It was all I could do to maintain my flat and serious affect.
A loud and hearty laugh was ready to erupt from the deep recesses of chest. As my second-born son laid out his complaints, it was all I could do to stifle my giggles.
Seriously, the situation at hand was another one for the “I love being Jake’s mom” record books.
Jake was frustrated and angry with me. We had reached the final hour of our Happy Blue School day and Jake was finished. He had worked hard; very hard. He knew it and I knew it. As a result, when he looked at the time, Jake decided that we had done enough school work for the day.
We needed to complete a final section in his history book. This meant more note-taking. This meant more highlighting. This meant more looking for answers and then recording them in his workbook. This meant.much.more.time.much.more.effort.much.more.skin.in.the.game.
Jake looked up at me and pronounced judgment. “Mom, I am going to tell Dad what you have done!”
I replied, “What do you mean, Jake?”
Jake responded in earnest, “You’re making Caleb and me do too much history. Dad will not be happy. I’m sorry, Mom. But you are going to get in trouble for this.”
Caleb looked across from the table and said, “Jake, you have got to be kidding!”
Jake, not to be dissuaded from his point, said, “Caleb, this school day has gone on for far too long. I’m ready for a break. Dad won’t like it that Mom worked us so hard today!”
Jake was familiar with the daddy threat of “just wait until your father gets home!” He had decided to turn the tables. Jake was certain that when he laid out his case before his dad, his father would side with him and see that I was being unreasonable. For Jake, discipline was in my near future…as soon as Daddy got home!
Or so Jake thought.
Unfortunately, for Jake, things didn’t turn out quite like he thought they would.
John returned home and true to Jake’s word, Jake approached his dad with his complaint. John listened to his son relay all of the travesties of his extended school day and all of his hard work. John continued to hear out how his wife had made Jake keep working until he had finished every last bit of history. And then John received Jake’s demand that I be reprimanded, because after all, what I had done to Jake wasn’t fair. Jake didn’t want this to happen again.
Like I shared, it was all I could do to remain quiet and keep my snickers to myself.
John listened and then firmly (with his own gleeful gleam in his eyes) told his son that there would be no punishment for me. It was Jake’s responsibility to finish his work and follow my directions – even if it meant that his school day was longer and even if it meant there was more work to be done than he anticipated. There was to be no argument. This was the deal.
Jake didn’t like what he heard. Not one bit.
As little brothers do from time to time, Caleb rubbed Jake’s disappointment in a little deeper, “I told you so, Jake. Moms don’t get in trouble.”
Well, I’m not so sure everyone would share Caleb’s opinion. Yet, this very real, “I-don’t-make-these-stories-up” discourse from our family, belies a greater truth.
It is true that Jake is an autistic teen who was advocating for himself in a unique way for his season of life. Yet, the fact of the matter is that Jake wasn’t getting what he wanted. This is a reality for all of us in life.
And we often don’t get what we want at times when we are the most fatigued, the most discouraged, the most ill, the most overworked, the most disheartened, the most angry, and in all honesty, the most focused upon ourselves and the circumstances that are troubling us.
A very long time ago, Paul wrote these words to a disheartened and discouraged group:
“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eye not what is seen, but what it unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” New International Version, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Like Jake, we may be experiencing various levels of fatigue. We may feel that we have worked beyond what is or was necessary for the task at hand. Perhaps we are experiencing a barrage of criticism that seems unfair and unwarranted. Maybe we are fed up with how things are going! We may be feeling, just like Jake, that our complaints need to be heard and acted upon…not later….but now. And the last thing we want to hear is someone laughing at us in the background – without remorse or understanding.
Perhaps, like Jake, we would secretly like it if “someone would get in trouble for this….”
We take our complaints, our troubles, our challenges, our pain, our suffering, our blahs to God and what is the response?
Like Jake’s dad, our Heavenly Father listens. He is attentive. He understands. But what He ultimately chooses to do, just like Jake’s dad, is ultimately in our best interest and for our greatest good.
It is difficult to reconcile this at times though. Jake certainly didn’t like hearing that his dad wasn’t going to take his side and advocate for him. What Jake did not see or understand were the underlying purposes of what finishing his work and working beyond his normal school day were all about! This history exercise was serving to develop Jake’s character. This “you’re going to get in trouble for this work” had the potential to help Jake see how capable he was of pushing beyond his limits. This was all about helping Jake develop an understanding is what Dallas Willard describes as “the most important thing in your life is not what you do; it’s who you become. That’s what you take into eternity.”
This is what Paul was saying to the Corinthian church too. Human limitations have benefits.
“Really?” wondered Jake, and perhaps many of us as well.
Our human limitations and challenges in life offer the potential to bring us, like Jake, right up, close and personal to our Heavenly Father. We look to Him to help us. We may not like it, but our human frailties keep us humble and they eliminate our pride. Ultimately, they serve a purpose in guiding us beyond our life circumstances to the glorious eternal. Every sorrow, every failure, every struggle, every heartache, every “I wish this would all go away” thought, and every “I wish they would get in trouble for this” acknowledgement can be given to Jesus Christ – who has the resurrecting power and strength to help us become all that He wants us to become for eternity!
It’s not easy for Jake to see that his parents are looking beyond his history assignments to something far greater – especially when the history work is Jake’s present reality and struggle – and he doesn’t like it!
Yet, what we want Jake to know most of all, is that as John and I turn our faces and our heart toward our son and hear his heart’s complaints, his Heavenly Father and his Savior Jesus Christ do the same. We may not answer as Jake may always appreciate, but we do so, knowing that the answer we give is focused upon assisting Jake become a young man who places his complete trust in his God for every circumstance and every life challenge. We are more concerned about his soul and character, than doing what he wants. It is true that Jake has been diagnosed with autism. Yet, this doesn’t preclude him from becoming all God wants him to be – even if it means sticking with his history assignments awhile longer.
In the same way, whatever we are challenged with or grieved by or concerned about can be given up to our God. We can trust Him to care for and guide us – even if we must remain where we are for the time being; to stick it out. There is just so much more going on than what Jake or any of us can see and can understand.
So, Friends, what is your God asking you to trust Him for as you stick something out….a while longer?