Wednesday, November 14, 2012

When The Odds Rise Against You

Two odds have stacked up; two very big facts in my life:

1. my body
2. my 14 year old teenager stepdaughter

Both are angst-ridden and angry, both are moody and stuck in a rut. Both are victims of circumstance and  victims of themselves.

Is that vague yet poetic enough for you?

To be more specific, yet still respecting privacy, let me try to explain a bit further.

My body has been fighting me for years, but has progressively gotten worse this year. Since March, I was in the emergency room three times. Urgent Care became my middle name and I formed long-lasting friendships with every on-call 24-hour-nurse at my clinic. They'd always be there at 3 in the morning to take my calls of pain and hysteria. They'd offer advice, suggestions, and sometimes just listen to me vent about how much pain I was in and how I couldn't get sleep.

After getting a common yet important procedure scheduled for January, my body made it known that it would not wait that long. The 3rd ER visit occurred and soon we had the procedure scheduled for four days later.

That was last Friday.

The procedure painted me as a healthy fool.

The doctors were perplexed.

Maybe you're too anxious, they said.

Yes. If you were going through this much pain and agony and worrying about how you were going to function every day and take care of your kids and husband and life-duties, worry about how many sick-days you were using up at work and were you going to lose your job over this...yes, I bet you'd be pretty anxious too.

So off I went to the specialist in my area of body-problem.

She was invalidating, plain-old-mean. She told me I was too emotional about it and wasn't the least bit sympathetic.

At that point, my normally-sweet and compassionate demeanor disappeared and I unleashed some wrath I did not know I had. Poor woman.

This got me to see a nationally-recognized expert in the area of my body-problem. I have to do another procedure this week and then get one x-ray next week and one on December 3rd. I'm told he will be able to tell me what is going on.

In the mean time, every day gives me pain, pain, more pain. I can't describe it without going into too much detail so you will just have to trust me.

Then there is my number two odd stacked against me: the 14 year old.

As with me and my health problem, she is full of pain and wrath. And lucky me, I am her target practice.

Actually, I don't think I'm "practice" for anything; I know she is very angry with me.

Yet I understand this. I'm not her biological mother; I'm the woman she lives with who is being the second parent in the house; I'm the woman who makes sure she does x, y, and z and gets on her case if she doesn't. I'm the parent who helps make sure her room is clean and that she gets picked up from confirmation and poms weekly.

But I'm also the parent who gets the "you're not my mom; stop trying so hard to be my mom."

I'm also the parent who gets to fight with her almost every morning about being upstairs on-time. About basic manners. About this or that. Name anything. We've covered it.

This girl adored me once upon a time. I have up on my wall a framed drawing that reads, "Stepmom is my favorite word. When you came into my life I felt hope in my family being broke up. I love you."

Was that only two years ago? How can a child morph into someone so different in two years?

And yet I love her. I am called to love her. God wants me to love her. And I do. I love her when I am angry at her, I love her when I act irrationally at her and when I act rationally (however irrational to her teenage mind). I love her when we bond over something and I love her when we fight (though, I admit, it's mighty hard to remember that).

So these two things: my 14 year old and my body...

they are both railing against me right now. They are wild animals howling in the night and they are in agony. They both want help but reject it. Granted, the 14 year old has more control about accepting or rejecting the help than my body does, but there are similarities none-the-less.

I feel like I'm being hated on...a lot.

This morning, after another tearful drive to work after dropping the kids to school (tears due to the tiredness of fighting with 14 year old every morning over something), I read through my index cards of Bible verses.

One stuck out in particular:

"If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first." 

No, that's not the president talking nor is it my own parent. It's Jesus.

John 15:18 (NLT).

I sat in my car, transfixed by that message.

I felt God lean in close and tell me:

I love you more than she hates you. 

Wow. I haven't realized the true nature of God's love. I haven't realized that God loves me no matter what time He goes to bed or needs to be upstairs in the morning. If God sneaks someone into the house, God is still going to love me when I punish Him.

Okay, so I'm making a bit of a joke there, but I think you might know what I mean.

Feeling God say that to me made such a huge difference. So much that I do not fear anyone or anything hating me [on a good day].

God loves me more, immeasurably more.

"With your unfailing love you lead the people you have redeemed. In your might, you guide them to your sacred home." ~ Exodus 15:13 (NLT).

Unfailing love, that's what Moses wrote. Unfailing love is mentioned, in the New International Version translation, 32 times!


the odds might be against me.

But God is for me.

And if God is for me, who can be against me?

I rest in God. I thank God. I sigh into God's bigger-than-huge love.

Deeeep breath.


  1. My heart is heavy for you now and I surely do not have all the answers, except I am turning back the only thing I am sure about. It's that every answer can be found in seeking God.

    I have 13 year old daughter, and she is my biological daughter, but we have been dealing with similar struggles this last year. I can say this and I believe it is true--love is the only conquering force.

    Love covers a multitude of sins, and I do believe that where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.

    I will believe these promises for you and with you. And I pray that God will bring you and those doctors wisdom and that He will bring healing and make you whole.

    You are a gift to me. Thank you <3

  2. Sweet Michele, thank you for your words that still my dizzying mind. I am often caught these days in a whirlwind of anger at no-answers and anger at apathy-and-anger at my 14 yr old. But you are right; time after time it comes down to love. God has given me a clear call to serve these children with all that He has equipped me with and THROUGH Him. Thank you for your reminder. It is a good one here on this dark, quiet night. You are a splendid gift to me as well. :)


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