She’d had a rough morning at home. Once again, she was not being heard. Her opinion, regardless of whether it was valid or not, was drowned out so that other points could be made. She sighed in frustration and held back tears, knowing the futility of protesting.
I watched her, and although I knew she was wrong, I knew she just wanted the opportunity to say exactly how she was feeling even if it made no logical sense. As her mom, my heart ached for her, and as her mom, I wanted her to see her part in the conflict that had exploded all over our home. But it was getting late, and she had to get to school.
I did my best to be both effective and efficient at soothing her bruised ego while also imparting words of wisdom, but it fell flat. She was done, utterly so. I followed up with a heartfelt, “I love you,” to which she reciprocated verbally before slamming the door behind her. I restrained myself from snatching it open and giving her a piece of my mind, opting instead to let it go, knowing that the releasing of steam was necessary.
I’d decided to surprise my son by showing up to the school Mass to see him play the drums. I sat next to my husband, half listening to whatever scripture was being read and half checking my texts to make sure the rails weren’t falling off at work, when I heard her voice on the microphone.
“What in the world?” I thought to myself, dropping my phone into my purse. It had only been about 15 minutes since she had stormed out of the house, and there she was poised, dignified, and leading a portion of the school Mass. She stepped down, back straight and head held high, and sashayed in her way, the way people swear is unnatural, but the way I know is all her because she’s walked like that since she could steady herself enough to refuse my helping hand and do it all by herself. I watched my child, my sensitive, headstrong, and all around amazing girl, circle the sanctuary to take her place on the other side near the organ with the rest of the choir.
“God has placed so much shine on her!” I whispered in awe to myself.
Seeing my daughter shake off the drama of the morning to get the job done made me so proud. I know that I am not raising robots, but success in life and for the kingdom of God requires self-control and emotional maturity, even when what you want most is to throw a tantrum, scream at the top of your lungs, and dig your heels in. There is a time and a place to dump and vent, and sometimes, we have to compartmentalize emotions, packing them away for a moment, to make it through the assignment.
No doubt, she remembered the commitment she had made, and regardless of how she felt, she would honor it. That mattered to her. And as her mom, it mattered to me that it mattered to her.
Lately, though, I suspect her peers have started to see the favor God has for her. They don’t see stacks of books she’s devoured and tossed once completed into the cavern of clutter on her bedroom floor. They don’t hear the podcasts and audio books she consumes. They definitely don’t know about the deep ruminating and poignant questions she floats to any adult who dares to ask what she’s thinking about or what has she read lately. But they see that shine, nonetheless, and it is hard for them.
We raise our children not to give to the world as the world gives to them. We raise them to be kinder, more generous, and more patient than they are treated. We remind them that they are love others as themselves while also remembering that they are no one’s doormat. But some days that is hard, especially when you start to perceive the tactics and lengths Satan will go to distract you or bait you into sin.
“Come on! Do something then!” her former friend goads.
“I’m not trying to fight you,” she responds, turning to walk away.
“You don’t want none of this action, huh?”
“You’re absolutely right. I don’t.”
I listen to the story and know exactly what’s happening. I’ve been there. But I also know that spiritually, in the war behind the scenes, Satan is trying to take down as many of God’s chosen as he can. I listen, trying to ascertain how much of what I have been teaching her is strong in her character and perception of self, what I need to reinforce, and what has been lost all together. I hear words that prove a solid foundation, and I decide to fortify just in case there is a bravado on display for my benefit.
“The world will make you think that walking away is the cowardly thing, but it is actually the bravest thing, the hardest thing, the thing that delights God most.” I see the hurt she feels. I know how hard she has tried to salvage a friendship that is not good for her. I perceive her understanding that she has to move on, even if the masses have joined forces against her.
“It will always be like this, Sweetie,” I allow the truth to hit her before reaching out to comfort her. “There are miserable people who want others to be just as miserable as they are. There are negative people who want to spread that negativity to others instead of being grateful for what they have and working hard for what they want. It’s easier to be mean and catty than it is to be compassionate and supportive.”
“I just don’t think she was ever my real friend, Mom.” I try not to break out into a celebratory dance at this revelation. “I’m fine just doing my own thing. I’m fine just being me.”
“I’m glad because you are awesome!”
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.” (Galatians 5: 22-23, NKJV)