I explained to Cameron that, although Christ was the son of God and was capable of many miracles, the challenges in our lives serve a valuable purpose. I reminded her that, although he had the ability to save himself from the hands of his executioners and tormentors, he didn't... rather he prayed for their salvation, asking God to forgive them as illustrated in Luke 24:33-35...
33. And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
34. Then said Jesus, Father forgive them; for they know not what they do.
35. And the people stood beholding . And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.
I believe that life's challenges necessitate spiritual growth. The effects of those challenges may result in personal development, but many times the blessings from those "obstacles" contribute to the growth of others. Unfortunately, the answers aren't always forthcoming and many times the meaning behind the experience remains elusive, until - in retrospect - it is clarified. I am an extremely impatient person and inasmuch, can relate to Cameron's frustration. Sometimes, it's not easy to trust the Lord and patiently wait for the answers...
In fact, I hate to wait! I have no patience. I've always been this way. As a child, I would get so excited about Christmas that I'd scavenge the house for stowed shopping bags and on the rare occasion when I didn't find anything, I'd wait for the wrapped merchandise to appear under the tree... Then, like a predator on the hunt, I'd wait for an opportunity to present itself, open them up, peek, re wrap them, and strategically place them back under the tree. It's not surprising that I was also the child in the backseat of the car on family road trips repeatedly asking the questions that all parents love to hear... "how many more miles?"... and ... "How much longer?"
Not much has changed in my life. Although my circumstances are different, my behavior remains consistent. I routinely find myself huffing and puffing, fussing and cussing while waiting on a traffic light... or throwing a tantrum in the car during a rush hour commute home. I'm not proud of the fact that I have - on occasion - abandoned an overloaded shopping cart full of merchandise when encountering tedious lines at the checkout counter, and I'd rather give birth than be placed on hold... So, given my track record, it's not surprising that the Lord would try to teach me patience.
Every challenge in my life seems to be devoted to helping me develop this important quality which has been compounded by the fact that I have spent many years in what I like to refer to as "spiritual special ed", for apparent learning disabilities. My take on the matter has always been that if the Lord wanted me to have patience, he should've created me with it in the first place and saved us both the hassle... A perspective that illustrates my impatience with learning patience.
Whatever the reason, the Lord continues to try to teach me this principle... and I continue to have "developmental delays" in learning it. When it comes to life's challenges, I find myself frequently whining, "How much longer?" And, as always, the Lord's response remains constant... "As long as it takes to get there".
When it comes to major challenges in parenting, I always to turn to my faith for guidance. Often the answers don't come as quickly or as readily as I'd like them to, and I find it nearly impossible to be patient. At these times, I typically start "scavenging for blessings" while trying to dictate the outcome and - in doing so - fail to recognize them altogether.
I have come to realize that faith is a prerequisite to patience and trust is a prerequisite to faith. Trusting the Lord has always been my greatest challenge. I had a dream several years ago that demonstrated this "power struggle". I was at a public pool with my children, watching them play. My babysitter had come along to help me keep an eye on them and was playing with Colton in the water. I was scanning their activities, watching them enjoy the day and when I looked over to where Cole had been, I couldn't see him and I couldn't find the babysitter. I rushed to the side of the pool and looked down into the water and there he was, lying lifeless at the bottom.
I dove in to get him but the pool was unusually deep. I could only get so far before the weight of the water forced me back. I could see him drifting on the bottom and knew that it might already be too late. Panic seized my heart as I realized that my best efforts were futile. I couldn't reach him. I returned to the surface, the sky had clouded over and most of the swimmers were gone. I begged for someone to help.
Suddenly, a man appeared from the darkness. I couldn't see his face but his countenance was familiar. Somehow, I knew that he would be able to reach Colton. He was able to overcome the deep and pull him to the surface.
I seized Colton from his arms and frantically began to administer CPR. I was screaming inside, "God, please don't take him away from me. Please! I can't get through life without him!" I administered a rescue breath and he coughed out a lot of water but never opened his eyes. The sky cleared and I felt the warmth of the sun. I turned to find the man that had helped but he had gone. Then I awoke, not knowing the outcome.
In the days that followed, I began to recognize the spiritual message of my dream. I realized that my efforts, no matter how inadequate they may have appeared to those “standing at the surface”, were appreciated by one much greater… the man who appeared from the darkness with the miraculous ability to help me. I had been so focused on controlling the outcome that I took Cole from his arms before his work was done.
I have been thinking a lot lately about my relationship with Christ, his life, and his ministry. Through this ten year trial with Cameron, I have watched a beautiful spirit wither away in sadness and depression. I have heard her desperate pleas for relief and have found myself reliving that dream... once again pleading... "God, please don't take him away from me. Please! I can't get through life without him." I am learning to trust the Lord. I am trying to resist the urge to "seize Cameron from his arms". I am taking one step at a time... the step that has been prepared, then - through faith - I have resigned myself to an unknown "destination".
We can all find comfort in the fact that there is one who knows each of us better than we know ourselves. He understands what it's like to be criticized and judged and he conquered death so that we can have eternal life. I have come to realize that during my darkest moments, when those “at the surface” fail to understand and are unwilling to help, He is there… but I’ve got to trust him and patiently wait for the answers.
I have shared my testimony with Cameron and tried to teach her spiritual truths. I am saddened by the fact that so many misunderstood, beloved children of God have bought into the idea that being true to themselves will result in the spiritual abandonment of a loving Father in Heaven. Unfortunately, these people share Cameron's feelings of frustration and hopelessness - losing faith in a God that sincerely loves, supports, and understands them.
There is one thing that I know for certain... Cammie didn't come to my home by chance. The Lord assigned Cameron to my care and has blessed me with the experiences that have guided my path. He has helped me to understand his will for her life. I have been blessed to see my child. I am her mother... God trusts me... and no mortal being, standing on the outside of this experience, can possibly have a greater understanding, know my child better, or be more equipped to handle this challenge. From the outside - looking in, It's easy to jump to conclusions about what is right and wrong about someones life, particularly when you don't have to live with the consequences. I have walked everyday with my child, turned to the Lord directly for guidance, and been blessed with the answers that have paved the way to nurturing her spirit.
I know that my Heavenly Father loves me, that Christ is my Savior and Redeemer. I have studied his gospel, his words, his parables, and his teachings. I have a testimony of his love for me and my child. I am at peace in my heart because I have received guidance through each step of our journey. I know that when it seems that nobody else is there... he is.
I don't believe that I know everything with regard to this challenge in my life - rather I am willing to accept that I know NOTHING, humble myself in prayer, turn to faith, and try to be patient as I learn to trust the Lord's guidance. He has blessed my life - and I will not forsake that truth for the opinions of those who think I have fallen so far from grace that I am not entitled to receive it.
I will continue to teach Cameron that she does not have to choose between her innate spiritual being and the love of her Heavenly Father. I will continue to teach her that she is divine. By paving the way for Cameron to love and accept herself, I hope to teach her to recognize the sanctity of the spirit.
Together, she and I will continue to walk hand in hand, one step at a time - as we patiently wait for answers.
Revelations 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him.