Last Wednesday I had a long hard day at work. One of the things that made it hard was knowing that night I was going to go to a wake that night for a person I knew in my line of work who had passed unexpectedly. I had arranged child care for the girls, but Anna was having a hard time again and asked me to come home directly from work. I did. She was headed towards another breakdown.
Mandi and I tried reasoning with her, but her depression and anxiety made reasoning impossible. The trick for us was discerning whether we needed to tough it out at home and push her through it, or go to the ER for a psych eval to see if the best thing was to admit her into a C-BAT (Community Based Acute Care) program.
Through some weird twist of providence, I seemed to have the patience, grace, and discernment necessary to listen to her and talk with her in a way that she found encouraging—even if she didn’t like everything I said. Usually, Mandi (aka my wife) is the one who is able to help Anna best (and Anna is definitely a momma’s girl). Mandi is much more naturally (or supernaturally) patient and understanding with her, and often is able to discern what is wrong and what needs said or done. But that night, Mandi was not “it” for whatever reason. Anna did not feel like she could continue to “function as a normal person” and finish the school year, but neither did she want to go into a C-BAT program again. We ended up at the hospital, meaning, I ended up taking her to the hospital. While the team ended up agreeing that a C-BAT might be the best course of action, we decided that we should spend the night at home and re-evaluate in the morning since nothing would be able to happen until then anyway.
Things don’t go as we plan all the time (or ever) do they? We need to be able to roll with it. I’m still learning that. It took a lot of patience, humility, and understanding to deal with the sudden shift of plans, working with Anna, and time in the ER. And, being totally transparent, I should not have had it. I certainly did not expect to have it. But I did. It was very clear to me that the Spirit had “gifted” me with the necessary spiritual strengths to be the father that she needed that night. It was not lost on me that nearly three years previously I had been with Anna in the ER on Father’s Day. I wrote about that here.
In my experience it seems that we often think of gifts of the Spirit as certain things we possess on a regular and long term basis. We have the idea that we each are given a “gift” like we each have some kind of supernatural power that makes us fit for a unique work in the Kingdom of God. We are “called” to do this, “set apart” to do that, and “designed” for thus-and-such kind of work or ministry. While I certainly think that is true (i.e. some people seem to have gifts of teaching, leadership, preaching, mercy, or encouragement, etc.), the fact is God is going to equip us with whatever gift or gifts we need to do the work He has given us to do. We don’t want to get in the place where we think that we only ever have one gift or even two or three or that we will only ever have a particular one, or two, or three. And we don’t want to automatically avoid situations or events because we don’t normally feel we are the ones “gifted” for them. It is not a “one and done” kind of thing. For “he distributes them to each one, just as he determines” (1 Corinthians 12:11, NIV).