I'm a doer. It's in my DNA.
When I'm making plans, giving directions or doing something, anything—especially when it comes to my kids—I feel like I'm being effective and productive.
Since the time my son, Micah, was a baby, these qualities have served him well.
Micah has cystic fibrosis, a progressive disease that affects his lung function and digestion. Medication routines and therapy are daily, complicated and, above all, incredibly necessary to his long-term health and quality of life.
I have always been the one who has taken charge of his care, overseen his therapy and educated him about his disease. As he's gotten older, I've slowly tried to turn more and more of the responsibility for his health over to him.
And I felt completely at peace and comfortable with this arrangement. Yes, the "doer" was doing less, but Micah was doing more. He was listening and following through on my instructions. I still felt in control of his disease.
It was working beautifully—until this year when Micah has begun fighting doing his treatments.
He's 16. What he's going through is totally normal teenager stuff. Totally normal human stuff. Who wouldn't be tired of all the chest therapy, inhaled medications, needle sticks and antibiotics? Who wouldn't want to pretend—if only for a day—that cystic fibrosis was not a part of reality?
The problem is that cystic fibrosis doesn't care that Micah is 16. It is completely uninterested that he's tired of it and would like it to just go away, please. No. It simply marches on its merry way, continuing to blaze its well-worn path of ugliness through his body.
My first instinct has been to nag, remind, lecture and control. To emphasize over and over again, the importance of doing his treatments. ("Yes, I know, Mom." Rolls eyes.)
Remember the teacher in the old Charlie Brown cartoons? You could hear her talking, but her voice was distorted and muffled?
Yep. That's me. To Micah, I've often become the Charlie Brown teacher.
Not too long ago, I was talking to a friend about how I felt guilty when I wasn't on top of Micah's medication routine all the time.
Calmly and sweetly, she asked me a few penetrating questions, "Melinda, how old is Micah?"
"Does he know when and how to do his medication routines?"
"Does he understand the importance and reasons for doing them?"
"Have you supported him in every way possible?"
"So, please explain to me how you have not done your job."
"But the stakes are so high," I argued. "If he doesn't do his medication, he could get sick. Really sick."
Without hesitating for a moment, she asked me something like this, "So, are you going to go with Micah to college? He's not going to live with you forever. Now is the time for him to own it, while he's still under your roof."
Yes, but what if he doesn't "own it"? It could mean that he will get sick. It will definitely mean I'm not in control.
But I've begun to realize that was gradually happening anyway. It happened with Molly, my healthy nearly 20-year-old daughter, as she grew up and left home. As she's made mistakes and suffered consequences that have broken my heart. All the questions my friend asked me could essentially apply to Molly as well.
I believe God has been saying to me, "Don't control. Trust Me. Let her go. Let him go. Follow my lead and promptings, but otherwise, trust Me with Molly. Trust Me with Micah. They are my children."
So what does that look like? Well, I have to ask God everyday to show me. Sometimes He tells me to give Micah a gentle reminder. Sometimes, He tells me to be more forceful. Sometimes He tells me to back off and be quiet. Sometimes He brings to mind someone wise, godly and wonderful, who also has cystic fibrosis, who can pour some firsthand wisdom and knowledge of the CF journey into his life.
Mostly, He tells me to not be in charge. Gulp.
The enemy tries to convince us that all outcomes rest on our shoulders. That if our kids fail or get sick, it's all our fault. If they make mistakes or rebel against what we're taught them, it's because we haven't done our job.
Trusting God means that I believe that He is in charge of outcomes. Nothing takes Him by surprise. He will work all things for their good, even the wandering, bumpy, rebellious periods. Maybe especially those. Whatever pain or consequences they experience may be excruciating for us to watch. However, the outcome is always under their Father's loving direction.
I don't type those words lightly. They are fruit of many sleepless nights and frustrated, tear-filled prayers.
My job is just to obey. Even if that means doing nothing. Or doing less. Or trusting Him to use others to do what I cannot.
If I do that, I've done my job.
Melinda's new book, Invisible Wounds: Hope While You're Hurting is available on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback.
Melinda Means is a weary soul in need of refreshment from the only Source who can quench our thirst. After years of chronic pain and questioning God’s plan, she has found the joy of seeking the Healer more than the healing.
She is Women’s Director at her church, author of Invisible Wounds: Hope While You're Healing and co-author of Mothering From Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family (Bethany House, 2015). Also a professional speaker and writing coach, Melinda has been featured on Faith Radio and 100 Huntley Street, as well as numerous other radio outlets. She and husband Mike are parents to two teenagers, Molly and Micah.