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Heart Help

stone heart.2

Erie, PA Zoo

Years ago a traumatic event dried up my tears. They no longer flowed. Not even during a tear-jerker of a film. I don’t remember the movie; I only remember I was the only one in the theater not crying over the death of the main character. Chris’s psychotic episode had left me emotionally numb.  As if my heart had turned to stone.

That was so unlike me. I used to be and still am a crying machine. Had I lived in biblical times, I would have been hired to be a wailer (someone paid to cry at funerals)!

I love the verse which assures me that God notices every tear drop. “You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?” [Psalm 56:8 (NKJV)].

Referring to that verse, I once told my pastor, “I’m glad God puts my tears in a bottle.”

“For you, Vicki He uses a pool!” He knew I excelled at weeping.

Undoubtedly, I’m not the only mom raising a child with mental illness (MI) who’s experienced a major change in emotions. Sometimes crying ends because there just aren’t enough tears to make it better. Other times we’re afraid to cry. We fear that one tear will release an ocean of emotions—a tsunami of tears. We worry we’d completely fall apart. So we put a plug on our tears. Staying in control at all cost, is the name of the game – even if that’s not healthy for us.

Crying is a necessary part of our own emotional healing.  We have to move along in our grieving process. But do we dare open the flood gates? Who will help us?

My stone-cold heart softened in the hands of God. I pictured myself as clay in my Father’s hands and allowed Him to mold me into a healed version of myself.

Isaiah 63:8 provides the beautiful picture of our Father’s care.

“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

Imagine our loving Potter reshaping us after we’ve been wounded. Picture comfort pouring from His hands like a salve.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

He comforted me, removed the torment of bad memories, and healed my broken heart.  Was it easy? No. Was it scary? Yes. Did God help me overcome the trauma of my son’s psychotic episode? Yes!

And He’ll do it for you.

 

 

 

No Shame

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How do you feel when you’re at a gathering and parents begin bragging about their kids? A mom raising a child with mental illness (MI) might not feel comfortable sharing achievements like, “My child started eating again…My child smiled and talked cheerfully yesterday…My child doesn’t isolate; he exercises regularly and fixes computer problems…”
We secretly celebrate our child’s victories. Why? Maybe because we think others wouldn’t understand. Honestly, it’s also because we harbor unnecessary shame. The stigma of MI stifles us.
We feel judged. Most of us imagine what others must think about us raising a child with MI. Some have actually been judged. People, who have no clue what challenges we face, have acted like experts. As if sitting on their self-imposed thrones of perfect parenting, sharing their wise advice.
In our thoughts we imagine revenge: You should TRY living just one day in my life and see how you’d cope!
We can related to the psalmist who said, “May all who gloat over my distress be put to shame and confusion; may all who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame and disgrace” (Psalm 35:26).
Surely, those who judge us should be the ones who feel shame. Yet, we’re the ones who are made to feel shame.
We don’t deserve to be judged. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if others could understand? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone could let everyone know we didn’t do anything to cause our child’s MI?
God did just that for Job. The Creator of the universe set Satan straight in his judgment of Job.
“Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.’” (Job 1:8).
Even though Job had God’s stamp of approval, he was still made to feel shame when his friends made accusations. Job felt powerful shame. In his physical condition Job felt emotional torment. He revealed his needless shame by saying, “If I am guilty—woe to me! Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head, for I am full of shame and drowned in my affliction” (Job 10:15).
How can we remove the ugly cloak of shame others place on us? By proclaiming with resolve,
“Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50:7).
The easy-to-read version of Isaiah 50:7 gives us a simpler way to memorize it: “The Lord God will help me, so the bad things they say will not hurt me. I will be strong. I know I will not be disappointed.”
The Lord protects our hearts from needless pain and then fills our hearts with praise.  The blooming trees and flowers remind me that God’s able to restore joy.
“For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations”
(Isaiah 61:11).
Have a shame-free and joyful day!

Rain to Wash Away Confusion

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“Mother Nature is confused,” reported the meteorologist. The roller coaster temperatures of early spring led him to that conclusion.  Weather reporters often get the weather wrong. We can’t blame them. They’re not God. They’re not in control of the weather. So I can excuse a faulty weather prediction.  But I take issue with a false statement. The meteorologist can’t give “Mother Nature” credit for controlling weather.

Even the report, “God is confused” would be inaccurate. God isn’t confused. I’m sure He knew just what He was doing when He sent a burst of snow on April 9th.  Those of us who were weary of winter moaned. But the fact that we have seasons is evidence that God still IS in control.

