By Megan Dale
It was 6:30 am. I had gotten up to go to the bathroom, only to be met by the sight of a rained-out world on a day our extended family had planned to go on an outing together. I didn’t mind the rain much. Heaven knew our bit of Southern California needed it. On my way back to bed I paused and looked out into our garden to see a fat little brown bird hopping around, eyeing the soggy earth in hopeful expectation of finding a meaty feast in the form of a hapless almost-drowned worm.
At the moment I felt like that poor worm. The months previous had seen dark clouds slowly gathering over our little family. Our young son was facing developmental delays that affected his happiness on a daily and sometimes hourly basis in the form of frustrated, heart-wrenching tantrums. He often even awoke in the middle of the night crying out. When he was himself, he was a sweet, sensitive, affectionate, and delightful little boy. But we needed to know more about his challenges so we could better meet his growing needs, and we needed to know now, while he was still young and malleable, before the secondary and sometimes more tragic effects of low self-esteem and depression entered his tender little life as a result of his challenges.
To make matters even more challenging for us, four days earlier my husband and I had received the news that his place of employment would not be available for much longer, and as a result we would have to find a new job and a new house. In the past I had always leaped with dizzy anticipation into the arms of an unknown future, hopping the globe and chasing my destiny wherever the breeze seemed to blow me. But now I cowered in the face of such a major change coming right at this crucial time in my son’s life.
Four days had seemed like four years as I clung hour by hour to some straw of hope, usually in the form of a Scripture or quotation, in the midst of the deluge. So many great men and women down through the ages faced dark and trying times, and lived to write anecdotes or poems or hymns about them, and I clung to each one now. Sometimes I quoted one line over and over, like a mantra, just to keep my presence of mind as I continued to care for my children and tend to household duties. It was working, too.
Standing in my doorway, looking at that little brown bird, I heard the voice of comfort I have come to know so well as my Savior’s. “You’re not the earthworm, dear, but the bird. The rains and storms that I have allowed to fall on your world have provided for you a feast that you would otherwise have to dig for.” Suddenly my perspective changed. Jesus was bringing about a spiritual feast in our lives through this seemingly dark and dreary time. Treasures we would normally have to dig for were coming to the surface, the special gifts of greater closeness to each other, greater love and appreciation for our friends and family, and a fervent desire to commit my daily needs and fears to Jesus in prayer.
Has the rain stopped? Not yet. Many challenges still lie ahead of us on all fronts. But we will remain bright and happy little birds even through the rain, because odd as it may sound, we’re feasting on worms!
P.S.: As if on cue, the day after my rainy day revelation, our neighbor’s eight-year-old bounded up to me and held out a handful of wiggly worms. “There’s tons more in the leaf pile if you want some,” he suggested.
That’s okay. I’ll stick with the metaphor.
Shaken by Life’s Changes
Helping our children through their growing pains changes us nearly as much as it does them. When those dearest to us go through upheavals, it affects us too.
We can’t escape changes, but we can learn to make the most of them. Here’s how:
§ Identify the issues. Separate the aspects you have some control over from those you don’t, and commit all aspects to God, who is ultimately in control of everything.
§ Understand the issues. Differentiate between the practical aspects and the emotional, and deal with each accordingly. Together they may seem overwhelming, but individually they are usually manageable.
§ Keep an open mind. What you’ve been doing or the way you’ve been doing it may have worked reasonably well so far, but there may be better alternatives.
§ Enlist God’s help. Circumstances may overwhelm you, but God cannot be overwhelmed. “There are some things that people cannot do, but God can do anything.” That’s the God factor.
§ Stay positive. Focus on the opportunities, not the obstacles.
§ Find and give support. Communicate and find ways to make things work out to everyone’s advantage.
§ Be patient. Progress is often a three-step process—one step back and two steps forward.
§ Think long-term. “He [God] who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”