Last night I said words to my children I never thought I'd say. And I think, in the process, I fell off my pedestal.
Years ago, in a way-too-common scenario for this world, I lost my beloved church. My home church. A new pastor, new staff, and disagreements that couldn't, or wouldn't, be fixed drove my family and dozens more away.
I loved the church, I loved the people, and almost everything I did in my life was for, or because of, that church.
I grieved for a very long time. Few deaths could have been worse than the loss I felt then.
I think I did okay in how I managed to compose myself and keep my mouth shut. I did say some things my children should not have heard and contributed to the pain of others in ways I shouldn't have, but for the most part I managed to be good and remembered to love. I don't think they were ashamed.
Just a few years before that I lost my best friend. She and I were inseparable, you could compare us to giddy schoolgirls. But she divorced and went through terrible pain at the same time I was going through the physical illness of a difficult pregnancy and then she fell in love and was missing in action. She needed me and I wasn't there. I needed her and she wasn't there. It's strange. We had shared so much pain together but could not manage to survive this. She moved only half an hour away and all those years ended - just like that. Really, it was like the blink of an eye.
There were no harsh words and I still feel only the greatest of love for her, but I did go through pain and a feeling of abandonment. And since then my children have seen me shy away from close friendships and harbor the knowledge that women hurt women. But you do what you do and just keep putting one foot in front of the other and move on.
So, in my life when I've gone through pain, I have tried to let my children see good in me. I've tried to say and do the right thing and recognize the teachable moments that come from suffering and hardship. And I fail often, because they know me well, very well. But I do try.
One of the advantages of homeschooling is that you know your children. They can't manage to hide much. But on the flipside they know you. I can't manage to hide much. But usually I'm okay with what I say and do, and with age it gets easier to look for the reasons behind people's actions - and easier to forgive.
But now there was last night. And a pain from months ago that has not gone away struck hard and I broke and shattered and fell hard and told my children that I did not care about doing the right thing. I said I did not care about the hurt anyone else was going through. I said I only cared about myself and how I felt. I said I was helpless to make this situation better and I was finished trying. I told my children that it was time that I and all the people that love me think about me and only me. I do not care to think about what is kind or what is right. I only care to think about the hurt I have felt and what I have loss due to it. I cried until my face was swollen and shouted until my throat was sore and my head hurt.
I received a text from my child gratefully missing all this and read the problem she was having away at camp and I texted back exactly the opposite of what I would have told her to do just earlier in the same day.
I said and did those things. I really did.
And I fell off the pedestal that I've always teetered on but managed to stay on.
So I lie in bed last night and wonder if one can destroy in one night all they have tried to be and teach for decades? Can a moment of pain that causes utter selfishness break a person? And I didn't even pray to feel better this morning.
And I don't - feel better. I feel tired. And a little lost.
And grace falls like rain.
God has blessed me way beyond my worth and given me a best friend again. And I have done to her what I have done way too many times to her in the past - talked too much and listened too little.
So even while losing my battle last night I still managed to remember that my baby girl is in a bad spot and struggling with loyalty and my friend needs me right now - not the other way around - and I recognized old friends inside myself - concern, empathy, love.
And I like that Rie better than I like this one. This one today that feels beat up from a lost battle.
And to my darlins' I would say this - I'm sorry you saw the ugly person your mama can be. What was there before Jesus got ahold of me and somehow always finds its way back out when I forget or don't care about the greatest commandment of all. Thanks for treating me with love and grace.
Don't be a doormat. Stand up for yourself and stand your ground. But don't forget to love - especially your enemies. And when you do forget or just plain choose hate, because you will, do whatever you have to do to find your way back. Fight and claw the old and get back to the new creation.
It's really the only good place to be. Love, Mama