It’s okay to say enough is enough and not be shamed out of it to make it “easier” for others. John 5:1-14
I was talking to myself. I was standing for my Honey. I was reaching for the other scapegoat people who are my friends on fb and hoping He would use my words to encourage others struggling like I was this morning.
Standing up against something you’ve allowed for years or even decades is much harder than having boundaries from the beginning. That’s very easy to say… Living it is a whole other enchilada! Just being a woman, of my generation and before that, a girl, makes it an uphill battle to be strong, confident, to take care of your needs (sometimes before others, heaven forbid!). We’re considered pushy bitches by society, by and large, for being emotionally healthy and for having boundaries.
I think as each generation has evolved, we’ve become more healthy in this way. I don’t think we’re anywhere near our destination, yet, but we’ve come a long way, Baby! The irony to me is that my experience has been that the people who typically throw roadblocks in my path are women who struggle with the same things as I do. I’m not sure if it’s human nature to want to hold others back because we feel failure by not “keeping up with” our friends, or if this is just ingrained in us to play the martyr and encourage other women to do the same.
My daughter would probably tell you I have a bipolar personality when it comes to what I’ve taught her about being an emotionally healthy woman. I think I’ve taught her to be sacrificial with others, setting an example of a martyr in many of my friendships and family relationships, while encouraging her to take care of herself, stand up for her needs and her heart and to have healthy boundaries with others. Truth be told, I’ve talked a bunch more about the better way than I’ve lived it, but she’s much stronger than I am. She’s SO MUCH MORE wise and confident than her mama ever was at 21… or 31…
I think it’s a hard place to be when you’re a girl my age – somewhere between sweeping it all under the rug, stuffing it all down deep with a smile on your face and poison in your heart, just happy that everyone is “getting along” and putting it all out there, take me as I am or take a hike. Big sister shaming us. Little sister disappointed in us. Floundering, disenfranchised… Blossoming awkwardly, unable to stay in purgatory any longer, wanting to be reborn.
I’m still lost much of the time and I’m working so hard to be in His will, but sometimes I hear other voices that come from places with human agendas louder than I hear His. It isn’t their fault, it’s mine, it’s my weakness that loses focus and forgets I am not a Christian church lady of my generation. I am a woman of God. I am His daughter. He didn’t give me a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7) My goal is to encourage this and nurture this in my sisters. My prayer is that others will do this for me… He gave this spirit to all of us. If we could embrace the truth of that and live in it, the spiritual, relational possibilities are endless. It scares the bejeebies out of me, in a good way, kinda like an awesome upside down, bare-feet dangling, loop-de-loop rollercoaster. The old way scares me in an awful way, kinda like I’m sitting in the back seat of a car with a sad smile on my face going nowhere or over a cliff and not really caring either way because no one really knows me and I know no one…
Last Christmas our son and daughter-in-love gave us the most beautiful painting. We hung it on our kitchen wall with lovey-tears in our eyes. We had just painted the walls apple green and we couldn’t believe how well the painting coordinated with our new color scheme! I’m sure you’ve seen this painting before, perhaps in another medium, facebook, pinterest, or some other location. It says, “In this house we do second chances. We do Grace. We do Real. We do mistakes. We do I’m sorrys. We do hugs. We do FAMILY. We do LOVE.”
That all sounds so very lovely. I think because I, like most people, envision the happy ending part: the making up, the forgiveness, the grace. We ignore that in order for these things to be needed, there must first be an offense – sometimes a HUGE offense or two. Sometimes, because I’m this way, I want to “fix” things right away instead of allowing people to work through their stuff. I just want to get to the good part and have peace between the people I love.
I was confronted with this “unattractive” part of myself a few years ago in one of my children’s counseling sessions. The one where mom is called in and has to look at her own junk in front of another adult who has heard all of the family secrets from her teenage daughter. It was not easy to hear. The truth about ourselves seldom is… I tried to explain that I just want everyone to be happy and understand each other. I told them that I did this because I love them so very much. Then I went home, knowing I had to join my child the following week for another hour of hell, and I decided to take it to Him. I asked Him at first to please just open their hearts so that they could see my heart and understand why I did what I did and why it was a good thing. I wrestled with the humiliation of being seen as less than a loving, devoted mama…
and then, somehow, I truly heard my child’s heart and I realized that although part of what I said was true, another part of my motivation was to sweep things under the rug, so it all looked pretty on the surface and then I didn’t really have to deal with anymore ugliness. I was afraid if we let things get out of hand, things would be said or done that might not ever be gotten over and then I might lose someone or they might lose each other or … I don’t know what else, just something not good.
