It is amazing how laying down your own perspective of things opens up a whole new world that you didn’t know you were missing. When I finally stopped hyper-focusing on my immediate problem, I was able to see so much more. Romans 8:8 took on new meaning for me: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” I finally saw what it was really saying. Not, “God will make everything good/ok/all better” but “God works everything out for my good.” So then, in everything, God is bettering me and bettering my situation. That is a huge paradigm shift. He is making me better, making my family better, my marriage better, my friends, community, etc. Not necessarily by answering every prayer or fixing every problem I face. That verse says that within the problems, I am being bettered.
The second part of Romans 8:28 is that He does this betterment for all those who are called according to His purpose. Now the true pursuit begins. Stop looking at my problem and start searching for His purpose. In my case, for His purpose within the problem. Because it is when I become “one who is called according to His purpose”, that he begins to work for my good. Seeking Him is always, always, always the first step to overcoming. Matthew 6:33 says “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew was saying the same thing really – if you just stop focusing on your problems or needs, and seek God’s way, you’ll find you already have everything you need. Your perspective shift will be complete.
At this point in my journey I began to embrace where I was called and God’s purpose for me, in this season and situation. For example, when I stopped focusing on myself, I was able to become aware of the deep and desperate hurts I saw in other moms of special needs children. Statistics say that 3 out of 4 marriages of special kids ends in divorce – some websites I’ve seen go as high as 90% divorce rate. I met mothers whose husbands had walked out on them while still in the hospital after delivering a baby with Downs Syndrome. I met lots of moms who were emotionally shut down, and others who were emotionally raw at all times. My desire became helping these moms shift their perspective. I realized I was developing an “area of expertise” in being a special needs mom. I saw moms in all stages and walks of motherhood who could desperately use this little nugget that God had deposited in me.
Applying new perspective to every area of my life slowly overhauled many other aspects. Parenting my older son, being a wife, pursuing my career and purpose, being a friend and member of a community were all affected. My marriage, though difficult at times, was often held together by only one very small but tight cord – our special son. While the initial response to such high levels of stress and emotions might be to split up, my husband and I realized that in spite of any other challenges we faced, we had one thing in common, one common bond that outweighed any and all other differences we encountered: Nicolas. He became a glue for us that remained and kept us together during all those cold and wintery seasons that arise in every marriage. A change of perspective kept my heart and mind from going over the cliff more than a few times and showed me that Nicolas was a irreplaceable factor in our lives.
I became vividly aware of the privilege of having a special child. I witnessed the purity and innocence of special children and how that purity refreshed everyone around it. After focusing on the problem for years, I allowed myself to see the plethora of benefits. My older son had become, at a young age, the most compassionate and kind boy anyone had ever met. People marvelled at his maturity, his sensitivity and responsibility – especially when they saw him interact with his brother. He developed the ability to see the world in a way far different than most other boys his age. While I’d like to say it was all in our wonderful parenting, I’m acutely aware it was because of his brother – God’s gift to my oldest son, his future wife, his kids and his world. I began to nurture that gift. Explaining to Ben many times how blessed he was to have Nicolas as his brother. How he would grow up to be such an exceptional man, equipped very differently from his peers – He, Ben, was set apart for a higher purpose and being Nicolas’ brother was God’s way of positioning him for that calling. I see now that without Nicolas, Ben would not be quite as extraordinary of a young man as he is today.
The outside world, I realized, was also affected by Nicolas. Friends and family were changed. Every friend he encountered, he impacted. It wasn’t only the priviledge of mom, dad and brother. But a large number of people have been confronted with the truth of a better life perspective by knowing Nicolas. The enormity of his impact was revealed to me when our Pastor, writing a memoir of how he overcame a life-threatening event in his health, revealed to us that he took great inspiration from Nicolas as he walked out his recovery. How sad it would have been for me to continue to view as a burden something that was actually a blessing. Untold number of lives have been positively impacted by Nicolas, and the numbers continue to increase daily.
As I stopped looking at my “problem” and started seeking God, all of this and more came to me as a reassuring, warm response. The deeper I probed into God’s purpose, the more beauty I saw. As I stopped telling God what to fix, and started listening for His call, I became aware of His presence and plan each day. What a lovely moment when I truly saw everything working for my good! I truly experienced my Moses moment, where I had taken off my sandals and could now experience the voice and presence of God in a new way. I love the way Paul puts it in his letter to the Colossians: “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” All things hold together provides such a comforting picture. No more falling apart, breaking up, losing grip, or coming unravelled. In Jesus it’s all held together – when I see that, I see hope. Hope and a future. (Shout out here to my favorite verse Jeremiah 29:11).
Perhaps you have been so intently focused on a looming problem, that you have not yet considered that God may be using it to work things out for your good…..and for the good of other as well? Here’s a little prayer prompt that might help you get your eyes re-focused:
“Father, this problem that I see before me is big. But perhaps it is blocking my view of all the beauty around it. Please show me evidence of things that I have not previously seen. I want to believe that it is working out good for me, and in me. And if it isn’t yet, I give you permission to begin working on my behalf even now to turn things around.”