A Truth Revealed: How God Meets My Needs

About a year and a half ago a friend came for a visit and with her she brought a copy of this beautiful book  as a gift.  While I was immediately drawn to its title, its gorgeous colors, its whimsical layout, after reading the introduction, I knew I wasn’t quite ready to tackle it just yet.  Instead I put it into my nightstand drawer and would occasionally bring it out just to look at it and put it right back where I found it.

A couple of weeks ago, when my marriage had hit rock bottom and I was suddenly sent into a fit of despair, I got it back out.  At the same time, a dear anonymous friend dropped by with a copy of this little book.  Combine the arrival of the book with the state of my marriage and the fact that I had recently been leaving church not only feeling unfulfilled but actually more stressed out than when I had arrived and I knew that I was on a spiritual journey.

It was time to get out the book and actually start doing the work.

greenbackgroundSo far I have only completed two of the forty days.  I’ve been taking a week for each concept.  And that’s okay.  Because during the first week, when I was meditating on truth, some major eye opening occurred for me.  I had a break through and a truth was revealed to me.

A truth that has changed how I view myself, those around me, and my husband.

During the week, while I was meditating on truth, something very important was revealed to me.

For years I’ve been hung up on the many needs my husband wasn’t meeting for me.  I have a deep need to be approved of, to be adored, to be complimented (especially on my talents such as my mothering, my writing, my cooking), and to be told I am smart and capable.  My husband has never fulfilled these needs for me.  I don’t know if it’s because he doesn’t feel like being complimentary or if he doesn’t see me as adorable, smart, a good mother, etc, or if he’s simply in such a pit of his own despair that meeting the needs of someone else is too much.

Regardless of the reason, I’ve spent years constantly reminding God that I needed those needs to be met.  I mean, I’ve read the verses in the Bible telling me how great and special I am.  But let’s get real, those verses weren’t written with me, Mandy, in mind.  You might argue otherwise but it won’t change how I feel about it.  I need validation from someone who is setting out to validate ME, from someone who knows and loves me.  Well, after the years and years of feeling unworthy, unsmart, unpretty, ungoodenough, God revealed to me that He’s been using the other people in my life to fulfill that need.  Um… yeah… I mean, Duh.  Right?

My friends think I’m smart, I’m beautiful, I’m a good mom, a good cook, a good writer, a brilliant artist worthy of praise and admiration.

My children think I’m pretty, funny, awesome, capable, and a supermom.

And there you have it.  There are tons of people in my life who, on a daily basis, are meeting this need.  It’s quite simple.  I have a need.  God is meeting it through his children.  He is using my friends and my kids to fill up that hole.  Any idiot could see that.  Any idiot but me, apparently.

It was wrong of me to expect my husband to meet that need alone.  I have spent all of my teenage and adult years expecting a romantic relationship to fix me, to complete me.  I’ve gone from boy to boy to boy thinking, “Oh, this is the one who will make me unbroken.”  It didn’t work.  It didn’t happen.  It never will.

While the idea of my husband coming to a space where he sees me as beautiful and smart and a brilliant writer and a hilarious comedian and an amazing cook and the best mom in world sounds appealing, it’s no longer my life line.  If he is never able to meet that need, I’ll be okay.  And I won’t check out emotionally and leave the marriage over it any more.  Instead, I’ll focus on the needs he IS meeting.  Important ones.  Like providing for me and my children.  And giving my kids an awesome dad.  And supporting us in our homeschool journey. And loading me up on hugs and kisses and tv watching companionship.  He’s meeting SO MANY of my needs.

And I’ll just let God take care of the needs my husband isn’t able to meet right now.

You Do Better, Too.

This morning I read a post on Facebook about a ten year wedding anniversary and ideas for a trip.  Immediately this sent me spiraling down a hole of anger, hurt and resentment.  A trip!  Are you kidding me?  I would have been happy with a card.  Or a kiss and a “Happy Anniversary”.  Oh the many ways my husband has failed me.

Oh poor me.

Oh how angry I am at him.

Why did I marry someone who would ignore our 10th anniversary?

I deserve better than that.

I talked to him about it.  He reminded me that I didn’t do much better and that it wasn’t all on him.  I told him he has several months to plan on making the 11th anniversary better.  I emphatically said, “Do better” and he said, “Okay, you do better too.”

All the while, he was laying in bed with a very sick four year old.

About half an hour later, after the two of them had drifted off to sleep and I was getting ready for my shower (a rare pleasure these days), I was convicted in a major way.

