Community Provides Hope
I don’t like to feel alone. As a creature created by a communal God, I know God doesn’t want me to feel alone either.
Hear me, I’m not feeling alone because I don’t have the best garden of friends on the planet. I do! It’s just that I have found myself in a new place with a new challenge, and I’m trying to explain it the best I can but I’m having a hard time finding people who get it. Who get my worries and weaknesses. My friends are the best at compassionately walking beside me in whatever hurdle I am facing. I am so grateful for that! But I long for someone who understands this newly unique place I’m in.
That would require that I understand the newly unique place I’m in. And I don’t. Double struggle.
Taking Worry to God Alone
Last week, I mentioned a new need in our family, the need for an IEP, that’s Individualized Education Plan. It’s a long process with a steep learning curve. I’m already overwhelmed. Feelings of inadequacy are triggering a strong desires to buy a dozen books and school myself in the IEP process. I’m holding back. One of the things that God has been teaching me is to depend on him more deeply, more completely when I feel the need to seek help from books, friends, and Chris. He wants me to take my worry, the thing that sometimes drives my deep dives into research, to take that worry and pray it out. I’ve been doing that, journaling and praying and asking God to lead me instead of letting my worry lead me. The peace in unmistakeable.
This IEP process is nebulous. We wait for tests and professional to assess the situation. I have no idea really what happens next. I have no idea what to prepare for. No idea what to ask for. Honestly, even though I know people get IEP’s all the time, I feel alone in this. God knows I feel alone. I told him. Now what?
And then, this happened.
I ran into a mom at Peet’s Coffee and somehow, within the few minutes we had before the barista called out our coffees and we had to run off to the next thing, somehow, we ended up on the IEP. Her child has one already. She knows this space of worry and uncertainty. “What, you too? I thought I was the only one,” as C.S. Lewis so famously said. So, I ventured out and vulnerably shared my worries and inadequacy to face this new challenge. It didn’t scare her off. She smiled and promised to pray for me and my child. She will too. I left in awe and wonder. Did that just happen?
And then, I ran into a different mom at Peet’s Coffee and it happened again.
And slowly, I realized, God is doing a new thing.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)
A God-Created Community
God is creating for me a community where I needed a community. He loves me so personally that he is creating something new for me. Something that I only began to realize I was missing and had no idea how to find.
I certainly have community, maybe the best! In this place, over 20 years, we have put down deeply, strong roots in our church, doing life with families with similar love for Jesus. Twenty years of building and growing relationships, being with others in the middle of their nights and receiving their help in the middle of our dark nights.
Now, in this new night, where hope will surely dawn at some point, God is building a community around me. Bringing specific people at specific times. Specific verses, promises, encouragement just when I need it. I know he will continue to do this for me. New hope is stirring.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Having a community doesn’t mean the hurdle will go away. This IEP thing isn’t going away anytime soon. The hurdles are too big. We are just beginning a long road to healing. Having a community means I won’t walk this alone. I never do anyway. Jesus is always with me. I can, and often do, pray for him to remind me of his presence because it comforts me. Sometimes, I am reminded of his presence through a verse or a hymn. This week, his presence was in the face of two moms who have walked this road before me, who held out their hands and said, “Come, I’ll walk this road with you.” His arms of love wrapped around me through a knowing smile, a gentle word, a promise of prayer for my family.
The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
He loves me so personally.
5 Simple Steps to Navigate an IEP Meeting with Hope
In light of this new hope springing in my soul, I made a list of things I will do to remain hopeful in this IEP process. Five simple steps I promised myself to take, by faith, and with hope. I wrote them out for me, but I’m sharing them with those of you who have not found your IEP community yet. May they help you as you walk this road with Jesus.