Have you ever wondered how the words “…all things work together for good” fit properly into the set of circumstances you are facing?
There I was, 49 years old, sitting across from a psychiatrist being assessed for a possible mental disorder. Wait a minute. A mental disorder? Who me? Months prior, a concerned friend had asked me if I thought I might be bi-polar. That possibility had never crossed my mind. However, I had often wondered if there was something that could really be wrong with me. Rather than be offended or ashamed about what may be, I agreed to investigate, and ended up in her office.
Do you ever fidget? How is your impulse control? Are you often irritable? Do you have difficulty focusing? Are you forgetful? How would you rate your ability to concentrate? Do you have trouble paying attention? Do your thoughts race? Would you say you have a short attention span? Are you or have you ever been anxious? Have you ever been depressed?
After 45 minutes of questioning, I couldn’t help but wonder if this perfect stranger actually knew me. I answered affirmatively to almost every question she asked. The tallied result would indicate my situation was severe, but I was not bi-polar. I exhaled deeply. I felt vindicated… I was NOT crazy! Another deep breath… I felt hopeful. Finally, the “whatever this is” had a name… I had adult ADHD. I had prayed and cried and prayed. I had asked others to pray for me and cried some more. I had beaten myself to a bloody pulp on a regular basis over my inability to do become productive and accomplish tasks. “What is the matter with me?”
When no answers came, I decided that I was the problem. I was defective, unable to concentrate, incapable of finishing projects, unproductive, unfocused, and undisciplined. I branded myself sinful, disobedient, lacking faith. I had fallen into the dark abyss of self-loathing and self-hatred. In order to cope with all of my perceived shortcomings, I learned to compensate by working harder, getting up earlier, doing more, being better. I had become a performer. I was trying to be perfect. Striving to please an unrelenting and insufferable taskmaster. Unfortunately though in an unforeseen turn, the end results of all my “work” made me look like a proud, arrogant, self-righteous know it all.
I did not ever see this as being one of those “all things working together for good” scenarios. I had come to the conclusion that I would not and could not be fixed. Then, I listened to wise counsel, got out of my own head and sought professional assistance. I found out that none of what I had believed about myself was actually true. I was reassured that my diagnosis was not uncommon. The doctor said she had many middle aged patients with adult ADHD that had gone undiagnosed. I was not unproductive, unfocused, undisciplined, sinful, disobedient or lacking faith. I simply had a long-standing issue that needed to be addressed.
My encouragement to anyone facing an “all things” moment is this:
1. Submit yourself to God as Father. Recognize that whatever may be “wrong” with you has already been “father filtered”. Isaiah 64:8 says, “He is the Potter, all of us are the work of His hand.” Whatever the construct, we have been fearfully and wonderfully made. Skillfully wrought by a Sovereign God who does not make mistakes. Know he did not make any mistakes concerning you. Reckoning this truth will give you the freedom to receive the help you need.
2. Begin to delight in the events that have tethered you intimately to His side. Rejoice that provision has already been made for your weakness. Jesus says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” His powerful ability is more than enough to complete you, carry you through, and add to what is insufficient in the midst of your infirmity. Boast in the weakness that has worked for the good to bring you closer to him in fellowship.
3. Surrender yourself fully to the Lord Jesus Christ. The word “Lord” (kyrios) means “He to whom a person or thing belongs, the possessor of a thing, one who has control of a person, a title of respect and reverence.” Romans 10:9 is oft quoted to the unsaved, but let’s apply it now to those already in the household of faith. It says: “That if you confess that Jesus is Lord (the owner and master)…you will be saved. That word saved means to be kept safe and sound, to rescue from danger, to save one suffering from a disease, to make well, to heal, to restore to health. Unless he owns us, we will be limited in how much of him we experience. If he owns us, he is bound to care for us. Our “all things” moments demand that we surrender. When we do this, it provides a Kingdom perspective in whatever we are facing. It also brings liberty and the freedom of release to lavish our love on Him for who he is as he moves in power on our behalf.
Learning to live with a new normal has been a bit challenging to say the least. There have been quite a few missteps and do-overs in the process. In the midst of dismantling all my coping mechanisms, I have embraced the lighter yoke of grace and the easier burden of unfailing love. I am broken and blessed. All of the fragments of that brokenness have been gathered and nothing was lost. All things are indeed working for my good, with His purposes and plans unfolding to give me hope and a bright future.
Let's discuss! Leave your comments, questions or prayer requests in the comments section below. Blessings!
Ingrid Shanklin, a wife, mother, teacher and disciple-maker has used a very practical and humorous approach to touch the lives of men and women around the world. Married to Dr. Abraham Shanklin for 29 years and mother of 4 children, Ingrid gleaned much of her training for ministry while a stay-at-home mom and the Chief Executive Officer of the Shanklin Home. Ingrid is the author of The Grace of A King.
Her uncommon ability to combine authority and humor while communicating has served her well as she has shared the reality of life experiences. Although Ingrid is a mentor, bible lay counselor, teacher, preacher, pastor, facilitator, and speaker her deep desire is to disciple women and to see them living in the fullness of their kingdom identity.