After Noah finally exited from his ark, he built an alter to the Lord to worship Him. God promised never again to destroy every living thing. He said, As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease” (Genesis 8:22).

When things in our world go wacky, there’s comfort in the knowledge that God still IS in control. We may be confused about what’s happening in our lives. We may wonder why our most fragile child has to struggle with mental illness (MI).  We’re not alone. I’m guessing at some point everyone wonders what’s going on. They ask, “How did I get here?” and “Why is this happening?”

The Israelites wandering in the wilderness became confused when they became hungry. Confusion caused hundreds of thousands of God’s people to complain.

“In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.’” (Exodus 16:2-3).

God had freed them from captivity. But things seemed much worse.

They wondered, How did we get here?  Why is this happening?

I’ll bet you’ve wondered the same thing when you watched your child with MS suffer. In your confusion you may have wondered, How did we get here?  Why is this happening?

Jacob also must have been confused. He had made a deal with Laban to work seven years for him so he could marry Laban’s beautiful daughter, Rachel. But after Jacob fulfilled his end of the bargain, Laban tricked Jacob and gave him his other less-beautiful daughter, Leah. And required Jacob to serve Laban for seven more years to get Rachel as his wife.

Jacob must have wondered, How could this happen to me?  It’s so unfair.

I’ll bet you’ve wondered the same thing. After you’ve invested all your best efforts and your child still has MI, your confusion may have caused you to wonder, How could this happen to me?  It’s so unfair.

Jacob’s son, Joseph must have also been confused. His brothers conspired to kill him and then decided instead to sell him to the Ishmaelites (who later sold him to the Egyptians).

Joseph must have wondered in his confusion, How did I get here? What did I do to deserve this?

But Joseph’s bad times turned good. His master saw that the Lord was with Joseph. So he elevated Joseph to the position of overseer.

“From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field” (Genesis 39:5).

But soon Joseph’s good time turned bad again. Potiphar’s wife wanted Joseph to lie with her. When he refused, she falsely accused him of a crime. And Potiphar threw him into prison.  Here’s what Joseph said to one of his fellow captives, a butler:

“I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.” (Genesis 40:15).

Joseph was echoing his father’s confusion as he wondered, How could this happen to me?  It’s so unfair.

After two years, Pharaoh called for Joseph to be taken out of the dungeon to interpret his dream. God gave Joseph the interpretation of the dream and its meaning. Pharaoh elevated Joseph to be over his house, all the people and over all the land of Egypt. Things were once again good in Joseph’s life.

Where was God during all Joseph’s trials? Had God abandoned him during the tough times? Through good and bad time, the Bible tells us that the Lord was with Joseph (Genesis 39:2-3, 21).

During our darkest days, we may also wonder, Where is God? No matter what the weather, the seasons are proof God is real and He is with us.

“But God was always there doing the good things that prove he is real. He gives you rain from heaven and good harvests at the right times. He gives you plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” [Acts 14:17 (ERV)].

Dear Father, remove all confusion from our minds. Fill our hearts with joy once again. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

What can we do in the face of threats?

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He is our light & salvation.

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He is our light & salvation.

Rock

He is our light & salvation.

God.stronghold

He is our light & salvation.

The bombings in Brussels happened so far from us, yet the reality of such an attack weighs heavy in our minds. Americans know that terrorism can happen anywhere. So we can relate to the fear that’s engulfed the people of Brussels. Certainly, we can’t know the terror they experienced and are still feeling. But media reports give us some idea.

FOX News Network’s online article, “At least 31 killed in terror attacks at Brussels airport, Metro station” describes the horror travelers witnessed today. The scene was described as harrowing, with blood everywhere. Like a war scene.  There was confusion, chaos, and crying. The exploding bombs sparked panic. People ran to escape, but were unsure where to flee. Some were left dazed. Most were filled with fear.

Horrific events like this put things into perspective. Moms raising kids with mental illness (MI) may know one kind of fear. The kind that grips a mother’s heart, day in and day out. Fear of what might happen next. Many worry their child’s life will be lost to suicide or to a drug overdose. Many feel their child’s life has already been lost, in a sense, to MI.

Most of us haven’t been victims of mass destruction.  We watch the news and can only imagine such terror. We hear witnesses’ accounts of how life had been suddenly ravaged. And we begin to pray for them.

All of humanity holds their breath, wondering where the next attack will hit. But we’re all determined not to give into the taunting fear.  So we grapple with this question: What can we do in the face of threats?

