Monday, July 18, 2016

Being Still & (not) Knowing

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your vindication as the light,
and your right as the noonday.
Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; [1
Ps 37:5–7

“Be still, and know that I am God.
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge. [Selah] [2]
 Ps 46:10–11

I am a person of many contradictions. During the blistering heat of a Georgia summer, I long for cool breezes from another season. Yet in that very same longed for season, I will dream of flip-flops and long, warm days. I long for rest and respite, but often become restless once fully immersed in it.

As much as I wanted to rest and repose this summer, it is the summer before my son begins high school. My mind simply will not rest. This week has been the Summer Bridge Program, which allows him to visit his new 2000+ student school for orientation daily. As the special needs school bus (you know the “short one”) pulls up in front of our home each morning and he climbs aboard, my soul cries out “Wait! I’m coming too!”

I want to crawl on that bus because they don’t know him. Sure they’ve said he is ready for small regular education classes, but they didn’t know him when the doctor’s said he’d never speak or read. Oh yeah, they can’t think of a reason why he won’t be able to manage the social setting, but I can’t fathom how he is going to manage the cafeteria each day. Because I know him.

I worked on a ministry staff with a very wise man who said to me once, “If you knew what I know you’d never smile again.” That is how I feel about managing my child’s IEP sometimes. It is a delicate balancing act. Anything new is terrifying. During the first two weeks at any new school, we usually crash and burn. My phone hasn’t left my side during this orientation because I am expecting the call. All because I know things. [insert deep, exhausted sigh here]

I finally collapsed in my existential fit, sprawled in my hammock and stared at the trees in my backyard today. “Why do I keep thinking about all the things I know about him Lord? Why can’t I let him try and grow up and have faith that you are on that bus and in those halls? Why don’t I believe that you are in that cafeteria?”

From the same depths of my soul that had been crying to ride on the bus, I heard a new voice saying, “Be still and know” about me.”

I focus a lot on the potential result of any given scenario. Parents of special needs children learn to be proactive. After twelve years of managing this IEP, I am prolifically proactive. Always six steps ahead of everyone else in the room, watching for each possible downside to every choice we make, and then promptly solving that problem. Then doing it again.

When I was told last spring that he could “handle” the regular education setting (after all, he had been on Honor Roll the entire semester) I began to unravel. I think it is because it begins a very different story from the one I have known. I have felt unsettled ever since.

God would have me stop knowing in my own certainty and try a different approach. It goes something like this:
  • Be still and remember who I am. Think about knowing me, and all I have brought you through. I was at the doctor’s appointments with you. I have walked into IEP meeting with you when you thought you were alone. (Ps. 46:10)
  • Take refuge in me. Be still and let me fight for you. (Exodus 14:14)
  • Stay still and be patient as I act. Your son is older now and must learn many ways to advocate for himself on his own. You must learn to be more still and let me be by his side as I have been by yours, and you by his. I am with him.
  • Trust me. I will act. (Ps. 37.5)

Honestly, I don’t know how I am going to make the shift. I’ve been doing this a long time the way I’ve been doing it. And I think God gifted me to do it that way when I needed to. But my almost 16-year-old boy speaks, reads, writes and stays on Honor Roll at school. It’s time to be still and know.

Looks like I’ll be spending lots of time in the hammock.

Father God,
    Thank you for the reminder to be still and remember your greatness. Help me adjust and grow along with my child's needs. I'll need you to be ever near me as I learn to wait for you and to trust you to act. I take refuge in you, my Rock and Redeemer. Amen.

- Vangie Rodenbeck

[1] The Revised Standard Version (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1971), Ps 37:5–7.
[2] The Revised Standard Version (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1971), Ps 46:10–11.


  1. It has been absolutely amazing to me how Noah has grown and succeeded (exceeded) in his still short life and the credit goes to you because God new that you could lead him better than anyone else on the planet. It would be foolish of me to tell you to calm down, because I know myself I couldn't either. When you stop contemplating the outcomes I think then there would be trouble. God is still on the throne and he is leading you still.

  2. Thank you. You have helped me by sharing your journey.