Wednesday, September 26, 2012


This morning, as the classroom aid helped Ryan get out of the van, he asked for Mrs. B, his teacher.  Then he said "no Ms. R" who is his resource teacher.  I quickly followed that up with a quip about how he should love Ms. R because she's helping him read.  Then Ms. K, the aid, said "Oh... he can read!"

We smiled in agreement, both that he can read and that the hard part is getting him to show that he can read.

I drove away happy that his resource teacher, classroom teacher, and the classroom aid all believe in him.  They know he's intelligent.  They know he's smart.  At the same time, though, they know that their job is to take him where he is and help him get better.  But oh, how he hates reading comprehension work!  This last week, I fielded a call from his resource teacher, who said that when she told him it was time to read, he said, "Ms. R confused.  Ryan iPad."

Uh, no dude... Ryan work!

Every day after school I experience this phenomenon.  He goes to the bathroom, then comes back to do his work.  There are days when I have to herd him to the table, reminding him that if he'd like iPad or Vsmile time or anything else, he must do his work first.  Addition, subtraction, no big deal.  He even participates in something that was optional from his classroom teacher, reading as many words as possible in a minute.  But reading to me, then answering questions about what he's just read?

P-u-l-l-i-n-g t-e-e-t-h.

Even with books about trains!  He just hates having to try to answer those questions.  It's hard to put into words his answer, as far as I can tell.  And when I do get an answer, it's often coaxed out of him.  Begged.  Coerced.  Bribed.

I hate having to make him do this stuff.  I really do.  But I've made him do other things that he didn't like because they were good for him, too.  As his mother, I see the long-run benefit of doing these things.  Letting him skip these things just because it wasn't as fun as iPad, Vsmile, drumsticks, mallets, Elmo, or Thomas would eventually lead to nowhere.  If I want Ryan to reach his God-given potential, I must help him along.  I must both insist and assist in so many things in his life, doing as his teachers and meeting him where he is, nudging him forward as much as he can stand.

Same with Richie and Maelynn, although they don't put up near the fight... yet, anyway.  Richie practices writing his name, Mae practices going without her binky.  One thing after the other, always fitting, but always pushing boundaries just enough to help them grow.

In the same way, and even as I'm working to be patient with the kids as they struggle against the learning processes of life, my Father works in me.  He allows things in my life that make me grow.  That aren't comfortable.  That are pretty miserable, even.

I fight.  I kick.  I whine.  I insist that if He'd just let me do what I want already, things would be so much better.

But He knows better.

He knows that the end result is worth it.

So He stays with me, just as I stay beside Ryan at the kitchen table, making sure I finish my work.  He pats my back, encourages, and reminds me in his word and with peace in my heart that it will all work together for my good.

Sometimes He will see fit to rescue me.  Let me take a pass from this one.  But that must always be His call, and not mine.

I can tell Ryan he doesn't have to do his work. I can argue, if I choose, to the teacher that it's too hard, and he doesn't need to have to do that.  But I know that the end result would not be good.  So he does his work.  He practices his spelling, reads, we talk about what he's read, re-reading where appropriate.

It may not be fun, but we get the job done.

And when the job is done, and as I place the iPad in his hands, I know that he's better.  I know his smile is brighter, he's happier to see his beloved electric friend than he would have been if he hadn't worked for it.

Not because he insisted.  Not because he asked over and over and over.  But because the one who could see what was best for him, after a time, decided he could have a break.

I seek not to over simplify the fact that hard things happen.  Not to poke holes in anyone's faith.  Rather, I seek a different, deeper kind of faith.  One that says that if this is happening, it must be for my benefit.  If this hasn't gone away, there is something I don't understand.  There is someone in charge.  Somewhere along the way, this will be worked for good.

Whatever I'm going through, it hasn't shocked God.  I'm not saying that we should celebrate these things or cease to attempt to improve the things and situations around us, or even that we shouldn't be hurt when it looks like, from the world's standards, prayers go unanswered.  People die.  Things go horribly wrong.  Rather, it is for that reason that we must have a place to rest.  We must have somewhere to go with all the hurt, frustration, and exhaustion of life in a fallen world.

Something must help us sleep at night.

I sleep at night knowing that the same God who hung the stars in the sky holds me in everything that goes on in my life and the lives of those around me.  Things have gone wrong.  I know there is always someone who knows suffering in a more extreme way than I do, but I can say that I know suffering.  I know what it's like to want to know why.  To want it all to go away.  To deeply long for it to be better.  For some relief.  For something, anything, to rescue me from what I'm going through.  To not understand at all.  And I can tell you the singular place I've found peace is in knowing God is sovereign.  Unshockable.  Unshakable.  Graceful.  Merciful.  Powerful.  And he's not taking a break anytime soon.

Thanks be to God for his sovereignty and providence... and just like I tell Ryan about Ms. R, for bettering me by making me work, even when I'm kicking and screaming.

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