What’s the strangest thing you ever snuggled up to? Mine is a collection of skeletons. When visiting our son’s college science lab, a trio of bones lured me over. I abandoned any attempts to hide behind them and playfully peeked through them for a fun picture.
Those bones are a reminder that an entire nation shares the emotions of moms raising kids with mental illness (MI). God gave Ezekiel the symbolism saying, “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land (Ezekiel 37:11, 14).”
Does that describe how you feel at times? Dried up, without hope, and cut off?
We feel cut off from those whose lives haven’t been devastated by MI. Parents of healthy children could never fully understand our daily challenges and hurts.
What makes us feel dried up at times? I think it’s because we try everything we know to bring about restoration. In our child. In our marriage. In our home. In our heart.
We’re designed to nurture. We thrive on tenderly caring for a hurting child. We’re not equipped to deal with helplessness when our child needs Mom to make it all better. A fact I’ve learned from experience.
When our sons were young, I felt fully equipped to mend any problem. A skinned elbow needed a Band-Aid and a kiss. Trouble with a playmate required listening and assurances that they’d remain friends. Homework struggles presented opportunities for me to apply my teaching skills. A shattered toy could be fixed with glue.
There came a time when my motherly affections couldn’t solve the problem. MI struck Chris. Glue couldn’t restore his joy. A wise word or warm hug couldn’t repair his shattered mind. Only God could repair our son’s emotions, mind, and life. Only God could repair my broken heart.
As I reflected on the word ‘restoration’ I thought about my mother’s pew. She purchased it for a dollar from our church back in the 60’s. Growing up, I loved sitting on her pew because it reminded me of services we attended in that little Episcopal church.
One of my earliest memories is of the back of the pew in church. I couldn’t see over it. So I would play with the hymnal in the rack attached to its back. My finger would trace the design in the wood. I’d peeked over at my mom and dad sitting beside me on the pew. And watch them holding hands as they listened to the sermon.
Years after my father died of cancer, my mother decided to downsize. The purchase of a smaller home meant she had to choose what to keep and what to give away. I found the old pew on her list of things to unload.
“You’re not giving the pew away, are you Mom?”
“Yes, dear,” she answered. “It’s in bad shape.”
How can she part with that pew? She and Dad spent countless Sundays worshipping on that pew.
My husband and I rescued the pew. We found an expert skilled in restoring furniture.
“Do you want me to smooth out these parts?” he asked, pointing to the dents and gashes in the wood.
“Absolutely not! That’s what makes this pew so special,” I replied. “It’s evidence that many heard God’s Word while sitting on this bench.”
Chris’s MI left me like that damaged pew. It pierced my heart. The gashes in my memories are signs of sabotaged perspectives. Times when my focus on God got snagged on earthly concerns. Thankfully, God didn’t discard me. He healed my hurt and transformed my thoughts.
In His restoration process of my heart, God left holy reminders of His faithfulness. Each scar is coupled with healing passages: verses God used to encourage and comfort. The Good Shepherd of Psalm 23:3 continues to restore my soul.
God’s ways surely aren’t like our ways. He allows trials into our lives. Carries us through them, while revealing His faithfulness. Making us stronger by bolstering our faith. Just like a painful procedure I endured as a young child. A procedure that restored a ruptured artery and made it stronger.
An artery in my nose grew quicker than the nose itself. So it would spontaneously start bleeding. All attempts to stop the flow of blood failed. The only way a doctor could stop it was to apply heat to the bleeding point. Thereby sealing it. A scar would leave that spot in the artery stronger.
Similarly, God plugged my gusher of doubt with assurance of His care. At precise moments of despair, the Great Physician revealed His power, presence, and peace. Restoring my faith and making it stronger than ever.
Oh how we need God to breathe new life into us! And how we need to feel settled in our hearts. Ezekiel witnessed God breathe new life into bones. And He promised to settle the Israelites in their own land. That same God can breathe new life into you. He can settle your heart in your own home. We can face another day because His Spirit is in us.
If you need a good cleansing cry, listen to Steve & Annie Chapman’s song ‘Goodnight Kiss.’ The lyrics will take you back to the simpler times of being a mom to toddlers. Times that required endless physical stamina. Times of hurried care. But times filled with precious memories of when you could easily restore what was broken.