Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What's Right With This Picture?

(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 8 of Just Enough Light for the Step I'm On. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit!)

At first, I found this Chapter 8, Seeing What’s Right With This Picture to be very similar to Chapter 4, Embracing the Moment. Nicole and I emailed back and forth on this and found some important differences to take this to the next level.

Brief recap…

In Chapter 8, Stormie challenges us to look for God’s perspective when things don’t turn out the way we think they should. She gives us some great examples of people in situations that are upsetting and difficult, and then goes on to find what was good in all of them. One example she gives is when her daughter, Mandy had a car accident. Some of the “good” things to come out of the situation were that no one was hurt and that Mandy would become a better, more defensive driver, which could one day save her life. Stormie realizes that looking for the good in Seeing What’s Right With This Picture is very similar to the points she made in Embracing the Moment and she offers this distinction between the two: Embracing the Moment” is embracing God and finding Him in the moment. “Seeing What’s Right With This Picture”, on the other hand, is searching for the truth and seeing reality from God’s perspective. It’s being willing to let go of our determination to see things through our own tunnel vision. (p.74)

So often, it seems despite all my best efforts, things still go wrong and my plans do not fall into place the way I hope that they will. This chapter was helpful to me as a reminder that God is still helping things come together for my son’s best interests (as well as my own), even when things go wrong. These past two months this has happened several times regarding a gastrointestinal procedure that my son Matthew needed to have. The first time things went wrong was when two days before the appointment for the initial consult, my entire family became sick with the flu (the regular kind!) and there was no way we could make the 3 ½ hour drive. I was so disappointed, and had really looked forward to getting this process started, hoping it would lead to answers and relief for my son. Matthew had several bowel inflammation markers, was in pain and sleeping terribly. So, a few weeks later we had our consultation and scheduled the procedure. A week before the procedure, the doctor’s office called to tell me that they didn’t realize this doctor would be at a medical conference on the day we were scheduled to have the procedure. The procedure was then put off for another three weeks. During this time, Matthew was still in pain, irritable and sleeping terribly. Clearly I had made every effort to help my child. Why were my well-intentioned efforts being thwarted by forces beyond my control?

Reading this chapter made me look back and look for God. First, Matthew and I were prayed over by my prayer group right before each of these obstacles (literally the night before my family got sick and the night before the office called to reschedule the procedure). I had to stop and think that because these events were beyond my control, and came right after we were prayed over, they must mean that God is moving things around for a reason. I like what Stormie wrote on page 76, “This may be a big shock to you-I know it was to me-but often when something unfortunate is happening to us, it’s actually an answer to a prayer we have prayed.”

Looking at it from Stormie’s “Seeing What’s Right” suggestions made me think that maybe there is something that the doctor would learn at the medical conference that would help him while completing the medical procedure. Maybe God knows something I don’t and Matthew would somehow be in a better position to have the procedure at a later date. What really stuck with me was that maybe I’m not supposed to know right now. Maybe I’m supposed to trust God at his word that He’s working things out on Matthew’s behalf. Sometimes we need to stay out of God’s way. Matthew did have his procedure last week and it went unbelievably well. We are still waiting for the final results but felt incredibly blessed at how well he was able to handle the prep, procedure and post-anesthesia wake-up. For whatever reason, it went better than I would have imagined.

Another area in my life where I need to apply these ideas is in the evaluation/eligibility/IEP process that I’ve begun with our public school system. I have a very firm idea of what I think is best for my son, but it will have to be carefully negotiated with an IEP team based on his upcoming evaluation results. Matthew has medical needs that are at the forefront and play into his services/placement prominently. I am trying very hard to follow protocol and provide the key information to the people who need to have it in the most diplomatic way. However, so far one of my key advocates who has offered to help has already let out all of the information to my case manager and I have already been misquoted regarding my wishes for the level of service he will receive in the minutes from our referral meeting. Once again, my best efforts are there, but events beyond my control alter how I think this should go. This chapter reminds me to trust that God knows what he’s doing and be glad that he moves things around in my life. Sometimes it can go to a good end when things go wrong, just as it can when things go right.

When we can look for the truth and are grateful that God is moving in our lives, it can take the "sting" out of some of our disappointment when things don't go the way we've planned. I hope, as Stormie suggests to one day to be able to say "This was the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes" (Psalm 118:23). Stormie puts this well on page 78, "What we're really talking about here is an issue of trust. It's basically believing that God is good and he desires the best for you."

One verse of scripture that I've been leaning on heavily lately just happened to be in the Footlights of this chapter, and was also forwarded to me recently by two friends:

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Romans 8:28

Lord, thank you for uniting all of the mothers that come to this site both in our struggles and our desire to grow in faith and knowledge of You. We all face situations that are beyond our control and don't end up the way we plan. Help us to remember that our lives are in Your hands and will unfold according to Your perfect plan. Open our hearts and minds so that we may see Your hand in the events of our life and to view every situation as an opportunity for blessing. Give us the faith to trust that You know what is best for us and our children. We pray this in your name, Lord Jesus. Amen.


Stonesetter said...

What a marvelous reminder that God indeed knows the thoughts He has towards us..and they are good thoughts! I needed that reminder today. Thanks for sharing!

Jessica said...

Welcome Stonesetter! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this. It's so great for us all to remember God has good thoughts toward us, thanks for that reminder too! :)

Nicole Collins said...

Well put Jessica! I really struggled with this chapter at first trying to see the difference between "Embracing the Moment" and "Seeing What's Right with this Picture." When I first read it, I felt like both chapters were saying the same thing. Then after we talked about it and then I read it for about the 10th time, I was finally able to wrap my brain around this. "Embracing the Moment" is being able to look back on everything and see the good in difficult situations. Basically, finding God in these situations. "Seeing What's Right with This Picture" is being able to look at a difficult situation in a positive light. How would God see this situation? I love your example on Matthew's scopes and how it had to be re-scheduled. It made me think about all of our recent family misfortunes over the past two months. It just seemed like we kept getting hit with one thing after another. I can "Embrace the Moment" and look back on some of these situations and see how God was working. However, where it really helped me the most is when I was able to "See What's Right with The Picture" as soon as the storm came. This helped me see the positive in a negative situation which in turn showed me what God needed for me to do. This cleared up our storms.
Again, great way of explaining the two Jessica. I don't know if I would have ever been able to "See What's Right" if we wouldn't have discussed this! Thanks!