It’s rare when a teenager teaches his parent something. That’s what happened when our son, Rob joined the track team in seventh grade. A completely new venture for him.
“Mom, do you wanna come watch our first home meet?” Rob asked.
“Sure. I’ll be there.”
I approached the bleachers with great anticipation. Excitement filled my heart. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach. The gun signaled the start of the race. My face beamed as I watched Rob spring into action. Hope oozed through my tightly-squeezed folded hands. I rocked in pace with his step as if I could help him soar.
Gradually, the pack of runners divided into two. A bunch of fierce competitors bolted ahead with the speed of gazelles. A smaller clump of runners drifted further and further back. I found Rob in that back bunch. Runner after runner overtook him. Every competitor passed him. All but one.
My hands went limp. My heart sunk. I began searching for wise words to give Rob. How could I console him?
Oh well. He tried. But that kind of loss will surely make him want to quit. Should I let him quit?
At the end of the meet, I waited in the car to take Rob home. I spotted him approaching the car and braced myself. Then I noticed he had a bounce in his step and a smile on his face.
“Did you see that Mom? I beat out one kid!” he proudly proclaimed. Grinning as if he’d won.
His words left me speechless. I hadn’t anticipated such an upbeat response. Suddenly my heart was full of pride.
“Yes, Rob. Good job.”
The runners who had overtaken him didn’t discourage him. Because he had a different perspective. His focus wasn’t on the mass of kids who had run faster. Rob rejoiced in the one he had passed.
The next time he ran, I witnessed him pass two runners. The following meet, he passed three. Each race filled his heart with great rejoicing. Always viewing his triumphs instead of defeats.
Rob’s focus taught me how to focus. Not on trials. But on God’s blessings. Not on the cares of this earth. But on future treasures in heaven. Not on huge burdens. But on His power.
As moms raising children with mental illness (MI) we have to deal with our own emotions. Sadness for the turmoil our child experiences. Grief over the loss of our once happy-go-lucky child. Despair due to lack of effective treatments. Frustration because of others who don’t understand: teachers, mental health care workers, siblings, or husbands.
But sorrow doesn’t have to engulf us. Worry doesn’t have to overtake our thoughts. Like Rob, we can choose what to focus on. Each day we can begin with this resolution: with God’s help, I’ll look for the blessings my heavenly Father puts in my life. I’ll keep my mind’s eyes on Him. Searching for His faithfulness and provision.
Some children with mental illness (MI) can’t easily choose their outlook. Some don’t have complete control over their thoughts. Distorted thinking creates false realities. A mind filled with paranoia convinces the person that others seek to harm him. Resulting fears are very real. Their thoughts overtake them.
Darkness may surround us and attempt to overtake us. But we need not be swept away by our circumstances. We need not flail as if drowning in an emotional tsunami. We have the words in Isaiah 35 to comfort our soul. With thoughts firmly fixed on eternity, our sadness fades. Images of life in heaven squelch our sorrow. Hope returns. Once again, we’re able to envision an end to our tears. We picture new bodies without MI. Then our sadness is overtaken by gladness and joy.
“They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away (Isaiah 35:10).”