I've been thinking lately about my old battle wounds. It surprises me more than ever that I still have them. The battles now seem an age ago. So much so, that I often wonder if I just imagined them.
I'm talking about spiritual battles of course. Those deep dark places in our lives when you feel helpless and alone. I'm not in that place anymore, but I have not yet met a Christian who has never been there.
The most difficult, and painful I believe, are the battles with other believers. One does not expect to be hurt by a fellow soldier. Perhaps even someone who was supposed to look out for us. Not only does it make a person not feel like there is anywhere to turn, but that there is no one to talk to.
I think that when Satan attacks a believer, it is with the purpose of rendering him/her useless. Our salvation is not within Satan's power to take. However, his desire is to destroy our effectiveness, our ministries, our hope, our confidence...our lives, basically. I sense from so many of my friends, and in my own life, a forgetfulness of the battle waging on. And it's not against the Democrats, liberals, and secular media.
There is a battle for our attention. Satan's classic tactic is to make us unaware or uninterested.
In this "year that I turned 30" I'm in deep reflection mode. As I look back on the last 30 years, I see a string of attacks that Satan has waged, and now I sit here on our farm in peace. Well, that's not entirely true. We had a blatant demonic attack right here in our house a few years ago which I will never forget involving Silje. I won't get into the details, but when it finally dawned on me what was happening, I told Knut, and we confidently went to prayer in Jesus' name and the attack stopped. Immediately. As in, that very second. Normally, it's not that unhidden.
It was a time, though, when I realized that Satan wasn't just after me anymore. He's after my kids. I don't want my kids to grow up sheltered. A sheltered person is unaware of the enemies tactics, the horror of the battle, or even the battle at all. When I hear of kids growing up and walking away from their faith, I'm terrified that I'll lose one of my kids. I cannot imagine the pain of not being able to worship together with one of my children. I feel so called to protect my kids, while making them aware of the battle. It's silly, really, because as I sit back and reflect, it's God who has been protecting them. It's God who can claim their hearts, not me. As I'm writing this, I see Solveig and Elias playing together, and it is so sweet. I want so badly to be able to guarantee their future, and spare them from the battle. They will not be spared from battle, though. However, I know God will not leave them. My faith has to rely on him, and not my ability to shelter them. My job as a parent is to disciple them, which is the hardest job I have ever, EVER had.
A few months ago, Silje asked me what an alcoholic was. She's almost 7 years old. It's only upon reflection that I realize, that question would not have occurred to me when I was 7. By 7 years old, my family had been torn by alcoholism, my dad had left, my grandparents were just finishing their 2 year stay with us to help my mom finish college, and we were about to be on our own. (My mom, older brother, older sister, and me.) When I was 7 years old, I nearly defined my life as one affected by alcoholism. For a long time, I saw that as my identity. It's only as an adult that I see how God has replaced that heritage with a new one. When the depth of what being adopted by God actually means, and how far our heavenly Father is willing to take us.
It wasn't always that way, though. As the story goes, at least. My dad was the casualty of a battle, and he and his whole family still bare the scars. I go through day to day, forgetting that they are there. It's when a baby is born, like Solveig, and there is a gaping whole in the family. It's during those times when family gathers together when you notice who is missing. It's when you realize what year it is...and it's the year you've been waiting more than half your life to come.
I have a half brother who was given up for adoption when I was 12 years old. He turns 18 in exactly one month. I remember feeling such relief knowing he had been placed in a family. I remember praying for him all the time. I would pray that his family would teach him about Jesus. I prayed he would be shown unconditional love. I used to write him letters when I was supposed to be doing math. The letters were never sent, but I think writing them was a good way for me to process it all. It made him remain real to me, and not just some dream I had a long time ago.
I remember watching other boys his age growing up and thinking, "I bet he's doing something like this now." So next month he turns 18. I've built it up to such a climax in my thoughts that the reality that it won't be the day I've been dreaming of is sinking in. All of the childhood fantasies are giving way to grown up reality of what this birthday will mean for him.
As my siblings and I are gathering information and trying to sign up for registries, I think that we have a common goal. I don't think we mean to charge in and claim him as ours. I think we all recognize the family that raised him as "his real family." We do not want to cause him stress or pull him from people who he loves. I think all we want is to let him know we are here...that we exist. I want him to know that we've been praying for him his whole life, and have never forgotten him. In my own highest dream, I would like to meet him. I would like us to all be together: my brother and sister from both my parents, my sister from my dad's second marriage, and him.
When my heart dreams, we'll have a tearful meeting, and have lots of hugs. He will be a loving man who loves the Lord, and will feel grace wash all over him when he sees how God has been working in his life from the beginning. We won't have him for things like Christmas, as that should be with his family. We'll exchange Christmas cards, and be there for him if he should ever need us. If he should ever want information, or just need to process, like we are still processing.
The reality sinks in that he may not want to meet us, and while the child in me would weep, I think the adult in me would completely understand. The reality is maybe he would spite us. Maybe he's afraid of hurting his parents by pursuing us. Maybe he would ignore us. The reality is sinking in that June 24th will likely come and pass with no fanfare. Maybe any contact is still years away, when he is ready. Maybe it will never happen.
It won't pass without remembrance, though. When you reflect upon old battle scars, it's inevitable that you come to a place where you reflect on God's mercy on your life. You sit and reflect and see God's hand clearly moving and working in a family...breaking patterns of sin that we have come to expect. So as this day approaches, I'm spending a lot of time remembering where God has brought me. I think about the life God has prepared for me here, and every person he put in my life to bring me here. I'm still in awe that the God of all creation, cared enough for me. He cared enough for my family. I can rejoice for the family he gave my brother out of love. He gave me a new name, and a new identity. He's still trying to get hard lessons through my thick head. He never gives up or stops teaching me. I can't help but let the tears fall when I reflect on this. How great is our God!