Monday, May 25, 2009

Collateral Damage

According to Wikipedia, collateral damage is damage that is unintended or incidental to the intended outcome.

This may or may not be the proper way of describing those who live with others who wrestle with fear and anxiety, but I'm going to go with it.

Spouses, children, and friends are often hurt in the same way second-hand smokers are affected. They may not be the one smoking, but they inhale the results. They are also left feeling powerless to do anything but to stand by and watch. This, in some ways, is just as painful as dealing with it directly. I have been told " I don't know what to tell you. I wish I could help, but I don't know how."

The reality is, few are prepared or equipped to deal with such severe fear and anxiety. The greatest thing anybody living with someone who wrestles with fear and anxiety is to insist they get help, even if it means making an appointment for them. If help is not accepted the loved one in need is like a drowning victim who will only drag you down with them, even though its not their intention to do so.

From personal experience, I have been that drowning victim, and I have pulled others with me, particularly my wife. For several years during difficult times in ministry my wife shouldered the emotional load of both family issues (and we had a few) as well as my depression. It wasn't fair. But, its what she did, and I have had to ask for forgiveness.

I have also had to repent, and repentance took the form of getting help, both medically and spiritually. I had to recognize that my fear and anxiety were rooted in physiological, spiritual, and environmental issues. Just to address it from one aspect would have negated the reality of the others.

I totally believe in the power of prayer, and have an intercessory team praying for me. I also believe in spiritual ware fare and how the Adversary uses our weakness to cause sinful footholds in our life. I have a doctor who knows my family medical history, and a counselor who understands my psychological wiring and work environment. All of these are working in tandem to keep me going. I'm a bit like an Indy race car who needs a whole pit crew to keep me running.

In addition to my spouse, my kids became collateral damage. "Why is Dad so sad? Why does Dad get so angry? Why won't Dad play with us?" I have had to ask for forgiveness from them ,and repent. What does repentance look like with children? I have committed myself not to teach my kids fear, but courage and bravery. With my 8 year old, we have three truths we repeat every day, (1) God is always with you, (2) Mom and Dad will always love you, (3) It's OK to be afraid, but we are able to be brave because of 1 and 2. We repeat it as much for me as we do for her, but I know she is retaining it.

Collateral damage is not the Gospel. Collateral love is. Collateral prayer is. Collateral redemption is. God is in the business of redeeming the ugly and making it beautiful. I guess that's what God calls grace.

Dear Lord,
You are the redeemer of all things. The stone the cutters rejected you used as a cornerstone, a stumbling block. We have not been rejected by you, but have been called by name and redeemed. Help us to recognize what we need and not what we might want. Be with our family members and help them to speak truth to us. Give us ears to hear, eyes to see, feet and hands to respond. May we never forsake your name. You have seen the things we wrestle with far in advance. Our life is laid before you. Help us to be faithful and obedient in all things, and learn to give you thanks in all things, even our suffering. No matter how real or perceived. You hold all things together.