ďAnd when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that Iíll be there.Ē
Matthew 18:20 The Message
My mom was my first teacher. I was accustomed to learning from her whether it was from daily devotions, when my younger siblings and I were little kids, to being corrected grammatically when we misspoke. Fortunately now I can claim literary license for those kinds of mishaps. But I know the most important things both my mom and dad taught me were about their faith. I remember nightly prayer times just like they were yesterday and as youíll see; thatís not too far from the truth. Then I went to school and just assumed as so many others do that the ones in front of the classroom were my new teachers from then on so I stopped thinking of my mom as a real teacher because she just taught at a local community college some. Later, Iíd figure out sheís a teacher for life in every sense of the word.
I was raised in a Christian home, but we did have our share of troubles just like many of you reading this I suppose. Nothing that would shout ďBe prepared!Ē for what Iíd put my family through one summer a few years ago. They were all shocked by my rapid, spiral decline from a ďgoodĒ guy in a matter of months to a nearly fatal suicide attempt. The months and years following the hospital stay were very difficult for me. No one can feel what someone else feels or know the pain of another person. But I think a mother has a better understanding of what her childís pain is like. My mom had a good understanding too. She hurt with me.
For nearly the first three years afterward I experienced some good times, but mostly I barely made it by. There was a time toward the end of that period where things were going very well for me spiritually, physically, emotionally and financially. But once again, unexpectedly, I became paralyzed, not physically even though it sometimes felt like it. I couldnít move or get out of bed. I cried. I began stockpiling pills once again and night after night Iíd fight the urge to end my life to escape the horror and darkness that was now my life. Hopelessness had set in and it seemed destined to stay. I decided to share this waging war with my mom which wasnít easy for me to tell. Iím sure it was a living nightmare for her to hear again.
I had seen doctors, therapists, had been on just about every medication out there, had prayed, been prayed for over and over, read the Word, listened to praise music; on and on the list goes. There were two things keeping me going. One was that I knew God had wanted me alive and it wasnít my place to end it and the other, knowing how it would hurt my family. That was especially true for my mom since sheíd been my combat buddy throughout this ordeal.
I still felt alone though in the fight most times. One night when I was home visiting my mom asked if we could pray together before I went to bed. She knew that nighttime was the hardest time for me since it was the time when the compulsions to end my life were the strongest and that I had trouble sleeping because of it. So we began praying that night acknowledging Godís presence and power and asking for His help together as we had done individually.
After I left to go back home to Dallas I called her when I got home that night and she asked at the end of our conversation if she could pray with me again. So began our nightly routine of what I found to be a powerful time of reconnecting with God, with her, the rest of my family and others. I had withdrawn and become reclusive out of the depression. God began healing me in a way He hadnít before then. It wasnít all of a sudden. It was the persistence. We continued for months before the light started shining in my heart once again.
My mom essentially taught me that God was still there even though I couldnít feel that He was. Just as David had felt in dark places and cried out to God, my mom was teaching me to cry out to God. She also taught me that I wasnít alone in spite of the fact that I was physically alone. The Lord Jesus was with me just as He promised and my mom was with me even if it was by phone. My mom reminded me that God dwells within me so He is always with me.
My mom and I have a different relationship now than we did before. We share the good, the bad and the ugly, and we turn it over to the Lord. There are times I wonder how God has answered prayers about others that we diligently offered night and night. I shudder to think about what my relationship with God would look like without those prayer times. What I can tell you is that less than three months ago my doctor would have told you I would need no less than five to seven years of intensive therapy, but miraculously, thatís been cut short. God has brought healing in my life.
Iíve learned much from my mom. One thing in particular is that prayer changes people and that praying with others is a unique and special communion with the Lord. Thatís why we seldom miss a night of payer even though weíre over 600 miles apart. Now I realize that teachers arenít just the ones who stand in front of a classroom. My mom was my first teacher when I was little. Now that Iím grown up, she still teaches me.
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