When Sonny (now 15!) was little bitty, he was so attached to me. It was impossible to say bye to him without major separation anxiety. No amount of assurances that I’d be back calmed his fears and crying. The only way I could get away from the house without a meltdown from him and torment in my own heart, was to just sneak out and leave the fall-out for Dwight to deal with. It was better that I didn’t know or see the trauma I felt I was causing.
I had carried Sonny ALL the time — even after he had learned to walk. What else could I do? That little face? Those pleading eyes and little arms reaching up? Then, seeing his happiness when I picked him up??? Of course that’s what I did. I wanted him to feel secure, safe and loved.
But changes were coming and I had to prepare him. His brother Samuel would be born in a few short months, so my arms wouldn’t be as available as they had been. Even if there hadn’t been a new baby on the way, it was critical for Sonny to grow up. He’d have to let go of his need to be carried. The feeling of being secure would have to be replaced with knowing he was secure. That’s not easy, though — not even for adults.
One particular day, Sonny and I we were standing on the front porch together, and as usual, he reached up high, wanting to be held. I wanted to pick him up so badly, but instead I sat down beside him, looked into that little face and said,
“If I keep carrying you, your little legs won’t grow strong, so you need to walk.”
Right that moment, I got the strong impression that God was speaking those words to me. It was as if my mind high-lighted them and wrote *Remember this* in the margin.
Day after day, I’d remind Sonny why I couldn’t pick him up. I’d say,
“Look at those legs growing strong like a big man’s legs!”
And so, he gradually let go and accepted the new stage of life he was in. He walked and ran and jumped and climbed — which he couldn’t have done if I hadn’t understood that true love might be tough for awhile.
Fast forward through several years of God “carrying” me. I literally felt held in His embrace from the moment of my salvation and every day thereafter for a good 14 years. It wasn’t only a feeling; it was accompanied by Him revealing Himself to me through His Word and His Spirit. He was assuring me daily that I belonged to Him — that I could trust Him. I still went through plenty of hardship and sorrow during that time, yet I felt His presence.
When you’re life has been largely defined by emotional abuse and abandonment, security is hard to come by. I was pretty desperate for a strong feeling of safety and attachment. I can’t help but think that God gave me an extra heaping helping of it to get me by — to deeply imprint Himself in me because a brutal shaking was coming that I couldn’t withstand. My “legs” would have to get stronger.
I suppose it was good that it happened during the worst suffering I’d known, but God seemed to have just snuck out on me and left me in total darkness. The trauma to my heart, mind, soul and body can’t be put into words. I don’t believe for a second that God orchestrated the evil done to me, but I do believe He’s using it for good.
The grief and suffering connected me much more deeply to others. Although I couldn’t sense God’s presence at all — I wasn’t left completely alone. He put Dwight in charge of dealing with the fall-out and what a perfect gentle soul for the job! I adore and respect him even more than I did before.
God also left the fall-out to my family in Christ. I was desperate for my brothers and sisters to help me deal with my fears — and learn to accept this new stage of life. And they did! Of course, some taught me what not to do, but that’s just one of the many ways we learn — and how things go in a fallen world with fallen people.
I’m learning that God will work in ways I least expect — to never think that He can’t use people and methods and means unless they line up with my criteria, because He can and does. There’s a profound peace in that place of trust.
I can’t say that my feelings are great at the moment. It’s Thanksgiving, and to be honest — I sometimes feel more like throwing a fit than giving thanks, because I want to be held. But each day, I’m reminded to let go of my need for a feeling and rest in Him. I’m growing stronger and taking courage moment by moment. I’m walking by faith and believing that what God is doing for me is for my good. I’ve been set free from having my feelings used to manipulate me.
Faith is easy when all is well — when we can feel that God is near. But when the feeling is gone, we learn to trust His Word alone. His Word isn’t subject to change like our feelings are. That’s stronger faith and something to give Him deep thanks for. I may not be able to feel it, but I can declare it.
If you can’t feel Him, can’t sense His presence, and wonder why you’re suffering like you are and He’s not showing up or doesn’t seem to care, I want to encourage you with one simple truth:
If you’re asking for Him, He is there with you.
Don’t believe the lie that you must feel Him for it to be true. It’s true for the simple fact that He promised and His Word has to be enough. Let His promises sustain you rather than looking for and trusting in a feeling. He may put us down so that our legs of faith will grow stronger, but He’ll never leave us or forsake us.
Giving thanks with you and for you, friends — xoxo
In life, faith & art ~ Jamie