Fear is fear. It’s an emotion that contaminates our calm at one time or another. Countless stories in the Bible tell of fear triggered by approaching threats. God has included those stories so we have examples of how to respond. We can open the scriptures and hear some of those heroes whisper words of wisdom.


Abraham shows us how to handle fear.

Abraham “did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:20-21). 

I wondered if I could be as “fully persuaded.”

How do people get persuaded? I contemplated. Undeniable facts are presented. So I reasoned:  if I want to have that same unshakable faith, I should reflect on the undeniable facts about God. He is real. He cares for me and my loved ones. He will never leave me. He has power to do what He has promised.


Still I needed more of a pep talk from another Bible hero. I found it in 2 Chronicles 20.

Jehoshaphat shows us how to face fear.

One king knew what it was like to face an attack from Syria (and other armies). Notice how he felt and what he did.

First: “Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord” (2 Chronicles 20:3-4).

That’s what the citizens of Brussels and all over the world are doing: seeking help from the Lord, and gathering together to pray. That’s what a mom can do as well. Seek the Lord and ask others to pray.

Next: Jehoshaphat acknowledged God’s power and remembered what His past victories. He said, “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?” (2 Chronicles 20:6-7).

To bolster our faith, we can also reflect on what God has done.

We can also acknowledge God’s power and remember how He has worked in our lives and in the lives of our kids.

After that: Jehoshaphat made a remarkable statement. He boldly proclaimed that, “If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us” (2 Chronicles 20:9).

His was a declaration of faith in God, no matter what. Jehoshaphat knew that details and situations don’t change God. No matter what, he believed God would hear and save them. Jehoshaphat’s example inspires us to also believe that God will hear and save us from our troubles.

Next: Jehoshaphat told God why he was afraid, and asked God to provide wisdom and victory.

“O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You” (2 Chronicles 20:12).

Likewise, we can also tell God why we’re afraid, and ask God to provide wisdom and victory.

Following that:  Jehoshaphat, even before he went to fight his enemies, bowed before the Lord and worshipped. He even appointed people to sing praises to God.

“Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high … And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: ‘Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever’”  (2 Chronicles 20:18-19. 21).

Jehoshaphat and his people worshipped God even before knowing the outcome. If he can do that, so can we. By faith, we can worship the Lord even before we know the outcome. Because we know He’s faithful.

How did God respond? The spirit of the Lord said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s’” (2 Chronicles 20:15).

God reminded the people that the battle is His. We can be assured of the same fact: the battle we’re fighting is His. God is bigger than any battle.

Jehoshaphat reassured the people, “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.” (2 Chronicles 20:17).

We can stand still and watch God work, with the assurance that God is with us.

 How did the battle end? God had the armies defeat themselves.

“The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another. When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped” (2 Chronicles 20:23-24).


What we can learn from courageous spies:

There are others in the Bible who show us how to face fear.  The Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land. Before they crossed the border, God gave them instructions.

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites’” (Numbers 13:1-2).

Fear defeated some of the spies because of what they saw. They reported, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are … We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” (Numbers 13:3b-4a).

We’re tempted to look at the giants in our lives and say, “Game over!”

Thankfully Joshua and Caleb kept their focus on the Lord. They reported a future victory, despite the size of the enemy. And bolstered the peoples’ faith by saying, “If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them” (Numbers 14:8-9).

We need not fear; the Lord is with us.


Daniel’s friends show us how to deal with fear. Just being thrown into a fiery furnace, the said, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).

We, too can be certain God will be with us. Regardless of the outcome, we can still worship the king of all Kings.

What did God do? He walked with them in the fire and spared their lives.

The king responded in his astonishment, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25).

God walks with us as we go through burning trials.


 

David and other psalmists show us how to remove all fear.

The psalmists knew about fear. David and others kept their focus on God. Fears of their enemies vanished in light of God’s power.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27: 1).

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2).

“Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken” (Psalm 62:2).

“He will not let you fall. Your Protector will not fall asleep. Israel’s Protector does not get tired. He never sleeps” [Psalm 121:3-4 (ERV)].


I added those verses from psalms to photographs I took. As my gift to you, I’ve included four reminder cards at the beginning of this posting.

Let me leave you with words from Isaiah. I pray they’ll echo in your mind during uncertain times.

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Fear not.

God knows.

parched land

From the ground, the residents may not be able to see the impending doom. But I could see that the river was drying up. That’s because I was in an airplane.

