chapter 7 of Ann's book, for the second time. Fresh in my heart.
Tonight, I sat at the kitchen table, boys at youth, Olivia sitting close....me typing an email. She starts telling her story. Her brother. His "friend". Words and actions over heard and interpreted at the playground.
I'm typing. At first I do not realize I am on holy ground, unwrapping a gift from God. His presence is there.
Unthinking, that a half-thought comment can tuck it all away. Sure she must have misunderstood, jumped to conclusions.
She senses this. My desire to tuck the hard things away and move on. Tears roll down her cheeks leaving shiny brown trails. She wants to go back to Ethiopia. She wants to not go to her same school next year.
I say unkindness is everywhere. It would not help. She silently cries. She thinks I do not care. I show I do not care well. (I care. I do not show I care well.)
I stop... ask deeper. She brushes me off. .
Easy way..normal way....is to stop here. Quit trying. Its too hard. She doesn't want to talk. I tried.
But I can't. This is my daughter. This is her life. My life. We cannot stop here. Hopeless. Hurt. Misunderstood. I ask a couple questions... defensive answers.
I tell her how I see her, how God sees her, beautiful. smart. full of plans and hope.
I tell her there are unkind people anywhere. I share a couple of my stories. I have walked pain like hers.
I tell her how I want to help her see who she is...so that any unkindness in the future, she will not let go of who she is. Who God is. His plans.
She retells the story. More details. Her assumptions. I listen. I doubt, but I listen. Even brothers are sinners, and I feel anger rise up. Anger if it is true. I fumble through encouraging. Not willing to give up. Planning to solve (correct) the brother error, but still wanting to help her navigate through hurt. And I feel Anger. Tension. Ineffective. yet... its changing. something is happening.
and I think ..pray.
I ask her if I can pray for her. Half-hearted acceptance. I pray.
I remind her of the things said about her when she was at the orphanage. The good she did. How smart she is. The beauty other's see. She smiles and shares stories.
I ask her who does she know here who could be in Ethiopia tomorrow, and be sat in a classroom and succeed having to read, write, speak and understand Amharic and only eat Ethiopian food. Who?
She smiles and says no one.
She brings me a book of old nursery rhymes. We read and laugh over the pictures. We read another book. And another.
She goes into her room, ready for bed. Lighter.
Brother comes...my anger too warm under the surface. I accusingly ask. He defends. I slow down. Loving this one too and ask again. He tells the whole story.
What she heard as her name, was a friends joke about Obama. When she heard a friend make fun of her accent and what she thought was her brother agreeing, joking. Her brother was actually defending her. I can tell he is sincere, truthful. (Their relationship had grown so much in the past months, I was so hoping the assumptions were not true.)
A misunderstanding that her brother would be involved in hurting her.
I went into her room and shared with her all he had said. Said his exact words, on both accounts. She smiled. Heart lifted. Her brother had defended her. Joy crept in. She made silly with her sister. Hugs to bed.
I walked away and thought: Thank you for the gift of this.
Hard, ugly eucharisteo. Stumbling... I found the gift even in this....
Her wounded heart sharing. Her brother faithful. Open discussion on who she is in God, how she is truly. How to handle unkindness. Prayer.. A gift from God, at first unrecognized. (unwanted)
I also thought of what I had heard last week. "Prayer is the first act of war". (Beth Moore). When my child is wounded and I need to make war with the enemy (not flesh and blood)....prayer is my first move. And I stumbled into it. Not willing to give up on her tear-stained face.
And I see Ann's words in action. "But the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is."
He is even in this.
I am behind in the 1000 gifts read-along, but you can read at your own pace..and see the videos here. (Chapter 7)
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