So, for the past few years I’ve tried to keep my mouth shut more and let things get worked through by the people directly involved. It’s been a struggle for our family to shift. Sometimes my kids get really upset with me for not doing anything when there’s strife between them. They think I don’t care like I used to. I have to admit, in order for me to become healthier in this area, I’ve had to “check out” a bit at times because it goes against everything in my controlling little body to allow the chips to fall where they may when it comes to my precious family members and their relationships. – Don’t think I’m not aware of how ridiculous this all sounds. Like my husband sometimes tells me, “Gee, Honey, I don’t know how I ever got along for the 24 years before I met you…”
There are still times when I feel the need to interject my motherly wisdom in the middle of a conversation that simply isn’t mine. My children usually catch themselves in the heat of the moment and lovingly remind me that I need to step out of the conversation – sometimes they just let me have it and later we talk about it. They extend grace to me while I grow in this area most of the time.
We are all pretty good communicators. Sometimes our quick wits, sarcasm and tempers get the best of us… too often, honestly, but that’s why we “do” second chances, forgiveness, and a whole load of other necessary stuff.
Sometimes I simply don’t know what’s best. I don’t know when I should step in and when I should stay out. I’m not sure when I’ve given my children enough time, when I’m being a pest or when I’ve waited too long and made them feel uncared for. This adult children thing just makes all of this even more complicated. I don’t have the reassurance that they’ll always want a relationship with me and/or their father. We can’t just send them to their rooms or take away their television time anymore! Spouses can be a big game changer. I’ve seen families be completely devastated because a new wife or husband joined the family and then turned away from the in-laws with his/her spouse in tow. I’ve seen this happen in families that seemed rock solid in love and grace.
My own children have been out in the “real” world for a bit now and their belief systems have changed some. They don’t blindly believe all that I do or all that their father does. They are growing up and forming their own opinions. I’m not gonna lie. This is not easy, especially for an opinionated mama such as myself. Part of parenting someone is imparting the lessons you’ve learned, the wisdom you’ve earned. Am I right?! It’s a real “bring you to your knees humbling” when your children suddenly think some of the near and dear to your mama’s heart beliefs and morals are silly or unimportant.
I’ve vacillated between feeling enraged to laughing at the rejection of these beliefs. I’ve reacted in ways that I am not proud of and cringe at because I was the child being treated the same way once upon a time by an enraged parent and I simply can’t believe I’ve done just what I said I never would. There are second chances…
So, I know that rage and rejection are absolutely not the reaction I should have as my children find their own way, and that is HUGE… But, I’m still not always sure what the “right” reaction is. Of course, it isn’t always the same, but there should be a ballpark area that is full of unconditional love and sprinkled with respectful disagreement – on both sides… I’m still trying to find that place on occasion. The ironic part of this is that 100% of the time, when I keep the lines of communication open with my children and/or my hubby, and I push that narrative in my head voice the heck out-of-the-way (because that voice is rarely coming from a healthy place and so it isn’t usually helpful), I am able to hear my precious children’s hearts and remember just who each of them truly is and my heart gets to the place it needs to be to let them grow just the way He intended them to grow. When I move my agenda, that is very often steeped in fear, aside and trust Him and His plan, He gives me peace. I am reminded that we all go down the wrong path sometimes, sometimes (often) I am wrong about what the right path is, and finally, He reminds me that I have loved my children well, with all that I had and all that I knew in each moment – not worldly perfect, but as perfectly as He wanted me to and that is simply enough. When we go through the moments before “doing” grace, forgiveness, hugs, etc. and we are doing mistakes… I am thankful to be able to rest in His truths and His hope that one day we will again be doing family and love.
As usual, in this house, I’m doing REAL...