The Strong, Sure, Steadfast Love of Jesus: Six Years With Anah

Another year has come and gone. Six years.  

In these six years, we have seen Anah move from a drooling child who still needed a bib and pullups to a young girl who is caring for herself, going to school, making friends, and helping around the house.

Despite the hardships she has experienced, she is still sweet natured, smiling and friendly. Of course, we have our moments, but as I stand on this side of the story, I am thankful to God for all that He has brought us through.

  Our first day of school!

Our first day of school!

Our biggest change this year is starting school—not just one, but two. An opportunity to transfer Anah to the school that was a better fit for her needs opened up this spring and after praying about it, we decided to go for it. We hope that in this “Life Skills” program, she will be able to learn to grow in independence and confidence.

But Anah is not the only one who needs to grow up. So do I. Over the past year, I have blogged two series of reflections on Anah as well as undergone personal counseling. It is so humbling to see how much work God has to do in me—the deep sin, the hurtful ways, the pride. Over and over, He shows me that I too am a special needs child—and sometimes my shortcomings are far greater than Anah’s. And yet as my loving Heavenly Father, He patiently deals with me. He doesn’t overlook my sins, but He does cover them with lots of grace and bids me to try again, even after failing for the millionth time.

So as I stand here, September 17, 2018, I praise God for His faithful care and loving parenting over me. I don’t think I could have said that a few years ago. I was too busy fighting Him and His plans for my life. Through the help of writing, processing these conflicting and heavy thoughts, countless conversations with many good friends and a wise counselor, the Lord has helped me to finally be at peace and acceptance with this life that He has given me. Thank you to every single one of you who have read these posts, commented, or reached out with words of encouragement and prayer. He has used you mightily to remind me that I am not alone.

Most importantly, God has been teaching me about Himself. When I forget that He truly is all I will ever need, I will scramble and worry, trying to fix my life with my limited resources, on my own terms, and with less than optimal results. Though it may be one of the most basic lessons we will ever learn, I am realizing how hard-wired I am for independence. Trusting Him and having faith in His provision is such an unnatural response to us as fallen humans.

  Doing homework: helping out with dinner preparations.

Doing homework: helping out with dinner preparations.

And yet, through Christ, what a great treasure we have been given! Not only has He covered my glaring sins, He has satisfied my soul with the richest of fare. He doesn’t just patch me up and send me off. He invites me into relationship, that I may personally know and experience the riches I have as His child. These riches may not be tangible ones, but they are real—a peace that surpasses all understanding, grace for the trial, contentment when I feel the keen edge of want, a way of escape in moments of temptation. Because of Him I can do all things—even care for a child for the long haul and love her well.

So today, I can only praise God for what He has been doing. It is certainly not because I have been a willing learner. Most of the time, I am kicking and screaming. Yet He faithfully, tenderly, and gently loves me through my “terrible twos.” He gives peace to my unruly heart and rest to my weary soul.

  Student of the month in March!

Student of the month in March!

That Anah was sent here for my good and growth, I am certain. I don’t think I would have this understanding of Him if she didn’t come. So I don’t want to miss out on all that He offers to me through this experience. Often times, when we struggle and suffer, it is so natural to focus on the hardship.

Many times, I knew the truth but was so angry, bitter, and stubborn that I could not hear His truth. At those times, I couldn’t pray or ask for help. The truth that anchored me in those moments was the fact that Jesus loves me—even in the sorry state I am in—and that He died for the hardness in my heart and the anger in my soul that I cannot shake on my own. My step of faith was leaning on this unshakable, strong, committed love of God, even if I could not feel gladness or see hope. 

If that is you today, I hope you too will lean hard on these truths. This is not just a “feel good” post. It is an “in the trenches” one. I am still learning, and I will likely slide back. But my feelings don’t make them less true. I know they are sure and strong enough to withstand the greatest of trial. I hope we will not wait till we get our act together before we cry out in faith. In fact, if we wait, we have misunderstood what grace means. I learned that I need to lean on them when I am in the pit of despair, when I am the most angry and bitter and ugly, for that is where we will find all that we most deeply long for—things to be made right, whole, and good. It won’t necessarily change our circumstances. It hasn’t changed mine. But it sure has changed me.

And sometimes that is the greatest help and hope he can give us.