When I was a kid, trick or treating had some crazy traditions.
One neighbor made caramel apples for us.. but we had to come in for a visit. (Yes.. our mom was with us..)
Another stop gave full candy bars… but we had to tell a joke.
And yet another stop we had to tell a Bible verse.
Now after years of Sunday school and Vacation Bible school.. I knew a lot of verses.. but one that I loved to recite?
“Jesus wept.” John 11:35
I know it doesn’t sound amusing.. but for a kid? Finding the shortest Bible verse seemed like a challenge…
I got the same big treat as my siblings who recites longer verses…
But as I grew up?
That verse came to mean a lot to my heart.
My superpower is feeling other people’s emotions…
…I cry a lot…
For most of my childhood and teenage years? This embarrassed me … and I fought to control those tears.
But this verse? Jesus wept. It echoed through my mind every time I teared up. I mean? If it was ok for Jesus… a grown man.. to cry in public because He was sad? If it was acceptable for the Son of God to weep openly… even though he knew that God had everything under control? Even though He KNEW that everything would work together and be beautiful … in its time?
If it was ok for Jesus to weep … even though He hadn’t lost faith in God?
Then maybe.. just maybe…?
It was OK for me to cry when I was overwhelmed.
A few weeks ago, a friend asked me to speak at her church on Mother’s Day (..ha.. I know.. it was more than a few weeks…) about my experience in parenting. How parenting a strong willed, independent sassy daughter and a son with autism (and a side of mood disorders) changed my life.
My first response was… I can’t do that… I’ll cry… in front of a whole congregation of people…
… just like Jesus did…
Then my second response… what would I talk about? How do you take 21 years of trials… errors… tears… laughter… and love… and condense it into 20 minutes?
The day I was to speak at the church was the day before my son was scheduled to start “college”. The day before we were to move my son into a dorm and he was to begin his road to independence.
Sooo… it seemed fitting to talk about how we had moved on from each disappointment… toward hope and a future. How we had taken each path we were on and looked for some good that we could do while we were there.
So I based my message on my other favorite verse…
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
In front of this church congregation… I talked about how I had great plans for my life… plans to change the world… and how those plans did not turn out the way I had thought they would.
My life was nothing how I planned.
I love my life… but it is not the life I had planned for myself.
Parenting is always a challenge.. whether it is a sassy, independent, strong willed daughter…. or a son with anxiety, autism and a mood disorder.
I had both.
Every time that my life’s path took a wide turn and took me away from the plans I had made for me and my small family? I would remind myself of this verse.. that God has a plan for me..
.. promising me hope and a future…
So I had accepted each set of changes…
First… I had cried.
Tears to grieve for the death of the plans I had made. I cried out all the frustrations from knowing that I had to change yet again…
Then I had wiped my tears and looked around… and I’d say to myself.. “While we are here, what good can we do?”
While we are in this new place.. with new plans… what good can we do..?
And yes… I cried…
The day after Mother’s Day?
The day after I spoke about hope and a future?
We took our son to his college. We followed the plans he had made for himself.
The first day of his bright new future…
He didn’t make it.
Four years of planning, and in the matter of 24 hours?
All of our plans for the next year changed.
My son and I…. ?
… we wept….
We wept for our broke dreams… his dreams of going to college and staying in a dorm…. my dreams of seeing him independent … and my dreams of being free to start a career.
Not knowing which way to go… and having to explore different paths…? We both felt a little lost…
…but we wiped our tears… and said… while we are here what good can we do?
Over and over this summer? Our paths have changed…
Over and over this summer? We have cried…
Today… as I feel the sunshine on my face? Today as I see some confidence seep back into my son’s face?
I am reminded once again that God has promised my son a hope and a future…
I am reminded that God has promised ME a hope and a future…
He didn’t promise me the future that I dreamed up for myself… but He promised me it would prosper and not harm me…
Let me dry my tears one more time….
…and see what good we can do….
While we are here…..