“I’ll never get it!” Eyes flashed and the workbook skidded across the table. The pencil rolled, hit the chair and then thudded onto the tile floor, lead breaking in the process. Her eyes turned toward me, anger and triumph swirling together into a steaming attitude of “Just watch me!”
The first grade math problems aren’t too hard for her. In fact, she will sometimes come skipping through the kitchen spouting addition problems. She must get that from her father, for math and I have never been super great friends.
I remember the hot tears that stung my eyes and the math page swirled in front of me. Even though I was in my teens and knew better than hurling my book at the wall, I wanted to spit those same words angrily. “I’ll NEVER get it!” The burn was so hot I can feel it still in my throat. But I look deep into her angry eyes, and I know soon she will blink, look at the numbers and they will make sense. In spite of the passionate emotions of disdain, she WILL get it.
As her mom, I’m learning to lean into the climb, knowing when to pause and let her pant and sigh and complain a bit about the hardness of it all, and when to keep pushing her. She needs to stay hydrated, but she will never reach the top of the mountain if we don’t push those burning muscles and keep climbing.
She has no idea, but as a mom, I still have these moments of complete frustration. Just this morning, the flu bug hit my baby hard and heavy and vomit spewed violently all over my freshly washed sheets. Just a week after I’ve culled and refolded the three year old’s clothes drawer, I open it to find everything jumbled and wadded. Hot words threaten to slip past my tongue. Even if I wisely keep my mouth shut, the mental monologue is there.
Like when a tornado passes directly overhead, there in the eye of the storm, the sound around us falls eerily silent. But in that external silence, the internal voices are loud.
“You failed again.
You lost your temper.
You have disappointed everyone.
You will never amount to much…”
Or maybe we hear “No one loves you. You will always be misunderstood.””
The words we hear may vary, but the mind behind the voices are the same.
Accusations. Negativity. Lies.
Ezekiel stood in the massive valley surrounded by those dried, sun-bleached bones and saw complete death. You know the way the wind howls over the miles of parched desert, where water is only mirages on the horizon, tantalizing you with their sinister taunts of empty hope. This is what Ezekiel felt. There was no hope for this place, for these lives, piled high, femurs and skulls piled thick in an endless jumble.
We all have these places of desolation in our lives. These valleys mock us, taunt us, and demand we slam the door and deny its existence. We post beautiful photos on Instagram, smile perfectly at the camera, but God sees our darkest struggles. And He stands there, whispering truth.
“You are loved. You are accepted. You WILL gain victory over this struggle. You are created for such a time as this.”
Words are powerful. God could have just created everything He wanted made, but He spoke first. He looked into the bleak darkness and spoke what He envisioned. Light. Hope. Life.
This is not the prosperity gospel. We don’t chant “I will be a millionaire” to the person in the mirror. But when we align ourselves with God’s truth, and whisper His promises back to Him, we find that heavenly power surging through our veins. Even when we feel weak, we can join Joel and say, “I feel weak, but I am STRONG!” God delights to breathe life into the dead, and call into existence the things that are not yet. (Romans 4:17)
The feelings are real. Life IS sweaty and hard. But always remember: we are not fighting a physical battle, but a spiritual one. When we speak those spiritual victories over our hearts, and over the hearts of our children, we connect with the divine power. We teach our children to grasp in faith what their eyes cannot yet see. This, perhaps, is the biggest inheritance we can ever leave for our children, a deep assurance in the love and faithfulness of their Creator.
I pick up the pencil, and pull the workbook back in front of her. “I know it’s hard right now. I really do. But you will get it. Here, look at this problem. I know you can do this. You’ve got this!”
Today, in my places yet waiting to burst out of darkness, I will speak life.
Join me? Where is God speaking life over you?