Suddenly I could barely breathe as I gazed at the two sleeping loves of my life in my bed.SONY DSC

I was overwhelmed with love, not only for my four year old angel baby, but also for the man sleeping next to him.

The man who barely slept all night two nights ago because we had a sick child and he took the sick child into another room so that the rest of us might be saved from the nasty stomach bug.

The man who, after dealing with a feverish, puking child all night drove to Nashville and spent his entire day undergoing a series of physical and written tests in order to be in the running for a new job that would better provide for his family.  The man who came home to me, kissed me and helped out with a few chores, and then spent a couple hours comforting his sick little boy who had missed him so desperately all day long.  And then he went to work.

The man who worked overnight at a job he doesn’t enjoy only to turn around and come home, crawl into bed with said sick boy and push fluids and offer a warm shoulder of comfort and a loving arm of support.

The man who will wake up shortly and take his daughter to softball practice where he will make little girls laugh and get all bashful because of his charm.

The man who is enough.  The man who is more than enough.

I do hope he does better on our 11th wedding anniversary.  But not out of obligation.  Instead out of love and honor for the wife he has because she’s made him feel so loved and honored during their 11th year of marriage.  Because of that.

No Such Thing as Lazy

I was looking through the “gigs” section on craigslist this morning, like I do every week or so (keeping an eye open for acting jobs for the boy) and I found the following note:

Need a tutor for our 8 year old daughter.
I work all the time and she is too much for my wife to handle.

We need someone who can teach an 8 year old (who has been held back once already) to read and do simple math at a second grade level.

She is not stupid or special needs or anything like that. She is just lazy and throws fits when mom tries to get her to do anything.

Need someone who can relate to a child like this.

Preferably a female highschool or college student who likes kids.

E-mail with qualifications.

Pay is negotiable.

Reading this note broke my heart.  I prayed for this little girl.  And, yet again, I thanked God for putting the compassion and patience and love and kindness in my heart that have enabled me to care for a child who might have otherwise been viewed as lazy by a different set of parents.

You see, I always assume the best when it comes to my children.

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When my children become prone to crying fits and anger, I start to look at their diets and their sleep.

When they aren’t getting along with one another as well as usual, I start to think that maybe they could really use a night with their grandparents or a play date at the park with some other peers who aren’t their siblings.

And when they can’t do simple math or spell at grade level despite our having worked on these skills, I start to suspect a learning difference.

And I look for help.  And I seek out testing.  And then tutoring,  once the suspicion is confirmed.

My learning disabled son may not be stupid.  But he does have special needs or different needs as I prefer to think of them.

The idea that his inability to spell is due to laziness has never once entered my mind.

Does he help out with his siblings and around the house?  Yep.  Daily.

Does he volunteer to serve others and is he always the first to offer to help clean up at a function or a class?  Totally.

Is he willing to work in order to earn extra cash to save up for something he’d really like to have?  Always.

Can he spell at least at a Kindergarten level at the age of 8?  Not on your life.

It has never occurred to me to assume that the reason my son breaks down emotionally over certain academics is because he is lazy.  Instead I have always assumed that there was a reason.  A real reason.  I didn’t quite know the reason until recently (he’s dyslexic, he’s dysgraphic, and he’s dealing with a variety of late effects caused by chemo and radiation) but it never entered my mind that he might simply be lazy.  Mostly because I don’t believe that laziness is a real thing.  I think that any time a person behaves in what might appear to be a lazy manner it is because he or she is dealing with some other issue… there is always a root cause to the lazy behavior.  Perhaps a nutritional deficiency has led to tiredness and fatigue.  Maybe this person is depressed.  Or lonely.  Or feeling emotionally abused or bullied.  Or they might just need to be challenged and to find themselves an interest.  There are a lot of reasons why someone might act lazy.

My goal has always been to keep assuming the best about my children.  To keep taking responsibility for my part in their behavior.  To keep introducing new ideas, new ways, new methods until we find something that sticks.  Currently my four year old is not interested in learning his letters.  He wants to spend all day playing Lego Lord of the Rings and then all night talking about what he’s learning.  Instead of assuming he’s lazy, I’ve decided to create a ABC’s of LotR coloring book for him.  I’ll meet him where he’s at.

That’s really all any kid needs…. to be met where she is at.

My prayer for the child referred to in this craigslist ad is that some sweet compassionate tutor will see it , respond, be hired, and then proceed to meet this little girl where she is at.  Maybe they will learn that she does have a learning difference.  And maybe, just maybe, this new tutor will help her start to learn, not only how to read but that she’s smart, capable and certainly anything but lazy.

Stay tuned for more articles on the topic of homeschooling a child with learning differences!