Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Prodigal Mother Has Much to Learn

This weekend has been a powerful and healing one for me on many levels. I was blessed to be in the company of the wisest women I at a time, each offering their gifts to me through words, lasagna and email. As I look around me, I am literally bowled over by the wisdom God has placed in my life at this particular place and time. But even better is the love that accompanies the wisdom. It was actually so typically like God to do this, I am at a super low point and it is quietly arranged by the Spirit that I would receive renewal over and over again throughout a 3 day period, almost unceasing.

It humbles me and fills me with gratitude that any single one of these woman would care enough to offer their hearts and minds to me. That there are this many who are so steadfast in their support, so gifted in such different yet overlapping areas, and so willing to reach out and offer their precious time to me makes me realize I am one lucky lady to have such very special guardian angels. You all know who you are...and please know how much I love you back and look forward to the day when maybe, just maybe, I can offer you some of this love in return. I KNOW I can never offer the wisdom you have shared with me, for it would take centuries for me to catch up to any of you in that department.

As I prayerfully look towards a new week, knowing it will be filled with anxiety and joy as well, I am working very hard internally on myself to view things from a God place and not a Mom place. Our sermon this morning was another "Feeding Moment" and I walked away feeling as if God was telling me exactly how to proceed with our family. It might take awhile to really internalize and act on it in the midst of emotional turmoil, but I need to for it is the only way we will succeed.

Our sermon this morning was based upon our Scripture reading from Luke 15: 1-3, 11b-32. You all know the story, it's about the prodigal son. You can read Reverend Karen Winkel's entire sermon here if you so desire:

There were many ways in which I related to this sermon, could place myself in certain roles, etc. But there were a couple of things that stood out for me, to some perhaps in an odd way, but God works differently in each person's heart and we take away what we need at any given moment when hearing a sermon.

I quote here:

"If horses had gods, they would look like horses, so goes a Greek proverb. If horses had gods, they would look like horses.

Our sense of who God is and what God is like is shaped by what we know."

What a powerful reminder to me, that our daughters' image of "mom" is shaped by what they know. What they they have experienced the role of "mom" is quite perverted and unnatural. We need to build an entirely new concept of what "mom" is for them, and what took years to create might take years to recreate. They have had 2 different versions...biological and orphanage "replacement" mom's. Neither will serve them well in the context of a real family. While I will not demonize either image, for each served a purpose, neither version is accurate, neither prepares them to be mothered well, nor to mother well themselves in the future.

The big question is, how do we replace those old, misshapen images with a new, healthier one?

Another thought that came to my mind when hearing this was that our daughters have no sense of God, no relationship that we know of, and a real discomfort with God in general. Let's re-read this again:

"Our sense of who God is and what God is like is shaped by what we know."

I was slammed right between the eyes when I realized that Dominick and I, along with every single person in our LaJoy Family community, are responsible for creating a "knowing" of God for Angela and Olesya, for WE will be how they each encounter the living God. Their new understanding of God will be shaped by what they know, by what they encounter each and every time they interact with others who walk in God's light and love. Very powerful to think about.

Moving on, I quote again:

"When the important and influential people in our lives show us love, compassion, and generosity, the God of our imaging is likely one we’ll want to cozy up to and call upon.

But if these folks are punitive and capricious, if they withhold love and kindness, our God easily resembles them—only super-sized."

What a reinforcing statement. This is NOT about me being a mom and being accepted as such, this is about showing love, compassion and generosity so my daughters have an image of God to lean on. It is not really about them calling on ME, for one day I will not be there. I want them to be able to have the firmest foundation to stand on, one that will exist throughout their lifetime and never let them down as surely I will over and over again. But maybe, through our actions, they will begin to one day trust in a God that is far more solid than Dominick and I...even if we NEVER get to a place where they can fully "give it up" to us. However, I have a sneaking suspicion the two go hand in hand.

And yet more:

"Unlike most humans, the God in Jesus didn’t need people to be like him in order to love them. He didn’t need them to be presentable, to have their act together, to be anything other than they were. Jesus didn’t even need them to want to change. He simply loved people as-is and trusted that this love had the power to turn them around. Turn them toward God. Turn them toward new life."

If I truly want to "follow Jesus" in my own life, I need to listen carefully to this message. I need to love the girls as-is, and more importantly I need to trust that this love will have the power to turn them around...turn them toward God...turn them toward a new life. How much more clear could anything be to instruct me right now?

They don't have to have their act together for me to show love, they don't need to be anything other than what they are...including if they are rejecting of love at moments because that is the model they had before them in years past. If I can be successful at this during the most painful moments, we just might have a shot at helping them have a new life in all ways.

