Unspecified Psychotic Disorder
Unspecified Mood Disorder
Disruptive Mood Disregulation Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder
In the last six months, my daughter has received every one of these diagnoses. Nearly every one of them has symptoms and behaviors that overlaps with nearly every other one on the list. The “unspecifieds” made it so that no therapist in our entire area would see our child – too challenging. (Let that sink in a minute – a person who has gotten a degree specifically to help people with mental problems says that the possibility that my child has a mental problem means that she is beyond their abilities to help. And not just one person, but every person – including those with PhD’s – refused to help a 14 year old child because it was POSSIBLE that she had psychosis. The depths of my frustration, anger and overall disappointment with our local therapeutic resources can not even be expressed.)
It was when her psychiatrist – who had the annoying habit of spending most of the hour talking to us instead of to our daughter, and when she did speak to our daughter did so in a condescending way that showed she hadn’t the first clue how to connect with her – declared that our daughter “most certainly” would end up back in our Children’s hospital psych ward and the “best case” scenario was Bipolar, “more likely” was Schizophrenia, that I teetered on the edge of despair. When the only school in our area that we thought could help our child made a point of saying that they were not “therapeutic” and could not prevent her from harming herself, I felt the panic creeping in. When the psychiatrist said the best plan was to accept that we were helpless and immediately enroll our daughter in the public high school – that’s what we pay taxes for isn’t it? – smack in the middle of testing season, with no preparation and no educational protections in place – I knew there had to be a better way. Thank God, I was right.*
~ * ~
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus[a] was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
John 11: 1-3, 5-6
These women, who knew Jesus in a way I can not know him until eternity, sent word to Jesus that their beloved brother was very ill. It was like a simple prayer, sent in absolute faith. “Dear Lord, our brother, whom we know you love, is ill.”
I prayed prayers like that. At first. In the beginning it was “God, something is wrong with my little girl. Please help her.” Then, over time, I used more words and started adding in instructions, in case I wasn’t being clear enough about what was needed.
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”
Uhhh, wut? If someone you love calls to you for help, do you reply, “I love you, so I will not come for two more days”? Not me. I’m coming on the run, heart pumping, ready to swoop in and fix it. Because that is what I do. I swoop and I fix. And every day since before my daughter was even in my arms, it is what I have been doing, swooping and fixing.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Jesus didn’t run as fast as he could to Lazarus, swoop in and fix (heal) him.
He let him die.
This is the brother of Mary and Martha. Mary, who poured perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiped it with her hair. This woman loved Jesus and trusted Him, wholeheartedly. Can you imagine how she felt when He didn’t come and her brother died?
Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.
No need to imagine, we can read it for ourselves. She collapsed at His feet and sobbed. She was so despondent that Jesus was “greatly troubled.”
I have never lost a close loved one to death. But over the last several months, I watched my child slip away. I know grief. I know despair. I know what it is to fall at Jesus feet and say “If you had answered my prayers, my child would be well right now.”
Why didn’t Jesus just heal Lazarus?
He planned to do more than they could think or imagine. He was not content to leave Mary and Martha with what they knew of Him so far. He was not interested in meeting their expectations, because He planned to exceed them.
– Jennifer Kennedy Dean, Praying the Promises of God
How did He exceed those expectations? He brought Lazarus back from the dead. Literally.
The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
(You probably all have heard the story, but if you haven’t, check it out, it’s in the book of John, chapter 11.)
We are no where near the end of our story. But today, when I read this devotion, I thought, this is what God is doing in our family. He could have just healed our daughter. Just taken away the behaviors or the disorder or the anxiety – at this point He’s still the only one who truly knows what precisely is wrong. But I believe He wants to do more. More than a simple healing, I believe He wants to bring my daughter back to life. And maybe not just her, but our whole family.
I don’t understand it all right now. I believe, but I still cry, often. I admit, it’s a shaky faith, at times. But just at the moment when my hope was fading, He opened a door and made a way.* And so I continue to trust.
*Consider this another chapter in the telling. There is far too much to put in one or two blog posts.