What Blessing Is in Your Fort?
May 17, 2015 06:04AM
By Bonnie Lyn Smith
I came home the day before Mother’s Day from a long-overdue visit with a friend. We had a lovely time as she introduced me to her favorite chocolate shop in Cambridge. I enjoyed an iced milk chocolate (yes, indeedy—that specific!) mocha with the purest chocolate I had ever tasted. It slid down my throat like silky cocoa sweetness with a “Yippee!” as it landed. It was vacation in a cup.
We tooled around a bit, stopping in a naturals store where I picked up a ginger lotion and peppermint essence for my sinus headaches. I don’t usually spend that kind of time shopping for me; it was so incredibly soothing: talking with my sweet friend, walking around in the beautiful sunshine that decided to stay in Boston for a while, and even taking the T, with its rocking rhythms as it jerks forward and later glides to a halting stop.
It was a sensory delight in every way: scents, sounds, sun, smooth mocha intake. I got my peace on in a big big way.
And then—then I came home to a pile of bins, stacks, recycled boxes, etc., in my living room.
My previously neat and orderly living room.
The husband was on an errand. The two youngest were coming down the stairs with more bins, proud as peacocks, and I? I somehow dropped all peace out of every pore, and bubbling blood pressure started the slow gurgle up my body, making its way to a yell as it exited my mouth. No restraint. No evidence of the relaxation I had experienced just a half hour before.
Just. Pure. FREAK-OUT!
It wasn’t pretty.
My tiny living room was now taken over by two kids left home to their own creativity, and what had filled them with collective joy was suddenly squelched and stomped on by Mom’s lack of restraint and self-control.
I was not proud of myself—not at all.
I later took the chance to explain to my kids why that caused a surge of angst but also why I appreciated that they were working so nicely together and had created something so awesome.
I’ll be honest. It took me a few hours to form that more reasonable response.
Fast-forward to my little guy’s integration therapy appointment a few days later. I happily chirped to the therapist that it was his first amazingly functional Monday in weeks and that I credit her for his body regulation (which always helps functioning, focus, mood, flexibility in thinking, etc.). While she was happy to take credit for the end of last week, she said these interesting words:
“Something else must have happened over the weekend to make Monday so great."
To which Little Man replied:
“Oh, my sister and I built the coolest fort, and we lugged bins down the stairs together like a team!”
[As it turns out—and the therapist confirmed—all of that lifting, building, and body contact with heavy items gave him the regulation he needed to wake up functional and happy on Monday.]
In that moment, my heart ran up into my throat and pulsed there. I felt God telling me something. I knew He was showing me that something I had made all grumbly and screamy was actually the help I’d been asking for, just not the way I had imagined.
You see, the very thing I was so busy trying to take back, rewind, throw a fit about was
—now get this part because it may be you too!—
exactly the answer to our problem: how Mondays could stop being so difficult.
See, Little Man has had it in his head for weeks to build a fort. He finally convinced his sister to help him.
God had already whispered into his ears what he needed to do.
I heard (in my selfishness): Inconvenient fort that messes up my personal space.
Little Man heard: “Hey, Little Man. Go build a fort, my son. I love you.”
Which one of us listened to the Father?
Which one of us took the fort as the blessing that it is, asking no questions, just embracing it?
So, I ask you, today, and me (since I clearly still need this lesson):
What blessing is in your fort?
Are you staring at what seems like an inconvenience, mess, problem, or interruption, and feeling your blood boil?
Or are you able to pull it back a layer and ask God: “What are You doing here? Is there something else I should see? Help me to see what You see.”
We may feel we are in a waiting place to see where the blessing is in the middle of the rubble in our lives, but I promise you that He has a plan and a purpose.
The Lord told the Israelites this when He was encouraging them during their time of exile in Babylon:
Jeremiah 29:11-13, ESV, The Lord speaking through Jeremiah the Prophet
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
I’m pretty sure they were wondering where the treasure was in their situation? The blessing? The gift? Turns out it was that He would hear them when they called to Him with honest hearts.
Isaiah 33:15-16, ESV, Isaiah the Prophet speaking
He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking on evil, he will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks; his bread will be given him; his water will be sure.
Now, did my son build a fortress for protection? Not as meant in this verse when fortresses really were essential to nations protecting themselves, but he did find
his bread given him and
his water sure
when he built that thing in my living room, responding to his need and an idea God had given him.
Where can you trust God for the blessing in whatever your fort is today?
Know that when you do, you too will receive what you need: bread and water as you need it—and the hope of everlasting life and peace with God.
For what it’s worth, that fort is staying there for a few weeks. I need the reminder.
How about you?
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.