Recently I was thrilled to entertain 8 of my 10 grandchildren at what our family has termed, Nammy Camp. It’s a kid-driven camp. The grans provide the fun ideas. I plan the menus, and provide the venue. There is only one restriction–no electronics!!
Instead, my grandchildren spend time outside: swimming in my above ground pool, taking walks on trails in the woods, exploring, trying their hand at cooking, taking rides on a 4-wheeler, eating most of our meals outside on the picnic table, interacting with extended family members at a cookout, using their imaginations to build a brick fort, getting wet in a high spirited game of water balloons, learning a new game called ‘ladder ball toss’; playing chess, organizing a spa day for facials, manicures, and hair do’s; enjoying movie night with popcorn, rising early to watch a sunrise, and chasing fireflies at twilight!
The time they were running around, laughing, and playing proved all too short. Fortunately, I didn’t have to say goodbye all at once. They left in 3 stages. Inevitably though, the final send off arrived. After waving goodbye from the front porch, as our last grandchildren drove off, I could sense the beginnings of a struggle.
The struggle to reject the fiery dart thoughts of overwhelming sadness! For now my house was silent and empty. I walked around the yard picking up pool toys and trash left behind by my campers. Storing lawn chairs and pool inflatables in the shed kept my mind from dwelling on the obvious.
As each moment passed, the temptation to give in to the sadness grew stronger. But before I could be overwhelmed, God offered me a two-fold weapon. One aspect of this weapon was to reject the sad thoughts so that they would not rule my thinking. Thoughts of this nature would influence negative attitudes and actions (p. 93, FD’s 3rd ed). The second aspect was to choose thoughts that would lift my spirits.
Indeed, I had a hefty supply of memories from the previous days to draw upon. Truth thoughts from Scripture provided a rich source of strength and resolve.
As the hours passed, the force of the enemy’s attacks lessened. By filling my mind with hopeful words from Scripture and happy memories, there was little room for the sad thoughts to plant themselves. By wielding God’s weapons, we can overcome the enemy when he attacks.
For the past year my son, daughter in law, and two small grandsons have been on stateside assignment. For 9 of those months they lived in Scotland while my son worked on his masters. Not living in a 3rd world country, we have enjoyed the luxury of easy access to them via internet.
At present they are living with us as they prepare to return to Africa. And once again I’m faced with the painful thought that they will be leaving soon. But something unexpected happened while they were home that complicated the emotional strain of sending them off.
My husband and I have four children and two of them live near us. We take a great deal of comfort in knowing two of our daughters are close by. That was until recently! In April we were hit with the news that one of those daughters would likely be moving an 11 hours’ drive away to San Antonio, Texas. (And they did just that on August 18th)
Therefore, this summer has been one of extreme high’s and extreme lows. There was a constant flow of children and grandchildren in our house all summer. Three of those weeks were especially momentous: Nammy Camp for the 6 granddaughters, a family vacation in East Tennessee for all 20 of us, and Nammy Camp for the 4 grandsons. The month of August our son and his family has been spent here with my husband and I. My life was filled to overflowing with memory after wonderful memory of times spent together.
The quote from A Tale of Two Cities (post title), describes my emotional state over this past summer quite succinctly. And predictably with every low moment I was hit with a barrage of fiery darts.
It would have been my undoing had it not been for God’s instruction which had prepared me to not only identify fiery dart thinking but how to extinguish such thoughts as well. While the pain persists, I’m learning by His tender mercies, how to manage it. My life moves forward as God tenderly and lovingly leads me.
One of the most helpful Truth Thoughts I have found is Psalm 34:17:
How does God deliver me from my present troubles and rescue my crushed spirit?
If I cooperate with God, He will give me the desire that pleases Him (Philip. 2:13) He will remind me that He will fill the void when my children move away. (Philip. 4:19).
His presence will restore my crushed spirit. Every time I began to focus on my loss, He reminds me to direct my focus towards His presence and the love He has for me. (Psalm 16:11)
He reminds me that He will work all this out for my good (Rom 8:28).
Okay, so I have a choice!
I can pick up my shield of faith and face down the enemy with these Truth Thoughts!
Or I can continue to focus on my losses and grow more miserable with every day!