My first born child came home from California to visit for Christmas. There was excitement and a touch of reluctance. She is my strong willed child. This beautiful woman speaks her mind. Which can, at times, be difficult to embrace. And she often comes across as harsh.
There was so much going on and so little time while she was home. Everyone seemed out of sorts. The two youngest went about their lives. Neither one of them realizing that this was making their sister feel rejected. The tension grew. As she longed to feel welcomed in her home she felt nothing but rejection. I was too busy in my own head with wrapping and doing the non-important things that I neglected to search her heart. My husband also, by his actions, made it seem that he wasn't happy with her being home. My heart became heavy and my thoughts and prayers seemed to exhaust me. I felt myself in that tug-o-war. Stuck in the middle trying to defend all parties. Prayer and sitting at my Lord's feet seemed to be the only place I felt solitude.
Two nights ago my first born sat on the sofa with me to watch a movie. Well, that was the intent. But, a long overdue reality conversation took place instead. She told me that she spent the afternoon with her Grandmom. She began to tell me that during their time together her Gmom said some harsh things. I tried to defend (tug-o-war) my mom by saying, "It's only because she loves you. She just wants you to be the best you". We continued to talk. I told her that I prayed for her to soften and that she would be less outspoken. Well, this was not received the way I had hoped. After a few minutes the conversation softened. She began to share with me what was going on in her head and heart. Just like we were anxious about her coming home, she felt very insecure. She braced herself for her visit. Expectations were high. And we all failed to meet each others suppositions. Our expectations were that Kath would be a little different because of her 10 months of living in California. And her expectations were that we were all going to embrace her when she was home. Instead we all settled in to our own very selfish, self centered ways. She told me that she felt unwanted and rejected by my husband, her step-dad. And that it was very evident that he doesn't care for her. She explained that she knew she was disrespectful in the way she talked to him. And that she was sorry. But was hurt by his rejection and how obvious it was that he didn't want her around. My heart sank. I felt broken. She was hurt that her siblings made plans with friends. She wished she had more time to spend with her 16 month old niece but there were tons of road blocks. Then the biggest punch was that she wanted to go back to California where she felt more loved and embraced by strangers. We failed her. I failed her. How do we manage to do so much damage to the ones we love? And how does one fix this? She is leaving tomorrow. And I am certain that she feels relieved.
Now is the moment of "What have I done?" and I am wishing there was a "rewind" button. But, my family is so dysfunctional, we might make a bigger mess of the "do-over". So, all I can do now is make the best of the little time we have left before she goes back to California. And reflect on what makes her such a blessing in my life. She is honest and wears her heart on her sleeve. She has been hurt, rejected and let down by so many people in her short lifetime. She still hasn't been quite capable of digesting it all. It appears that there is so much negativity around her that it is difficult to see the positive. With that being said I want to shed some light on this beautiful, bold, outspoken, firstborn child of mine. She will be the first to defend, support and mend her family even when they are the first to break her. She will tell you the truth even when it would be more appealing to your ears if she lied. She is the most misunderstood of all the kids. What one hears as harsh words she truly meant to sound like love. She cries out in a different way too. We hear disrespect, judgment, and bitterness. When what she is really trying to get across is......I need you to love me, like me and embrace me. I am not a perfect mom. But, I am blessed to call myself Kath's mom. She is always so forgiving of her family. I know she is going to look back on this and grow. I am hopeful that she will remember the loving family moments like singing in the car, buying Santa breakfast, Sunday dinners, cold air, board games, Duane's search for lipstick, Grace's smile, snow flakes, footie pajamas (that she really didn't like but wore because I bought them) and quiet moments on the sofa.
Praying that God will give me eyes to see what a precious gift Kath is and always will be in my life. I pray, whatever adventure He holds for the future, that He would remind us that every tomorrow is a gift to make right the wrongs of yesterday.
"Pick up the pieces let's see what's been broken. What's become of us? How do we manage to do so much damage to the ones we love......When we care so much?
When we fail love it's hard to take. The expectations are so great. We raise our hopes. We dream our dreams. And then we do some foolish thing. But love that comes easy will easily give up. When we fail love we've got to trust the love that won't fail us.
I can't swim the ocean that's growing between us. The shores are too far apart. So sail to the spot where the water is deepest. Where we have to face this storm with faith."~ Grover Levy