Surviving the Valley Series

Surviving the Valley Series
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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Moving forward

We sadly have had to say goodbye to Dallas Baptist University for a while, which left me with many conflicting emotions that have taken me some time to process and sort through. Now that the second semester has officially started as of this last week, the reality that my son is no longer there really hit me.

College proved to be a struggle from the first week of his first semester, while at the same time, an experience like no other that he absolutely cherished. The English he needed to know and use in college definitely surpassed his ability quite often, but his lack of study skills and time-management skills (and his heightened social/emotional needs due to his background) really kicked his butt this last semester. The school worked with him, mentored him, provided all sorts of tutoring and writing help, but I never saw the drive he needed that could help him find success. Despite all the extra support, connection, prayer, and encouragement behind him, he just couldn't pull it off.  Truth is, he gave up trying, knowing yet not fully understanding the consequences behind that choice. The government will only extend so much grace in offering financial aid. Now he'll have to work even twice as hard to earn that aid back if he wants to continue his studies at DBU. The effects of background trauma are real, and unfortunately, sometimes just unavoidable. 

So, we were left with no choice but to bring him back home and give him time to reflect and regroup, to find himself...and mature a little bit more.

As soon as I finally finished getting his room turned back into a bedroom that reflected his color choice and personality (after finally clearing my classroom out), I began to use that room again as my prayer room. It's amazing what that little room does for my soul. Oh, the stories that it holds and the prayers that have been baked into those walls for him and two of his siblings. That room fills me with such a deep appreciation for my relationship with God and a joy for how I've seen Him work, bringing beauty out of anguish. My faith has been challenged and has grown by leaps and bounds within the four walls of that little room.

Every morning over the last month or two before he came home, I'd sit on the futon couch in there and pray so faithfully for my son, begging God to help him maintain the GPA he needed to keep his funding so that he could stay at DBU. God provided resources we never could have dreamed of that helped him get through those first three semesters, and we truly believed he had all the support he needed to make it. Yet as I prayed for God to keep him there, I also found myself praying that He'd give us wisdom to know how to handle things if he didn't. Wisdom to deal with having a 21 year old back at home after a year and a half of living away from us. Independent, hanging out with friends 24/7 with very little adult supervision or guidance. He just didn't have the maturity to balance that privilege with the responsibilities that came with it, and I feel God was preparing me to bring him back home for the nurturing and guidance he still lacked.

When that final week of finals came, we sadly learned that he'd already thrown in the towel and stopped trying. Rather than picking him up for a month of winter break, we had to empty his apartment of all of his things and move him back home into that little room. Even though he knew his own choices led him straight back home, he was so angry to be here. Meanwhile we also struggled with quite a bit of anger and disappointment. None of that made a good combination.

But then we offered grace. Mike followed a nudging from the Holy Spirit to take Juan out for lunch, to verbally extend him grace, lay down a few expectations for his new role in our home, and to just clear the slate and support him moving forward. Things really lightened up after that, and though we still see a little boy trapped in an adult body, we've seen him try a bit harder to assume some responsibilities and realize that we work together as a family around here.

We tried to just enjoy a small vacation as a family and create more memories over the Christmas holiday, and then he started applying for jobs. I figured a wide open schedule would help him land a job quickly, but no such luck. I kept praying for just the right job for him, one that will help him figure himself out and guide him toward making better future choices regarding how he manages his time. I also prayed that God would open up just the right job that will connect him with people that can help him mature as a young adult.

I took him to school with me to volunteer for two days in my classroom the first week he was home, and my kids absolutely adored him. He worked so well with one particular student with special needs, and I let him know that he definitely had a gift for working with that child. That got us thinking about the possibility of him working in a school as a classroom assistant. So, he applied for four totally different aide positions within the district at four different schools (two elementary schools and two high schools). We were all thrilled when he got the call offering him the job to work with special needs students at his own brother's high school, just straight up the road from our house.

The waiting game has been painful--as he still sits waiting on a fingerprint appointment to be able to officially start, but I'm thankful we're waiting on final details for a job he's already been offered rather than to still be sitting waiting on yet another interview.

One thing God has taught me with this particular child (from the beginning of our first adoption process for him) is that I can't make plans for him. I can pray for him daily and then just trust God with him day by day, week by week. Every day I have to put him in God's hands and trust that I've done all I can do. God has great plans for him, and DBU is just not in that plan for this semester or possibly this whole next year. All I have to do is go in his room, remember all that God has done, and remind myself that God chose us to be his family.

He may be 21 years old, but he still desperately needs the love, nurture, and guidance that only a mom and dad can give him. As I've said before, four years at home with us were just not enough to fill in all the gaps. So we work hard to find that balance of treating him as the adult that he is (with many hard, natural consequences) while loving him, nurturing him, connecting with him, and guiding him at the emotional level we see him at each day.

DBU may still be in his future (he truly does want to go back), but we'll let God guide us from here to know when he's ready and mature enough to tackle another class or two. For now, I look forward to seeing how God uses this new job to continue to guide him. And I trust that those first three semesters at DBU fulfilled a very significant purpose in who he is meant to become.

So long, for now, DBU. Who knows? In just three short semesters, I may have another son heading your way--or perhaps two at the same time. 

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