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The other day I was thumbing through a newsletter magazine that probably should have been thrown in the garbage a year ago. Although I don't have copious amounts of time on hand to de-clutter, I still found much useful information in this outdated publication. In it I found an article from an adult who has the same diagnosis as my teenage son. He was describing the concept of mentally "powering through" during the times when his life was particularly tough.
"I view 'powering through' as mentally pushing your mind and body to keep moving forward rather than getting bogged down in physical pain," the author states.
It set me to pondering all of the difficult things we face as parents raising these challenged children. There are so many times where we are worn down from the journey, full of sorrow, wondering how we will do this one more day. The mountain seems too tall. The road feels too rugged and long. The only thing we can do for the sake of our children is to keep "powering through."
Yet, there's a right way to go about it and a wrong way to go about it. We can handle the tough places of this parenting journey with a positive mental attitude, committing to getting our minds off of our pain and onto other, more positive places. We can divert our thoughts to something we enjoy, taking the tough times in stride, keeping our chin up knowing that this is just a part of our lot in life. The problem is, it is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.
We may also later discover that this can-do attitude unwittingly facilitates our stuffing of emotions. We press them down good inside, so we can function with clarity. After all, we have no time to fall apart. Someone has to be the grown-up ready to make these decisions at a split second.
While some parts of this self-reliance may sound good at first, depending on our own mental fortitude doesn't necessarily get us very far. What strengthens us and renews our energy for this long-term marathon is knowing Who is cheering us on. Christ renews us with the knowledge that He has been faithful before, so we can trust that He will be faithful again. When we can't press on, He can. Our next step only need be falling into His arms. After all, our own power is microscopic in comparison to His.
He refreshes us. He carries us. Sitting quietly in His presence is that fruit-laden rest stop that keeps us from hitting the wall.
When we power through in His strength, we find ourselves living through seasons of life in ways we literally cannot explain later in life. People who power through in the right way later find themselves asking, "How in the world did we ever get through that?" even though they know the answer in their heart.
Perhaps that is why parents like us so frequently scoff at those who throw us the platitude, "God never gives us more than we can handle." We know that is one of life's greatest lies. No, instead I tell people, "God DOES give us more than we can handle, so we learn to fully rely on Him." If we could power through all of life's greatest difficulties with our own positive mental attitude, we would have no need for God. What reason would we have to build a relationship with our Maker?
God wants to be known by us. He wants to lavish upon us all that we need to press on and through the challenges of this broken world. He is cheering us on, spurring endurance, as He points us to the finish line with its streets of gold.
PRAY: Heavenly Father, thank You for pouring out Your strengthening spirit inside of me. Apart from You, I can't continue. Life is just too hopeless and heavy. Thank You for giving me the endurance I need to get through every difficulty.
~ Barb Dittrich