I am so excited to welcome Veronica Herzing to my blog today! Veronica is not only a good friend of mine, but she also serves on our Online Bible Studies team. Veronica shares straight from her heart, with courage, a piece of her life that most would just keep to themselves. Hopefully because of what she experienced, someone else will be spared. Or maybe you can relate to her experience because you feel the same way. May you find redemption and restoration from God as a result of reading her story. No matter your situation, you will be blessed by reading today’s guest post by Veronica.
A Family Redeemed by God
Can I tell you something? After reading two pages of Chapter 5 I decided I do not like this chapter – not one bit. Why? Because it brought up a few hundred regrets and “if only’s.” I wish I would have raised my children on a solid foundation of Jesus, but I didn’t.
My husband and I went to church every week, baptized our children, sent our children to CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine), prayed at meals and bedtime, and as any good Catholics do, we didn’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent. All this was good right? Well, partially.
There was one crucial thing we didn’t know to teach our children: how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Why? Because although we believed and had a deep faith, we didn’t have one. We didn’t know how to.
Our house was filled with screaming, yelling, tantrums and the occasional “I can’t do this anymore” moments. Our son is autistic, he was misdiagnosed for years. He had some huge behavior issues that got worse when he was placed in a behavior modification classroom within the school district. I became a controlling parent, allowing my emotions to dictate my responses to our son. I wanted the stars and the moon and the Brady Bunch version and by gosh I was going to have it! I signed us up for every parenting class available. I read all the books on how to be the best parent for our autistic child. I would read all the books, devise a game plan and then inform my husband how it would all work. I had it all color coded, nice and neat in a binder with index tabs for every situation we might come across. This binder sat on the kitchen counter to be referenced at a moment’s notice. Anytime my husband got it wrong, I would be sure to point it out to him, pointing at the parent manual. I did this because I wanted him to become the best dad in the world. Side note: I am sure you know how this ended, right? Are you laughing at my foolishness? Trust me, I can’t believe some of the things I have put that man through!! But the truth is I just wanted better for our home. What’s wrong with that?
Not surprising, we argued a lot! I wanted our family to be close, to like each other, to feel important and valued. My husband didn’t really care if we were close or not. He was strict and went to great lengths to make a lesson stick, no matter the crying, the screaming, the tantrums, or what people thought or where we were when a lesson needed enforcing. I wanted easy, not to be embarrassed, and peaceful outcomes. I also wanted to protect our son, so I often said, “He is autistic. He can’t do what other kids his age can do. If he had no legs would you tell him if he tried hard enough he could walk?” My husband would say, “Yes, he is autistic but there is a real world out there that doesn’t care. Are you going to have him carry a sign that says ‘I am autistic don’t expect anything from me?’”
Years went by, events happened, and poor choices were made. In the end, my husband was right. Today we are living the consequences of my decisions and actions. Our son is 22 years old and takes no responsibility for any of his actions. He finds loopholes in everything and he has no motivation. Our home is still filled with screaming, yelling, tantrums and the occasional “I can’t do this for one more minute!” I give my husband all the respect in the world for never once saying “I told you so. Instead he gives me a hug, reassures me and then takes over until I have pulled myself together. He has the lead on the parenting now.
As I read chapter 5, I began wishing I had those years back. I wanted a DO OVER! Well, there is no such thing as a do over when raising your family. It’s a one shot deal, but thankfully the story doesn’t end here. You see, God is in the business of redeeming families just like mine…and He did.
Once I finished the chapter, I talked to my husband about it. I told him “I wish I would have let you take the lead in parenting from the beginning. I wish I would have supported you fully. I am thankful that I am learning to do better now. I’m not a fearful, controlling parent anymore, but instead I allow our son, Matt, to learn from life – the good parts and the bad.” My wonderful husband looked at me and asked, “So what’s different now?” I wasn’t sure I knew what he meant. He repeated, “What’s different now. What finally got you to this point – after all the books, classes, right way vs. wrong way? Why can you now let him fail when the consequences are so much higher?” I answered “I don’t know.” He leaned over and said “I do. You finally found God and gave up all control.”
It was then that it hit me. The one thing that had been missing all those years was God! All those things I did to change Matt’s behavior were just that – things I did, things I tried to control. Now as I grow in my confidence of who I am in Christ, deepen my relationship with Him and believe in His promises, I can step aside and trust fully in God while being the parent that He calls me to be.
As I read To Guard or Not to Guard in Chapter 5, I realized how different I am in my actions, behaviors and thoughts. Now I have God by my side. Now I have a personal relationship with Him. Now I trust Him. It’s so freeing to have God in control. It’s so freeing to know God is not finished with us yet and can bring good out of what I considered a big mess.
Today, if I was offered a DO OVER, would I take it? NOT A CHANCE! How else would I have discovered to what extent I needed the Lord? This family of 22 years is a true and living testimony to God’s glory that He is our REDEEMER.
We are a family redeemed by God.
Isn’t amazing what God can do? Veronica wanted to share her story with you because she has been impacted in a big way by having faith and trusting God. I know you were blessed by her story and it is my prayer that as we continue to study and share, we will grow in our own faith and deepen our personal relationships with our awesome and wonderful God. We are well on our way to An Untroubled Heart.