It was Tuesday, February 7, when we received the unwelcome news that “Maman”, my precious mother-in-law, was considered to be imminently palliative. We immediately began making plans for an emergency trip to Europe, and you can imagine the hustle and bustle as we went into overdrive, running on pure adrenaline, to ensure we had a place to stay, a vehicle, that our animals would be cared for, etc. And of course, there were mega-arrangements to make at both of our places of work for our extended leaves of absence. Combine this with the emotional turmoil of knowing we would soon lose our precious Maman and that it might happen before we could make the transatlantic flight to Belgium to see her one last time, and you will understand why I was very close to a major meltdown. It was in the midst of this adrenaline-fueled marathon that God reached out to me through each of my boys, respectively, to teach me two very important lessons…
It began with my older son. “How are you doing?” was his text to me. This is his invitation to provide emotional support, and my response was, “It’s been rough”. Of course he wanted to know what, specifically, was wrong, and my text back to him said something about, busyness, arrangements to make, emotional turmoil, etc.
I should have expected the content of his response; nonetheless, I was blown away to learn that he had also experienced a “rough” day and for the very same reasons…It made me sit back and think. Here I was so concerned about myself and my own problems that it didn’t occur to me that my son would also be struggling with the imminent loss of his grandmother. Under other circumstances I would have been in tune to this, but my own problems and stresses, albeit very valid ones, had blown themselves up so much in my mind that they completely blocked me from being able to see that my son was also hurting! And yet, here he was, offering ME emotional support…
What a powerful lesson. It doesn’t matter how valid, how big, how encompassing our problems are, they should NEVER be allowed to keep us from seeing the needs of others!
In a communication with my younger son, it became apparent that he, too, was struggling—not with a very “rough” day, but a very “rough” last two weeks. Whenever your kids hurt, you hurt; and this, on top of the rest, was the last straw for me. As I began to allow thoughts of self-pity and insecurity pull me towards the ever-familiar path of depression, I was suddenly overcome with the burden to pray for someone.
Now normally when I am headed towards full-blown depression, I ignore such burdens. Especially if I didn’t have a clue who or what I was supposed to be praying for, as was the case that night. After all, weren’t my own needs bigger at that moment than whatever God was urging me to pray about?
This time, however, the burden to pray actually made me recognize that I was heading down a dangerous, slippery slope. I turned to God, I renounced my self-pity, my insecurity and my depression, and I began to pray in the Spirit.
Interestingly, after spending time in prayer, my own emotions stabilized. Gone was the depression, the self-pity, the insecurity. The upcoming trip to Europe and its emotional baggage were still there, but I knew that with God on my side, we would make it through. And with that truth, my mini-meltdown was over.
It was two days later that one of the special people in my life texted me. She battles crippling anxiety, and I had previously asked her to contact me the moment the anxiety began to creep in. She told me in her text that she had been struggling with anxiety around the same time I had almost ignored the burden to pray. Praise be to God, she had just experienced two peaceful days…
I don’t think so, and herein lies the second important lesson I learned that week: When we pray for others despite the magnitude of what we, ourselves, are going through, we will see our own problems shrink back to their real size as they come under the blood of Jesus.
Doesn’t the Bible tell us to encourage one another? “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” (1 Thess. 5:11 NLT). Doesn’t the bible teach that we receive comfort from God so that we can pass it on to others? “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (2 Cor. 1:4 NLT).
No matter what it is you are battling this week, I urge each of you to try to consider the needs of others as far more important than your own. Resolve to put the needs of others first, for you can be sure that when you do, you can trust God to take care of your own problems!
And let’s pray for God’s help in remembering these two valuable lessons…
Join us on Saturday for a lesson in God’s perfect timing, even through death, in “Maman, Adieu”, Part 3.
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access the entire “Maman, Adieu!” mini-series, please click here.)