Last night as I crawled into bed, I got a call from a good friend.  Her voice was strangled with emotion when she greeted me.  “Linda, I need you to listen to this.  I need your opinion.”  She read what appeared to be a short suicide note from her x-husband that she had discovered only a few minutes before the call.  Mental health issues dominate most of this man’s life.  He demanded a divorce for the 20 years that they had been married.  Finally, exhausted, she succumbed to his pleas.  After the divorce, he changed his mind; but her craw was filled to overflowing with the drama and pain.  She felt that she could no longer continue the hurts of his mental illness; and divorce had been his choice. 

Because I’ve been intimately connected with this family for years, she called me.  Without any explanation, she read the messages and asked my opinion.  His funeral plans were included, a request for her to forgive him; and there was a short letter to their daughters.  As sad as the letters appeared, it seemed to us to be the ultimate act of selfishness, especially the letter to his daughters. 

Struggles in life aren’t unique or strange.  They are daily events.  Yesterday, my day was filled with concerns about my lost phone and especially the information contained on the phone.  A call to the phone company alleviated my worries about the data but I was still faced with replacement issues.

After our conversation, I hung up the phone and thought how fortunate I was to only have the burden of a lost phone.  My dear friend is faced with the possibility of a lost person to whom she is peculiarly attached.  As she said her good-byes to me, I heard in her voice a renewed strength.  The strain was gone.  She had formulated a plan of action.  The guilt had been erased. 

One of the things parents and even caregiver of children with disabilities face is the guilt.  Who’s to blame?  Did I cause the disability?  Could I have changed things somehow?  Is God punishing my child for something that I did?  Later, questions change.  Am I doing what is best for my child?  Will another therapy be more beneficial?

Self-examination is never a bad thing.  Keeping a clean slate before the King of King is essentially smart business.  Repentance and forgiveness should be part of our daily lives.  However, wrenching guilt is not part of the armor of God.  

When David faced Goliath, Saul wanted David to wear his armor, the armor of a king.  However, David quickly realized that Saul’s armor didn’t fit.  He was a shepherd.  God uniquely trained and gifted David with particular skills that fit him perfectly.  David used a sling shot and a smooth pebble from a creek bed as his weapons.  The skill set and weapons would not allow shields and body protection to be worn.  Using what God had given to him, David defeated the giant.

Defeating the giant of guilt and regret in our lives is a daily walk.  Each person must face this giant alone and with the skills that life has trained him to use.  Talking with my friend, I expressed my anger at the x-husband’s selfishness.  Perhaps this show of emotion was what released her from the guilt that she was feeling at that moment.  As we prayed, I asked God to forgive him and to change his heart and mind.

As we minister within the mentally challenged community part of the overflow of our ministry will be to parents.  You talk with them on phone.  You interact at bowling and the community events.  You sit with mothers and fathers as their children perform in plays and Special Olympics events.  Helping parents to use the unique armor with which God has equipped them to overcome guilt and despair is one way that we can help minister to their children.  David knew how to handle the giant situation.  He only needed to be released by the king to do the right thing.  Parents also have a good instinct regarding what is right for their children.  Parents also have the amazing ability to change their life’s belief and spin into the opposite direction, if they see they have been wrong in their philosophy.

Decisions that are made while strapped to another person’s armor can actually harm the results of those decisions.  A word, a look may be the thing God uses to release and enable parents to be delivered from guilt and activate their God-given skills in making wise decisions for their children.