Are you like that river? Are your mental, emotional, and spiritual resources drying up? Is it getting harder and harder to find one more drop of compassion? One more trickle of tenderness? Has your energy evaporated? Are you just so tired? Worn out. Do you fear your caregiving drought is on the horizon?

No one can really tell how dried up you feel, but God knows. Things look different from His vantage point.

There are times we wish that we could just get away. Or at least mentally escape the concerns about our children with mental illness (MI). If only we could refrain from worry, even for just one day. Do our husbands or loved ones know just how much we need a break? Maybe not, but God knows.

Can a mom temporarily put her concerns on pause? If she did, who would attend to the needs of her most vulnerable child?  Isaiah 41:17 promises that “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them” (Isaiah 41:17).

God will not forsake us or our children. God knows we need to be rejuvenated. Isaiah 35:1-2 assures us that God will restore life in a parched land. As we walk in our MI wilderness, we’ll witness God’s restoring power.

“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom …they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God” (Isaiah 35:1-2).

I’ve learned that God is able to provide quiet moments with Him in the midst of chaos or uncertainty. He has arranged times when I could take a mental break from my responsibilities. The key was putting ALL my cares in His hands. The challenge was to trust that God knows all—what I need and what each of my family members need.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

Completely relinquish your child into the hands of God who loves him more, knows all, and has unlimited power. Trust God to give you a much-deserved break. God knows you need it!

Listen to Yalonda Adams’ song, ‘Still I Rise’  where she rejoices that, “God is able to strengthen me.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tfj-UDua9RE

 

Facing Change

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At fourteen, I’d already figured out what I hated most about life.

“I hate change,” I declared.

“Get used to it. Life is full of change,” my mother advised.

Her reply didn’t change my opinion. It was set in stone. If I had anything to do with it, change wouldn’t rule my life. That was that!

Then I grew up. Life happened. Changes smashed my declaration that had been etched in stone.

Not So Bad

I discovered some changes aren’t so bad. Some are even wonderful. Like graduations, new jobs, weddings, and births. But even those changes are bitter-sweet. Each involves more responsibility. Some involve moving away from friends or family.

Unspeakable

Grownups know change is sometimes just hard. Or even devastating. Like when our close friends, Trish and Dave, lost their two-year-old son, Ryan, to drowning. That kind of change triggered unimaginable grief.

As if that loss wasn’t horrible enough, both sets of grandparents were reliving their own nightmares. Trish’s parents and Dave’s parents had lost a child in death as young parents. So, they had already experienced the searing pain that comes with outliving a child.

“You’ve had to face this, Dad. What advice do you have for me?” Dave asked his father right after Ryan died.

“You talk about your faith, Dave. Now you’re going to live it,” Dave’s father gently replied. He knew the only way to survive such a loss was with God’s help.

Decades later, Dave died from cancer. How did Trish deal with being a widow at fifty-eight? With God’s help.

Unexpected

When you were first married, did you envision a care-free Norman Rockwell family with happy and successful children? Maybe you were more realistic in your expectations. Perhaps you were mentally prepared for difficulties. But you never expected your child to have mental illness (MI). Neither did I.

Before I had children, I taught multi-handicapped children. So, my biggest hope was that my children would be “normal” – free of any disabilities.

When our sons were toddlers, my husband and I enjoyed thinking about what professions they’d enter. Both excelled in math, so we kinda thought that maybe they’d gravitate to fields that involved numbers. Like business or accounting.

MI is the kind of change that demolishes dreams. Or does it? Just because our children won’t live a life we anticipated for them, that doesn’t mean they won’t live a meaningful life.

The challenge for us is to adjust to God’s plans for our child’s future. To even embrace the path they take. How can we do that?

Handling Change

Long ago, I attended a workshop for educators that dealt with grief. The speaker said something that helped me understand what I was going through.

“Many things trigger grief. Not only does the loss of life trigger grief, but other things force us to grieve. Like having a child with special needs. That represents the loss of a dream.”

The loss of a dream.

Those words echoed in my mind. I reflected on her statement and realized that I WAS going through the grief process. In a way that gave me hope. That meant I was heading to the final stage: acceptance. With God’s help, I’d eventually get the place where I’d be able to accept change.

What’s Needed Most

As we journey towards acceptance, we need peace. Christ knew that’s what his disciples needed. Jesus appeared to His disciples after He arose from death. The men were grieving and fearful.  John 20:19 tells us that their Lord came to comfort them.

“Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’”

He’s still in the business of comforting His children and offering peace.