And still more stood out powerfully to me this morning:

"The father could easily have argued with his son about the folly of his request. He could have flown into a rage because of his son’s profound insult. He could have begged and pleaded, hoping to talk sense into his son. He could have let his feelings take the place of pure love.

Instead, the father trusted that the love he had for his son would see him through the worst of his son’s bad choices. And that this love would win."

The unspoken insult of rejection and perceived injuries I am receiving daily are not at all on the scale of the prodigal son's father, and yet they are real, they cause pain, and they are capable of having the power to alter the "pure love" that needs to be offered so that love can win. Anything less will be false and perhaps lead to a "false positive", an outward sense of completeness and in inward emptiness that will be hard to fill. I want the girls to have the fullness of love and life within them, I have to daily...hourly if necessary...fight the urge to offer anything less than pure love, I have to move past rage and anger when actions cut deeply. Because love has to win.

Then most profoundly there was:

"Love does not insist. It does not control. It does not micromanage. It does not threaten. Love sits by the window every night we’re away. It prays for us. It waits on us to change our minds. Love trusts its power to turn things around, even as there are no guarantees."

Wow..."It waits on us to change our minds." Wow. Wow. Yea, love does that, doesn't it?

"Love trusts its power to turn things around, even as there are no guarantees."

I am not living fully in that trust right now. I am ashamed of myself, and I apologize, God. You have shown me over and over again in grand ways how true that is, and yet here in the trenches I have given up that trust. Thanks for reminding me.

And my very favorite part:

"You know what happened. Living in hell, in the outer darkness of his horrible choices, a light finally went on in the son’s heart. He came to himself, scripture says."

"...a light finally went on in the son's heart." Oh how I want to see that light!! There is darkness there right now, there is a flicker of a flame in danger of being snuffed out.

As we begin a new week, may I carry this wisdom close to my heart. It seems at moment I am the Prodigal Mother, who has to learn lessons the hard way myself.


Anonymous said...

As you battle through your own feelings, sometimes feeling low and feeling despair, remember the girls will likely go through something similar. It's hard to not view their actions through the context of your own feelings. They probably have bouts of despondence and grief at their loss too. I'm glad all three of you have a strong family to support you.

Anonymous said...

It's so good to read that you are getting the support you need, Cindy. What a testimony to the faithfulness of God! I borrowed some of your quotes, as they spoke to me, also. And don't you forget for a minute that you aren't quite far along on the parenting journey. I read a lot of great, wise things on your blog while you were in Kaz! I remember thinking how wonderful and important it was that you knew many of the things you already knew about grief, bonding, adjustments, etc. I just know that in the midst of your own stress, tiredness, battle, that those things might seem like you never knew them or that you can't possibly remember and put them into practice.

Again, I'm reminded of Moses, who needed help to hold his arms up when he became weary but still wanted to follow and honor God and do what was right for the nation he was leading. Every one of us has needed that help along this journey. You've been an arm upholder yourself, even when you didn't realize whose arms you might be supporting at the time. Remember that you too are leading a small nation, as you do all the things moms do to keep their family trekking in the right direction.

I always wish I could tell you that the struggles will end soon, and that it will all feel cozy and warm very soon. You know I've shared that my daughter still struggles with letting me fully in sometimes, even after two years. But, as you know from your other adoption struggles with the boys, it gets better and better with time.

My daughter came to me and apologized for being rude to me sometimes...not a specific apology for a recent issue...but a more broad, thoughtful realization that she wants to improve our relationship. I was very encouraged! I think being with other families with similar issues this weekend, overhearing moms chatting, seeing old friends and how everyone was relating to their "new" families, realizing some have deeper struggles that she's maybe glad we don't have or have maybe moved passed because we're ahead of some others in time frame, caused her to think about some things. Me too. Our yearly wknd away with other Guatemalan adoptive families once again has proven to be a valuable way to spend some time.

Keep focusing on that hand reaching out from under the covers, beckoning you to hold tight. It's a picture of how badly I truly believe Angela wants you to hold tight, be patient, and not give up on one day being close. Your own great insight into her heart, yours, and the heart of God will go a very long way in healing and bonding you together as mother and daughter.

Nancy in the Midwest

Anonymous said...

"It humbles me and fills me with gratitude that any...hearts and minds to me."

This is a mutual relationship. You have given heart and mind to hundreds or thousands both in person and in your blog. Each of us gives from where we are and in giving are becoming who we are.

"I KNOW I can never offer..." You already are.


Carrie DeLille said...

So very much like God's pursuit of us....thanks for sharing.