as help, she receives as not measuring up. GOD’S MESSAGE WAS CLEAR. Her status and accomplishments do not and will never impact my love for her. Just like God loves us unconditionally, I knew I would LOVE her no matter what… if she passed or failed, became a doctor or worked at Walmart. It simply didn’t matter. All that mattered was that SHE KNEW she was LOVED and VALUED just as she was.
I had perceived all of my efforts to be acts of love and support, but they were really giving her the message that nothing she did was ever good enough. I didn’t trust her. Every time I “checked-in” or offered suggestions, it cut away at her spirit. OUCH! Needless to say I was brought to my knees, literally crippled by my new revelation and understanding. Everything I did, I did out of love and with the best intentions, but the way it was being received was giving the opposite message to my daughter. I don’t think I have ever wept as much as I did that week. I repented to God, my daughter, my family…I was just so off base. It sickened me to the core just knowing how deceived I’d been. My best intentions totally backfiring. How could I have missed the mark so badly? I remember one of the final messages I received from God during that week came through a random song I was listening to on the way to work. This is what God said to me:
I do not mess up. EVER. I have created her in my likeness and image. Who do you even think you are to try to fix MY MASTERPIECE?
I apologized to my daughter and asked for her forgiveness. Then I LOVED on her like never before. Right where she was at. The answer I so desperately sought through books, courses, videos, etc. was that simple: JUST LOVE HER. For the first time in over 3 years, I finally got it….She does not need to be fixed, she’s already perfect. NOT. BROKEN.
I was so convicted in my spirit. Talk about knocking me down a few pegs. It still brings tears to my eyes even though it was a year ago (last January) when we were still in the midst of this fiery battle with depression and anxiety. Let me tell you it almost tore our house down, but God’s grace is always enough. He was there the whole time, he just needed me to seek Him, His answers and His way. When I totally surrendered the situation to him and sought Him first….it was like the mountain moved. I could sense something change instantly in my daughter that day when I sobbed uncontrollably and apologized for all my mistakes in dealing with the situation.
We began to see positive changes almost instantly and by May she declared that she no longer had depression. By September she was off her medication and today is completely happy and fully healed. The healing and freedom was there the whole time. I truly believe that I was in the way. There was a time not much more than a year ago, that I really couldn’t see through the mess. I wanted to believe she would be well, but everything was hard. I share this today because GOD is in the business of making miracles happen. The trouble is that it is often based on our capacity to believe. We limit him with our own unbelief.
A Time to Give Thanks and Celebrate!
Yesterday, we celebrated Eden’s 18th birthday! She is a beautiful young woman both inside and out. She is compassionate, kind, generous and is going to accomplish great things in life. She was robbed of her adolescence and her life was sidetracked for almost 4 years, but we believe God has brought complete restoration for her. She has an awesome group of friends and is in a great school. She is engaged in all life has to offer and together we rejoice in this miracle. His promises are always Yes and Amen!
Seek first the kingdom of God and all things will be added unto you. My mantra….Trust the signature! For what he says is true.
Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heartProverbs 3:5-6 (AMP)
And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].