Three years ago, I met an angel.
Shortly prior to his arrival, God began whispering to my heart. He was revealing stories, magazine articles and television shows about service dogs for anxiety and placed them directly in my path. It was so insistent that I began thinking I had lost my mind!
At this point, we had been battling my son’s anxiety disorder for some time. My patience was wearing thin and it didn’t seem to matter what type of therapy or medication we tried, we could not get it under control. This darling four-year-old boy was paralyzed by his fear to the point that is was difficult to go to restaurants, parks or virtually anywhere with people. I was feeling defeated and didn’t know how to help him.
As a mother, being unable to help your child is one of the worst feelings you can encounter. Although I knew it was not my fault, I carried guilt that his childhood was plagued with fear instead of fun. I cried to God nightly asking for guidance in how to make my son’s days more manageable.
As I sat watching a news program, I was intrigued by a segment on service dogs for anxiety. It spoke of their ability to calm attacks and ease anxieties such that the person could experience everyday things with less terror. From here, the seed was planted. The next day, I received a text from a friend who is a school teacher and it contained the story they were reading in class that day – a story about a boy with a service dog.
My brain was going a million miles a minute wondering if I was really being led in this direction. Was God really encouraging me to look into service dogs for my son? My son who wouldn’t play in the backyard if the neighbors’ dogs were out or who would, quite literally, run for the hills if an animal approached him at the park. It seemed absurd and I was sure I had succumbed to the pressures of my life and officially lost my mind.
I remember bringing the idea up to my best friend with the disclaimer that she had every right to tell me I was crazy. I remember her face as she mulled over the idea and then agreed that it may not be so crazy after all. I remember the panic in my chest as my husband and I made the decision to look into this unconventional option. I remember being terrified.
God placed this idea on my heart and he was ensuring that I could not walk away from it. I could have tried, but the reality was He continued to put it in my path, He continued to gather an army to support me and He continued to wait for me to finally say yes, even if I was scared.
You see, God doesn’t call us to easy, He calls us to obedience.
And He rewards obedience.
Here I sit, three years later looking at the ninety pound golden lab snoring at my feet, thanking God for his persistence. Jake, our angel, joined our family a mere two months after I had the conversation with my best friend. Only by God’s hand did we avoid the incredible waiting period for a service animal and only by God’s design did Jake fit perfectly with our family.
The first night that Jake came to our home, it was less than two hours before my son was laying, head on Jake’s stomach, contentedly watching a movie. My son, who had only ever gotten close enough to touch one dog was connected to this new member of our family.
God is great, ya’ll!
Since that day, we have been blessed to see huge strides in my son’s anxiety. He is able to better regulate and he has a code word that alerts Jake if he’s feeling overwhelmed. Last spring, we made it to Disney World and when I watched my son and Jake walk through the gates of the happiest place on earth, I cried. Prior to Jake, I had accepted that Disney World would simply never be one of our childhood memories. I knew the sights, the sounds, the costumes and the people would all be far too much to handle. God proved me wrong.
Jake has changed our lives as a family, but more, he has opened doors for my son that were previously locked tight with fear. Jake has allowed him to feel confident and in control of who he is. Jake has put the light back in my son’s eyes and the joy back in his soul. Jake is our angel.
God does not call us to easy, He calls us to obedience. Even when you think you’ve lost your mind, listen to that tug on your heart – maybe God has an angel for you, too!