Picture Perfect

This post is for all of us.
It targets those whose lives “clean up well” – where things look picture perfect, but there’s more to the story. Written by a dear friend of mine, Joy also speaks tenderly to parents of high-needs kiddos.
No matter the current picture of our lives, may your photo book today include a snap shot of “doing lunch with Jesus.”

Joy Gilraine lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts and shares this story at Life On Boy Island.

We were at my favorite beach last night. At my favorite time. Low tide at Wingaersheek at sunset. The crowds had left and those that remained were reveling in the feeling that we were beholding a great secret together. It feels so magical as the water makes its grand push to the outer limits and then suddenly turns and begins to head back in towards its highest point. I know it sounds dramatic. But there is seriously a hush that falls at this time. Everyone seems to be acutely aware of the amazing feat that just happened. We were all walking back toward shore and I was determined to capture the last fleeting moments of light. I called to Ben and told him that we needed to keep moving. He promptly replied, “THIS IS THE WORST DAY EVER! I HATE YOU! I DON’T WANT TO LEAVE!” I captured this picture at just that minute. What a reminder of how different things can be from how they look. I realized that perhaps the pictures and posts of my life give an illusion of magical sunsets and funny kid comments. We have lots of those on boy island but often they are interrupted with outbursts, flying objects, and words that hit harder than stones. It’s hard when it happens at home during dinner, or bedtime, or when I give very strenuous directions such as, “Can you please put the puzzle away?” But at home we understand, or try to anyhow, that this little kid has a big hole in his heart that he is trying to figure out. We know that even five years later he is still unsure if he can trust us to love him forever. We know that he doesn’t even understand that he is afraid. We know that his brain is damaged, literally, from being born at 24 weeks. We know what a miracle it is that a 1 pound 4 ounce frail baby can turn into 50 pounds of unbridled boyhood.

But the people at the beach do not know. I feel their eyes as he continues his tirade. I can see the confusion, concern, and judgment as he adds surprisingly hard punches with his still harder words. I can feel myself fight the urge to respond out of embarrassment. For me and for Ben. I can feel myself pushing down the doubts that fly at me even harder than Ben’s words. Will this ever change? Will we always be the center of attention for all of the wrong reasons? Why did I think I could do this? I wish I had known it would be so hard. But in the middle of the doubt I hear words that don’t hurt. Instead they convict me to love harder and more than I knew I could. They remind me that there was a time in my life when I was trying to fill holes in my heart by doing things that never would. They remind me that I didn’t even understand what the holes were from. They remind me that when I realized my need for a relationship with God through Jesus I was immediately brought fully into His family. Adopted. Given all the rights of sonship. But it has taken me a long time to trust that God would really love me forever. I’ve had tantrums of my own sort as I’ve walked toward understanding. But He has indeed continued to love me. He has not turned away in shame, or responded out of embarrassment at how I was making Him look. He has loved and disciplined me. Not punished. Disciplined. So different. It has felt as though He really has sat and talked with me. Because He loves me, not because He has to. Exactly what I want to do for Ben. Even when he is ruining my perfect picture. Especially then I will invite him to sit with me and talk. I love that the picture the Bible gives me is not one of being yelled at and rejected, but instead of sitting at the table and eating with Him. Listening and learning. I want Ben, and the eyes of those watching, to see this side of Christ in me.

 I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” Revelation 3:19-20


Read more of Joy’s stories at www.lifeonboyisland.com


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