Monday, May 20, 2013

Entering Into Rest

I had a strange spiritual experience last night. It wasn't in the realm of the bizarre - because I've been present when others have had similar ones - but this was the first time it had happened to me.

Let me back up a bit. For the past few weeks, my almost-21 daughter has been in a relationship with a young man which she INSISTS isn't sexual but which is, by all observations, obsessional in nature. Six months ago she didn't even know him; now, she declares that he is her best friend. 

This young man has a past that includes a conviction in a court of law for dealing drugs. He maintains relationships with the people he knew while he was in that life, and in the past few weeks, our property has been vandalized, money has been stolen from our house, and narcotics - prescribed for our other child after a major surgery - were stolen as well. He left our house that day and hasn't been back, but she continued to spend time with him. We set down more and more limits - and slowly it became painfully clear that she was choosing her new friends over her family. 

This hasn't been the first time that she has obsessed about a member of the opposite gender. Ever since before she turned 14, this has been happening. As soon as her hormones turned on, there's been a growing fascination with the world that we tried so hard to protect her from - first nicotine and then alcohol, then the lifestyle of the drug addict and the pusher. Of course that lifestyle doesn't just include the acts themselves, but a whole host of destructive behaviors - violence, theft, verbal and physical abuse, pathological lying, riding the edge of the law, cop-baiting, and (needless to say) disrespect of anything or anyone that insists on the truth. 

It was when this young man used her phone and texted me all sorts of obscene insults, accusing me of the most unthinkable things - and then she defended HIM - that I realized that the child I knew, the beautiful, loyal, caring person I had helped to raise, was dead. She had died seven years ago and had been replaced by someone who now had no moral compass. Her toxic behavior and attitudes poisoned relationships with all who cared about her; her friends (the ones who really DID care - one even told me, "She's changed. I don't even know who she is anymore") didn't want to spend time with her anymore.

It was at that point that I allowed myself to grieve.

The pain was beyond anything I had ever felt. And it's not over; it comes in waves.

Anyway, this past Thursday night, after being used as a human ATM for what seemed like the millionth time, we had a conversation with her in which we calmly but firmly told her that she was not allowed back into our house any more. She had made her choice and she couldn't eat her cake and still have it. 

I talked with our pastor about the situation and how I was - we were - reacting to it emotionally. He affirmed our decision - which he said was really the only decision we could have made - and it helped to know that we had his support. Yet there was an ache in my heart and a big heavy ball in my belly that made it difficult to take a deep breath. I would reach down and it would be rock-hard. It never left... it was always there, even in the night.

"Sleeping Baby" photo courtesy of Dynamite Imagery at

Which brings me to last evening at church. In intense prayer for my daughter, and in prayer as well for relief / respite from the pain, Pastor came up behind me and a couple of ladies from the church were there, each holding a hand. I won't go into the details, but my heart felt like it was in labor, the emotional pain was so severe. For well over ten minutes, it was as if I was giving birth to her all over again. I was wet to my shoulders with tears, my breath coming in gasps. All the anguish I had been holding in so as to "be strong" came out ... and I ended up limp, weak and sobbing as prayer continued on behalf of our entire family.

It was exhausting. I had a sense, however, of laying my head on Jesus' shoulder, hearing His heartbeat, and feeling His arm around me as if I were an injured lamb and He the shepherd ... and He was carrying me until I was strong enough to walk on my own.

A fresh wave of tears came welling up, later, as Pastor came over again after my husband was able to come off the stage (he'd been on worship team) and sit beside me. Pastor began to intercede for my husband - our pastor is a true shepherd; he has the ability to sense the emotions people are hiding or even unable to feel - and he began to groan in empathy as he prayed. And suddenly a dear friend was sitting there beside me on the other side, with her arm around me, weeping with us. 

It was a blessed and precious (if strange) time of true openness and fellowship - unlike anything I'd ever experienced in that place before. 

When we got home, I came to my computer and spent some time on Facebook, even crocheted a bit, and tried playing a computer puzzle-game. I think I remember watching some of the national news program on TV.

My husband had to wake me up an hour later to get me to go to bed and sleep. I stumbled through my nightly routine and went to bed. 

When I awoke, something felt different. I was laying on my belly, something I have not been able to do for months but especially for the last few days, because of that heavy, hard ball in my belly. 

It was gone.

I reached down to my belly and pushed. It felt spongy - pliable - just like the lower abdomen feels after one has delivered a baby. 

And I could take a deep breath without any pain at all. 

The scriptures talk about "laboring to enter into rest" - and although I know that has a deeper spiritual meaning, I believe that is exactly what happened. 

I had labored, given birth, and now I could rest. 

Just rest - trust - and let Him hold me.

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