Amazing Grace is one of my all-time favorite songs. Written by a former slave-trader who lived a less- than-stellar life before he met Christ, this usage defines grace as God’s eternal, life-saving, undeserved favor. The origins of grace in Latin are related to thankfulness—and in Greek, to rejoicing.
God is thankful and rejoices over us when we recognize and accept his graciousness (Isaiah 62:5). In return, we are to be a thankful and rejoicing people (Isaiah 61:10).
Today I am that sort of person—thankful and rejoicing because of God’s grace. Just recently He handed me a week full of blessings for no particular reason as far as I know. I think He just loves me:). But before I describe the blessings, I need to mention the contrast of the week before last. That week was characterized by fear.
Fear is a gift (not!) I give to myself.
I know fear. Anxiety may be a better word for what I experience, but fear is the core emotion. This time it was brought on by the anticipation of an anniversary trip with my husband to the New England Coast. The trip itself was not the stressor. The stressor was preparing for the trip and feeling okay with leaving the kids at home. Special-needs moms know this stress well. Will the kids adjust? Will they behave? How will the caretakers handle a meltdown? Will they recognize critical signs or symptoms? What if the plane goes down or my husband or I don’t return from our trip? How will anyone else help my children when only I know what they really need?
Our kids are actually young adults now so they took care of themselves when we traveled this time. That in itself is a a measure of God’s amazing grace, although it also brings into play its own set of concerns. One of our children still can get seriously anxious and depressed when we leave—but nobody else would know because she’ll rarely share those feelings with others. The other child relies on us for complicated decision-making, and sometimes, for basic common sense. These kids are not ready to live on their own without their parents picking up and piecing together some missing links. This means I am still concerned about the plane going down.
I have one other fear related to travel. It’s almost too silly to mention, but I’ll do it anyway. I have a fear of bringing the wrong stuff on the trip. Trivial? Yes. Logically worth worry? No. But my brain obsesses about what to pack. It gets stuck on color, style, function and being prepared for potential inconveniences or discomforts. Unfortunately, I do this on most every trip and it always stresses me during the week before our departure.
The only good part of this repeating fear is that every time I travel, God relieves the anxiety. As soon as I get into the car or airplane, God seems to cover my journeys with undeserved favor and blessing. The preparation is done and I suddenly become aware that everybody and everything within my sphere of responsibility is under God’s control. This brings joy and relief. But aren’t those things under His control even when I am in my busy mode of preparation? Yes. Absolutely yes. But I see them more clearly when I physically drive away from my sphere of influence.
Maybe that’s why I noticed when God extended three particularly sweet gifts on this most recent trip.
- While we were gone, a friendship was forged between our daughter, Madeline, and the acquaintance/friend she invited to keep her company while we were away. The willingness of this friend to spend the week with our daughter was a tremendous gift in the first place because Madeline has been without good friends since she developed chronic fatigue, followed by depression and anxiety, six years ago. This friend’s name is Grace. Yes, really. Her name is Grace.
- The second gift was that, for the first time ever, we didn’t receive an anxious call from our daughter while we were away. Can I tell you how long we have waited for that moment? I’d say about 16 years.
- As for me, I packed just the right attire. We had beautiful weather, two safe and easy airplane flights, and a great week of Fall color and sight-seeing.
As special-needs parents, we face challenges that others may not, but the challenges bring opportunities to see God’s gracious handiwork (big and small) when He decides to extend it.
What big or small worries are defining your days right now? Is there relief in sight? It is easier to see God’s grace and provision when under a short-term stressor like travel, but I have been through stressors that lasted for YEARS without relief. I get it. Still, I’ll leave you with these thoughts:
Never give up hope that God will extend some undeserved favor toward you or your loved ones. If you tend to worry, take the next step and trust God anyway. You may or may not feel completely relaxed, but deep down, your heart will be at peace.
Watch for it, because God (now or later) will show you His amazing grace.
Be thankful, joyful, and tell the story of grace and your fears relieved.
Dr. Karen Crum brings hope and practical support to parents through her blog and award-winning book, Persevering Parent: Finding Strength to Raise Your Child with Social, Emotional or Behavioral Challenges. Join Karen on her website or blog at http://www.perseveringparent.com.