Our son beamed as he pointed to the broken drum head hanging on his wall.
“Why are you smiling, Rob? We paid good money for that.”
“Not everyone can drum so hard they damage a Kevlar drum head!” he boasted, still beaming.
Apparently, the destroyed drum head symbolized superior drumming abilities. Rob obviously had enough strength to pierce the bullet-proof material of his drum head, while beating his sticks to the rhythm.
Our sons have been in top physical shape for decades. When Rob and Chris were in fifth and seventh grades (respectively), they earned their black belts in Tae Kwon Do. Both of them continued to work out regularly. Rob went on to earn a black belt in Aikido. Currently he does CrossFit workouts (a grueling fitness regimen of high-intensity movements). Chris works out daily, lifting weights and pushing himself to his limit when running.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have such strength? I’d settle for just a drop of their energy!
It’s inner strength I need most. Join me for a moment as I step into my fantasy world. I’m imagining that I could touch Chris’s muscles and instantly my heart would be incased in steel protection. It could no longer be shattered by sorrow, worry, grief, or torment. Chris’s muscular power would be translated into emotional stamina in my body.
Okay, back to reality…
Raising a child with mental illness (MI) requires unbreakable feelings, emotions that can withstand a tornado of trials. No, we can’t tap into someone else’s physical strength or even borrow their emotional fortitude. Happily, we’ve got a better Source of strength.
Think for a moment about what this verse says: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you” (Romans 8:11).
His Spirit lives in us. Our all-consuming struggles tend to make us feel as if God’s abandoned us. We feel so distant from Him. But, if we truly believe Romans 8:11, then we couldn’t get any closer to our Father. He abides in us.
How do we benefit from His power? Here are just some ways.
Power to calm
Those of us who have received Christ as our Savior have God’s power in us. The Holy Spirit, dwelling in us, will comfort our hearts. The power that created all things and conquered death can surely calm a mom’s aching heart.
Power for emotional strength
“Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:24).
Power for prayer
Our problems seem so complex. At times, we don’t even know how to pray. We’re not alone. Paul also tended to be prayerfully speechless. He offers us the solution in Romans 8:26 when he points out that, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Paul’s recommendation: Turn it over to the Holy Spirit.
“Today, Holy Spirit, I’m too broken to utter a prayer. I’m relying on You to intercede. Thank You for carrying my concerns to God. In Jesus’ name, Amen”
Power to continue
Life that includes MI is so … constant. So daily. We can face another day because we believe that, “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28a).
Power to live by faith
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get so tired of trying to figure out how to deal with MI (how to minister to my son, how to solve the problems, how to get other family members to understand…). Galatians 2:20 gives me hope that I can switch from mental fatigue to faithful living.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
A Whole Pack of Power!
“O Lord, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction…” (Jeremiah 16:19).
“O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places. The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people” (Psalm 68:35).
“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage” (Psalm 84:5).
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians6:10).
Our son, Rob, has tremendous strength because of CrossFit. Jesus’ cross makes us fit. We are divinely Cross Fit. We’re emotionally equipped to deal with whatever MI will do to our kids. Because we face our trials in His power.