Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Three Words to Get You through Anything

Driving to Taco Bell, I was hit by a tsunami-type question: “Mom, sometimes I don’t know who to trust – you, or Dad. How do I know which one to believe?” The question was partly about faith issues.
My son had a recurring nightmare that I found deeply disturbing. It seemed related to the divorce, and it wouldn’t go away.
One evening, the stress was at an all-time high and everyone was upset. I could see we were on the edge of a massive meltdown.
These situations (and countless others) had one thing in common: I had absolutely no idea how to handle them. Rapid-scanning through memories of parenting classes and books turned up nothing. I was clueless, yet responsible. God. Help. Me.
Every time I’ve asked that, He has. Out of the wide, blank nowhere, I’ve miraculously spoken the exact words my children needed. I’m astonished at God’s simple answers to complex problems. No counseling needed – not that I’m against counseling. We’ve benefitted from it. But sometimes there isn’t time to make an appointment. It’s just me, God, and the crisis.
The child who asked the tsunami question was then only seven. She wasn’t wrestling with faith issues, analyzing, and subsequently owning her faith. She was simply looking for something to trust that overrode the confusion of divided parents. She knew, as Tevye says in Fiddler on the Roof, “They can’t both be right!” I’m very thankful that her father has been supportive of the children’s faith; but she was still sensing deep differences between him and me. I hadn’t a clue how to answer her question without stirring up loyalty conflicts. God, help me!
I believe the Holy Spirit led me to Galatians 1:11-12: “I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.” These verses directed my child’s trust beyond parental authority, to the God who designed our faith. I explained that neither her dad nor I know everything – but the gospel is God’s plan. Neither parent made it up, nor could either parent disprove it. God was bigger than her parents’ differences.
When my son told me his horrific recurring dream, I thought it was too serious for me to solve. I was way out of my depth – another “God help me!” moment. But we prayed, and we found the troubled thoughts that were causing his dream, together with some truths that countered those thoughts. He never dreamed that dream again – it was clear that our conversation had put it completely to rest. And later, a licensed therapist affirmed that part of my analysis was standard in counseling! Who knew?!
When we were approaching meltdown, I told the kids I didn’t know what to do, so we needed to ask God to help us. The children took responsibility and began praying from their hearts. The change in our home was palpable, as we asked God’s forgiveness and thanked Him for His love. One child literally danced around the room, singing and praying. (They were a lot younger then!) A wonderful peace replaced the tension, and I am sure this event strengthened their faith.
It’s unsettling to be out of my depth at times, but the payoff is so great. My kids are learning they really can trust God with anything. And now they’re telling me about some of their own “God help me!” moments! I don’t think I could put a price on that.
“I want to you trust me in your time of trouble, so I can rescue you, and you can give me glory.” – Psalm 50:15


  1. Those responsible yet clueless situations are a real drag as a parent. As you point out so well, also a time to trust God.

  2. Funny . . . as I read the title, but before I got to this page, I thought to myself, what would those three words be for me. They were the ones you wrote about!

  3. How cool is that! Thanks for sharing. ( :