Sunday, August 7, 2011

Mommy is not your friend...

I woke up this morning feeling burdened because I had to make a decision that would disappoint my teenage daughter.  I went through so many changes - I felt inadequate, burdened, lacking. I knew that in the scheme of things it was not that big, but for me in that moment it was huge; as it was for her.

Since I had tried so hard to make it happen, I decided to pray about it and ask God for direction. I felt like there was a message I was missing.  It can get a little bit tricky when you are the good parent, the bad parent, and all the parent most of the time. I felt God was telling me to share with my daughter my own disappointment in not being able to give her everything she wants, but also share with her how important it is for me to be able to give her everything she needs.

I went to church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the church building reminded me of being a child in service. The Sunday school lesson was led by a church mother with just enough spark under her fervor for the Lord to excite everybody about learning God's lesson: God has a ministry for each of us. Just after Sunday school, we found out one of the loyal church members sister, who the Pastor was set to visit after service in the hospice, had passed away.

After praying and consoling each other, we went into communion service, where the message from the Pastor was exactly what the Lord would have delivered to the people who had loved one who had passed on from labor to rest. How could the Pastor have known and planned this perfect sermon for today? She didn't, but God did. That message was that no matter what the situation looks like, this is not the end of the story.

That was in essence what I wanted to share with my daughter. I wanted to tell her that I was disappointed that I couldn't give her what she wanted. More than that, I was hurt that she would be hurt and sad. But it wasn't the end of the story. There would be more opportunities for her to experience joy in this lifetime, more chances for me to give her above and beyond what she had asked for or thought possible. This wasn't the end of the story.

However, even the best laid plans....

When I went to tell my daughter how sorry I was, she began to tell me how unfair it was...I expected this, because she is a teenager. Then, she began to tell me how her expectations were not met. She begin to talk of how this is what she always gets and it is what she should have and it is not right or fair that she doesn't have it.

While she was talking I thought about what lengths I was willing to go through to get for her what she wanted, even humbling myself to people who took pleasure in knowing how much it cost me to do so. And for this attitude of entitlement and ingratitude. God was showing me what I had to see about how far I was willing to go to appease an ungrateful child. I was out of order, and the words of an elder in Sunday school rung back through my heart. "Grandfather disciplined us with the word. He never lifted a finger. But he tore us up with the Word. These kids today don't get that." Woooah Nelly. Jesus take the reigns, because I am surely driving the wrong direction, right and now.

I am sure she could tell when I stopped speaking that something had gone clearly wrong in our conversation. I was in a different conversation with Jesus. I was asking Him to give me the words that would bring new life instead of scar beyond recognition the life that had already been put in my hands to shape and mold.

I took stock of the situation. My child is bible trained. She can quote scripture, but more than that, she comprehends the Word of God. I told my child that while she is still mine, in no way shape or form is she entitled to all of the accoutrements that she has experienced in her life thus far. I will not spare the rod to spoil you. "These amenities have come at the behest of my sweat and labor, and sometimes tears, and only because I want to give you the very best life has to offer when it is within my reach to do so.

However, the only expectation placed before me while you are in my care is that you maintain breath so that you can fulfill your purpose before these last days expire upon this earth. You, child, need to think before you speak. You need to use the mind that God has given you to think about the things that proceed out of your mouth, because the betray what is hidden in your heart, and then people know what kind of heart you have. What is in your heart?"

I looked at my child, little entitled self absorbed child that she is at this moment, and waited for anything. She said 'I want to sit here for a while'. I let her sit.

(Note: By this, her 13th year of life, she is accustomed to the fact that when I really need to get something out, the way I talk changes. I can't be bothered to break my thoughts down into simple words. I have to talk the way my brain thinks. This is probably why she had such a dangerous vocabulary by the time she was 7 years old.)

It is hard sometimes being a divorced parent. Some things I have to figure out on my own without any earthly help. But with God? I know this is but a brief moment and a teachable one for me and my daughter. We both found out some today.

On another note, before my little girl even got to her room to think about herself, her cousin was here to pick her up to go over another cousins house, and her grandmother had called for her. She wants her to call for a private conversation between "me and her". Yes, this is why she feels entitled right now. Jesus help. But in the midst of all this spoiling, there is a teachable moment. What is in your heart, child of God?

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