Unchanging

If I could go back to my fourteen-year-old self, I’d offer some words of comfort. When teenage Vicki would declare, “I hate change,” I’d reply, “Change will always happen, but God will never change. You can depend on His unchanging love and faithfulness. He’ll always comfort you, remove fear, restore hope, and give you peace.”

Sadness, Depression, and Other Emotions

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Some good news came from the medical community recently. New recommendations have been made regarding screening adults for depression. Why is this good news for moms raising kids with mental illness (MI)? Because the news is elevating awareness about the prevalence of depression. Those whose lives are impacted by a loved one with depression need not feel so alone. Several reporters highlighted the need to remove the stigma surrounding MI.

The time has come to raise awareness:

USA TODAY published an article January 26th about the new guidelines for depression screening in adults. Liz Szabo shared those guidelines in her article, “Task Force: Doctors should screen all adults for depression.”

In that article, Szabo included this quote from one of the task force members.

“‘We’re hoping that our screening guidelines are an impetus to increase awareness that depression is common, it’s painful, it’s costly and it’s treatable,’ said Karina Davidson, a member of the task force and a psychologist in the department of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.”

The new guidelines also addressed depression in pregnant mothers. That has prompted discussions about the difference between baby blues and clinical depression that can follow the birth of a child. So, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about emotions.

Regulating Emotions:

When I taught second graders, I planned several class reinforcement activities. Often the entire class deserved to be rewarded. Instead of handing out stickers, I preferred to involve my students in fun mini-lessons. One of those was an art/music activity.

“Use your crayons to draw on your paper a design that matches the music being played,” I’d instruct.

I’d start by playing a slow, classical song. The students would move their hands slowly across their papers. Even their bodies would sway gently to the music.

Then, I’d switch to a fast, lively tune. That would trigger an instant shift in mood. Suddenly, I’d have 25 bouncing beans for students—all with heads like bobble heads. They’d make short, jerking strokes on their papers.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to shift our child’s mood so easily?

A Biblical Example of Emotional Relief:

There’s one person in the Bible who could ease a king’s torment.

1 Samuel 16:14-16 sets the stage:

“Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. Saul’s attendants said to him, ‘See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.’

God used David to sooth Saul’s torment.

“Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him” (1 Samuel 16:23).

The Power of Music:

Can music be that powerful? It absolutely can be used to minister to a depressed child. I’m not advocating that it be the only strategy used to help a child who is depressed. A multi-disciplinary approach to treatment is necessary, where a team of specialists treat the mind and body. Skilled therapists or counselors can provide encouragement and teach coping strategies. In addition, a psychiatrist can prescribe medication to treat the neurophysiological cause for the depression.

We know it’s also important to address the spiritual well-being of our children. God is in the business of meeting those needs. He answers our prayers and faithfully fulfills His promises. In addition, the Bible gives us another tool to comfort our emotionally fragile children.

His Word is full of references to music. Click here for a list of some of those verses: Music Verses

You look at your child’s despondent face, void of expression, and wonder if playing worship songs will help restore joy. You hope it can provide relief like David’s music did for Saul. I believe it can calm turbulent emotions.

Let me share another anecdote that illustrates the power of music. Years ago, I was the Bible instructor and Assistant Director for an overnight Christian camp for handicapped children. Each summer children with a variety of special needs attended our camp for one week. Campers were assigned to groups according to their age and disabilities. One group consisted of young elementary age boys who had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). To say they were a handful to manage would be an understatement! Their schedule included a mid-day nap or resting period. Not only did those active kids need it, but so did their counselors.

Their senior counselor came to me one day seeking help. His bleary eyes reminded me of how mine looked when I’d pull an all-nighter studying at college.

“The boys won’t sleep or even rest during nap period. PLEASE, you gotta help,” he begged.

“I’ll stop by their cottage during nap period,” I promised.

Later that day, I headed toward their cottage. Before I could see the cottage, I could hear music playing loudly. The closer I got to the cottage, the more I realized the sound was coming from their room. The blasting music had a fast drumbeat. It was the kind of music you’d play at a wedding to get the guests up on their feet to dance. Surely not the kind of music you’d play to help hyperactive children drift off to sleep!

I entered the cottage and unplugged the boom box. I left with the boom box under my arm, calmly assuring the counselor, “You shouldn’t have any more problems.” And he didn’t.

That story shows how music can drastically improve the behavior of children with special needs. If it can be such a powerful behavior-management tool, surely it can calm emotions. Especially worship songs that tell of God’s love and faithfulness. Like Matt Reddman’s song ‘Your Grace Finds Me.’  Allow his lyrics minister to you:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmFJkGEv3Lw