There is a feeling of bitter sweetness in my heart and soul today. As usual, it’s fairly quiet in my house at this hour, and both my son and daughter are still sleeping. It’s sunny, cool and crisp…a true autumn morn, yet we’re still in August, the time of year referred to when I was growing up as ‘the dog days of summer.’ Although weather like this wreaks havoc with my allergies, it’s still beautiful and I enjoy it so much. It’s a refreshing and welcome relief from the 100 plus degree temps we’ve experienced throughout much of June and July. And I’m also grateful for the coolness, as my church is doing a children’s outreach at a church in Trenton all this week, and the building has no air conditioning.
But I digress. Back to the bitter sweetness and the reason for it. Over the weekend, my son’s two best friends slept over, and yesterday at this time, all three were sacked out in my living room. Today, they are not. They are home in their beds, and my son is upstairs in his. Tomorrow, the first of his friends will be leaving for college out in Illinois, so very far away. His brother, my son’s other friend, leaves for college up in Rochester, New York, the following week. For the past month or so, both brothers have talked incessantly to my son about the college experience…and rightly so. It’s a new chapter beginning in their lives, and a much anticipated and exciting time for them. I’m excited for them. But due to some unforeseen mishaps, many miscommunications and a series of unfortunate events, my son will remain behind in New Jersey and not be a part of that experience. For him, college is a dream put on hold for now. I can only imagine how he must feel.
These two young men were the closest friends my son had. They’ve known each other since third grade in Sunday school, and these two brothers were the only ones who ever approached me to inquire as to why my son was so ‘different;’ the only ones who hung in there and remained faithful and true to him even after I explained in detail to them about his genetic disorder, his learning disabilities, his autism. Yes, there’ve been other kids my son has known, from school and church, and has been friendly with -- but they’ve all left for college, or moved away, or grown apart and moved onto other friends. It seems my son is alone. And my heart aches for him. I cry over him a lot lately, although I make sure he doesn’t see or hear me. I put on my brave face and encourage him as much as I can. At the same time, I’ve been begging the Lord to protect my son’s mind and heart from depression, asking Him to send my son some new good, kind, fun friends. Some guys and gals who truly and sincerely love and live for Jesus with everything in them to come alongside my son to encourage and support him; to enjoy him and have fun with him; to protect him, love on him and understand him. I don’t want loneliness or depression to surround my and choke the life out of him. I know his friends will probably come back from college on breaks, but I’m also aware that they’ll be forging and firming up new friendships at their schools, and I fear they may grow away from son, no longer having the same interests and things in common. And my heart aches for this as well.
My son is now too old to be able to attend our church’s youth group. As far as I’ve been able to tell, there’s basically nothing for the young adult community there, unless you’re affiliated with or on some college campus, and then there’s something called InterVarsity. But we’re down to the wire here in getting my son into the career training institute connected to our local community college, and the State agency that we sought out that helps those with disabilities to do this, seriously dropped the ball in my son’s case. At this point in time, I don’t know what will happen next, as the culinary program in which my son wants to enroll at MCCC begins on August 29 and the State agency’s paperwork to get him in is not even close to being completed by them. It’s going to take a true, blue miracle from God, if it’s His will for my son to attend at this time, to move that mountain of paperwork and to orchestrate my son’s admission to the program. And not surprisingly, God has revealed to me a backup plan for him in the mean time.
But it’s the lack of friendships and mentors in my son's life that weighs heavily on my heart, mind and soul these days. I don’t believe my son has ever sincerely and consciously given his life to Jesus, either, and that concerns me deeply, too. So with no true friendships or mentoring relationships with some older godly men (or women), no church group community activities he’s connected or involved in, I fear that my son will just eventually fade away from the church, from the body of Christ -- and ultimately, from the Lord Himself.
Well…I’ve certainly thrown myself into a deep, dark pit here, haven’t I? Yet, it’s when I reach rock-bottom moments like these, my Jesus gently reminds me that He is here, that He can be trusted, that He is faithful and true. “Trust in God, trust also in Me,” was what Jesus told His disciples (John 14:1b). And it’s what He tells me, too. Our great and awesome God loves my son more than I do, and I MUST believe that He did not bring my son through all the difficulties, all the road blocks, all the valleys and wilderness experiences; through all the seemingly impossible situations and dark, rocky, winding roads in his life that I’ve been a witness to, JUST to drop him off and leave him lying alone, discouraged and forgotten by the wayside. That is not in His character.
So I must shake off all of this negativity and keep pressing on, remembering God’s promise to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), holding tightly to my Jesus, Who is the firm and secure anchor for my soul (Hebrews 6:19), and believing that this latest bend in the road will only make my son -- and me -- stronger.
A footnote to this: at the time I finished typing this, I hadn’t yet read my daily devotional from “Jesus Calling,” as I do every morning. Before I got ready to post it, I grabbed another cup of coffee and felt nudged in my spirit to open up the book. No coincidence what today’s devotional reading was about; as my friend Toni would say, this was indeed a ‘God-incidence,’ with Jesus speaking tenderly to me. Here are a few of the highlights from it:
‘Entrust your loved ones to Me; release them into My protective care. They are much safer with Me than in your clinging hands. If you let a loved one become an idol in your heart, you endanger that one -- as well as yourself. I detest idolatry, even in the form of parental love. When you release loved ones to Me, you are free to cling to My hand. My Presence will go with them wherever they go, and I will give them rest. This same Presence stays with you, as you relax and place your trust in Me. Watch to see what I will do.’
Jesus…..I’m trusting. And watching.
You said I'm not alone here.
I said throw me a rope and,
I've had more than enough of the rain and the cold and I wanna give up and,
I know, I know, I know without hope,
I'll only sink, not swim.
And the current here is stronger now, than I remember.
And I'm crying for You to help.
Please save me.
When I feel like I am drifting away,
Sinking down, the sails aren't shipping today,
I'm about to lose my way,
You anchor, anchor me down.
Looking out, the skies are turning to gray,
All around the tide is pulling away,
Just about to lose my way,
You anchor, anchor me down. ~ Anchor, by Satellites and Sirens