Love. The ultimate four-letter-word.
When we’ve lived long enough (as in, long enough to interact with another human), love has this bittersweetness to it. This “I crave it. I need it. And giving it may just be the end of me” feeling.
Recently my daughter got in the car after school, aimed her mental pain at me, and fired. Just before it shredded my heart, an invisible wall went up. The one I put there so her pain doesn’t swallow me whole. The one I allow to stay so I can live mostly-whole for the rest of those I love.
Except that I’m not whole. Not right now. Since she moved home this spring, my own child (or, more specifically, her pain) has been my abuser. I love her, consequence negative behavior, parent consistently, follow the therapeutic plan, hire a trained caregiver to help me run this home, try to keep things light… and spend the rest of the time maintaining my wall.
This wall around my heart.
I tell myself it’s only with her, but how can a wall be semi-permeable?
How can a wall keep out the pain from one person and allow the free flow of love with another?
Friends, I don’t think it can. Maybe that’s why, after I tuck the kids in bed, I look down the hall at my husband, turn the corner, walk downstairs, and grab a book or turn on a movie. I want to engage him, but I can’t.
I don’t know how to get around my wall, except by breaking it down. And if I break it for him, I’m not sure it will be back in tact for the morning when she is awake and the pain comes back.
You want to know what’s even more painful? I’ve coached so many parents worldwide with their challenging relationships, challenging kids, and they are thriving. They use what we work on and relationships heal and walls come down and lives move forward.
My heart leaps from behind my wall, cheering for these dear ones as they see redemption and joy crash through the walls in their lives.
And I layer a few quiet bricks on the wall around my own heart. Peeking over it, silent eyes ask God, “Why does it work for everyone else but me… or her?”
I sink down, back against the brick, deeper in to the grief. A voice speaks. Not from the other side of the wall, but quiet, next to me. He says, “We’re in this together.” Tears fall. He holds me tighter. More tears. He whispers, “If I created the materials that form that brick, can’t I make them life-giving too?”
Eyes look up. I see His face. I know. I know. I really know: He’s right.
I have no idea how I can be safe while raising my foster/adopted child who lashes at me with her hurt and somehow let love flow freely to her, my husband, God, others. I don’t know how this wall around my heart will fall, or when. Maybe, with her, it will be more of a one-directional mirror. Love out, hurt bounces off. (Is that even possible for a human heart??)
It must be. Because someone else has done it.
“He loved people who ignored Him. He interacted with betrayers. He offered grace to those who violated His laws. He dignified outcasts. He engaged Himself in the very world that put Him to death. Jesus is our example of openhearted living.” – Mary DeMuth, The Wall Around Your Heart
I don’t know how it will work. I don’t know what “working” will look like.
All I know is that I need to spend some time away from blogging here to do a little private blogging with the One who, we’re assured, is also “acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Right now, I’m doing that along with reading Mary’s new book, which, if you’re facing fresh—or even stale, bothersome, why-won’t-this-just-heal?—grief, you might want to grab here—>The Wall Around Your Heart: How Jesus Heals You When Others Hurt You.
So you won’t see another post here for a month or two. While I’m away, I would dearly appreciate your prayers—for me, for my family, for our struggling girl, and for the book God’s got me writing, due Dec 15th, that’s about how in heck we can live joy as a parent of a child with special needs. I know that in this broken place, God will do big things for all of us in painful situations as parents. Right now I’m unsure how… but that’s where miracles are born, no?
Thank you for being here. For reading, sharing your hearts. Looking forward to connecting here again soon.
With much love,