Draw Him Near
- Robi Lipscomb
- 2004 5 May
I pretty much know it's from God when it is the last option on earth I would consider. That's how it was with a crazy idea that began to form in my heart when I was at the height of conflict with my eleven-year-old son.
I was praying about what boarding school to send him to. I was desperate and hurting. I loved my son, but he seemed more and more unmanageable and unreachable every day. He was only eleven, but I knew without a major change I might lose him in the teen years. He was not a bad kid; in fact everyone outside our immediate family thought he was well behaved. Our home, however, had become a battleground.
It was about two years after my oldest son had been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Our world had been turned upside down by the diagnosis, but we were finally finding a new normal. As the new normal set in I realized two things: One, my younger son had sort of faded out of the picture while we coped with my older son's diagnosis. Two, my younger son's behavior problems that had existed before had gone underground in the early days of dealing with his older brother's illness but were now resurfacing with a vengeance.
My husband, my older son and I felt like we were walking on ice or broken glass most of the time. My younger son was miserable, angry and felt isolated, even unloved. In the height of a conflict he would scream, "You don't understand me or, I hate you." None of us could see exactly what was wrong or see a solution. I finally resigned myself to the fact that I was failing as a parent to my younger son and that in order to get him some help and the rest of us some peace I needed to consider sending him to a boarding school. I was hoping that they could teach him the discipline and respect that I had failed at.
Then God intervened and whispered something very strange to me in my quiet time. The words from God seemed to be, Draw him near. I felt God calling me to pull my youngest son out of school to home school him.
I wanted to send my son away, get him out of our house - not spend more time with him. To me, more time meant more fights, more tears, and more pain, more of me letting him down and failing. I could not understand why God would want that. I knew God wanted a change and my hearts desire was to love my son. I wanted to love all the conflict away, but nothing was working. Getting up to go to school was a battle, school work was a battle, going to do anything as a family was a battle. My son complained about everything, disliked everything, nothing made him happy. Everything became a battle of wills and in every battle we were all losing. Spending more time with my son, home schooling my son, seemed absolutely impossible. Of course impossible is God's favorite word.
God brought two men into my path. Both of these men were very successful, popular and respected. Both men had younger brothers who, even as adults, struggled and made more bad choices than good. Both men shared with me that they had always felt that their younger brothers did not get something they needed when they were young. Neither man could define it, but both expressed a belief that the outcome of their younger brothers' lives could have been changed if their parents had seen what was happening and done things differently.
Next I met a home school mom that told me she had a unique way of dealing with her kids when conflict arose. She called it "shadowing." If she and one of her kids were at odds with each other she would require them to be at her side at all times. She told me that by spending an intense amount of time together they were able to identify the root of the conflict and resolve it.
Armed with these gifts of insight from God, I prepared to pull my youngest son out of school and home school him despite all my fears, inadequacies and doubt. The day I went to pick him up from school, I paused at the door as I over heard him talking to a friend as he packed up his things. His friend said, "Now why is your Mom home schooling you?" And I heard my son reply, "She wants to spend more time with me." I almost cried. That is the reason we had told everyone. That is the reason behind the decision, but when I heard him say it, it was if I was hearing it for the first time. I knew right then that even if he did not learn a thing and even with all the conflict that it might bring, it was imperative that my son know, without a doubt, that I wanted to spend time with him.
The first weeks were rocky to say the least. We had to set up several safety nets to keep us from blowing up at each other. As the weeks went by I began to learn all kinds of things about my son that I hadn't known. I found out he had some unique and amazing gifts from God that caused him to think and verbalize things very differently. It was as if he had a language and a thought process all his own. As I learned his language and discovered his strengths and weaknesses, I was able to communicate with him more and more effectively.
Don't get me wrong, it was still tough -- the toughest nine weeks I had experienced in a long time. Eleven years of miscommunication and old habits cannot be changed in nine weeks.
My husband and I prayed that God would continue to reveal our son's unique gifts and how to communicate with him. "Draw him near" became our new battle cry. That battle cry was the gift that God used to make the change in all of us. My youngest son is 14 now. He is not the same person he was when he was 11. He knows we love him in a way that he did not know then. Anything is possible with God.
With as much energy and joy as the youth she interacts with this active parent, student leader, teacher brings a unique connection to youth and college students. Having been raised in a Christian home and yet experiencing the "typical" teen transition into adulthood, Robi is committed to sharing the supernatural truth of Jesus Christ with teens and college students in a genuine and sometime "slightly in your face" way in order to guide them through the challenging issues they face today. Email Robi at www.robilipscomb.com.