[Continuing from Wednesday’s post …]
Moments of insecurity reveal my street-raised daughter to have a bark louder than her bite. As we learn Him, He teaches us about her and it’s here that we’re finding her gentleness.
Months ago, we started praying into her the opposite of what we were perceiving from her behavior. We weren’t looking to directly oppose what we saw, but as we asked Him for understanding into her heart, we realized that much of the whirlwind around her was borne from inertia. She had a dormant beauty that never had reason to surface.
And I’ve had too many years taking gulps of worst-case scenario expectations, lived-out. This time, I would try His perspective, first. We prayed it, said it, spoke it over her, and to her. And to ourselves. He was bringing forth beauty, refinement, gentleness. All the things one might say she wasn’t is what we believed He was saying she is.
And His Word speaks a better way.
One particular morning, Eden crawled into my lap and confessed yet another grievance. Hope was “hurting her heart.” It was not a surprise; I’d witnessed some of what she was referencing.
We talked it out. God was clearly using this to develop compassion in Eden’s heart for the broken. As we wrapped up our conversation I said, “Let’s pray and ask God how He sees Hope. Let’s ask Him to give us His eyes for her.”
We prayed, waited, listened.
Eden broke the silence: “Elegant. The word ‘elegant’ came to me, Mommy.” Though tucked away in a book we’d read months ago, it’s not a part of our everyday vocabulary. He spoke through the mouth of a six year-old babe to confirm the course we’d charted in prayer. He was making Hope new and even telling her siblings about it. Beauty initiated by Him, before our naked eyes could see it.
And He is doing it, friends. Under our roof is a greenhouse. It’s messy at times, this workroom of ours, but I can’t ignore the growth. Dirt giving birth to life. New shoots are everywhere and before long it’ll be spring.
I’ve heard from many of you whose stories take on a different shape, but the plight is the same. We share the scars of motherhood, both for children who have been adopted, and those home-grown. You’ve cultivated the dirt and are waiting for spring. You have a Hope in your home and your heart sits, tentative about how to respond. As you wait on her — that “her” for you — might I humbly share some of His counsel to me:
Talk about her beauty, even behind closed-doors. Make it a part of your vernacular. “I can’t say that,” Nate replied to my bleak assessment of the situation, one day. He saw the end, where I was taking stock of the beginning. Nate has been the gatekeeper of our language. I need this.
What we declare — out of fear — in private becomes much easier to believe in her presence. To be her advocate, even closed-door conversations need to come back to the beauty He is bringing forth. To be her advocate, our understanding of her future must be rooted in the promises of His Word. There is no true advocacy apart from Him.
And the power of life and death lies in the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21)
Pray up and in. Adoration was the tool He gave me, early, for this task. To tear down the walls of lies around her heart and life (maybe even spoken over her before her birth) you must first erect Truth in your own life. Battling this blind, is not knowing who He is over your life and your family.
The only perspective that will stand, is His perspective.
Pray His Word back to Him, say His Word back to Him, paste it over your life. And as it takes root in your heart, which it will — because it’s alive — you’ll find it easier to pray it into her.
His Word will be her reality if you just open the door. Morning, noon, and night. It’s waiting. He’s ready-available to re-write your understanding.
Ask Him how He sees her. All day long you will be tempted to be the thermometer on her life. Her behavior has calcified how she sees herself and the enemy is hot on your trail to make you believe the same. In your pain, do not indulge your fear. Much of what you “feel” may actually be in direct opposition to what His Word says is true.
There is no better time than now to sit cross-legged in front of your fireplace, with moleskin journal in hand and a perspective ready to be molded, and ask Him the question that will unlock her heart: Father, how do you see her? Be prepared to take note … with your life.
Tell her who she is and set up memorials around when she walks it out. Behind ten of Hope’s missteps is one heart-move towards beauty. We celebrate the one. When it comes, we acknowledge it, that night we recall it, the next morning we lift it up as the first step in a pattern that will come. “Hope, remember how you cleared Caleb’s plate for him yesterday? That was awesome! Are you ready to do that again today? Let’s ask Jesus to show you more opportunities to love your siblings well today.”
It’s likely she lives covered under a blanket of shame — she’s been telling herself or hearing others remind her what a problem she is. You get to be Jesus’ eyes and search below the dirt for early signs of growth.
Don’t be afraid to respond to and discipline for the ten. ”He disciplines those He loves.” (Hebrews 12:6). Teaching this kind of love — His kind of love — is not pretending there isn’t a chasm of sin to cross or fantasizing a person into reality. Love stares deep into dark and through dark to find beauty. She needs to know you know her dark, and that it will not stand, in order to trust you when you tell her you see beauty. Isn’t that so with us and the Lord?
She needs to know and expect your loving-but-firm response to her sin, as she’s desperate for another’s guardrails on her life. Kids long for guardrails — unchanging guardrails, the same ones yesterday as there will be tomorrow. Children were never intended by Him to control their surroundings.
Be consistently consistent, it’s her safety.
Treat her like the daughter she is, not the orphan she was is the motto in our home.
When her behavior makes you want to retreat, take that as your cue to engage. Restoration love isn’t threatened by sin, it’s activated. When you take a step towards pouring out what you don’t have, He pours in. Give her the love your flesh can’t conjure. Give her the love that requires His overshadowing. He will surprise you, I promise.
Press in. These days are not her days to grow if they aren’t, first, your days to grow. It isn’t “when you get through this” that you’ll find Him. Now is your greatest opportunity to thrive.
These incidents are not accidents and the heart-pain they reveal in you is bigger than your circumstances. As He heals her orphan heart, He is healing yours too. Both are on His radar.
Slow down. Pour out to Him; He can handle your chest-heaving cries. And receive. He has gold for you in this season. And that gold is a greater depth of communion with Him.
And, finally, tell the story. His story. His final word is never doubt, despair or destruction. The testimony of Jesus is being written on your watch. Speak it out as such. When you get the look of pity from a friend who doesn’t quite understand your pain, tell her you are blessed, because you are.
Mamas, these are not your worst days, these days are fodder for a work that will leave you forever changed.
Perspective is everything.
And we get to turn in our frail human constructs of God for His. This is the best of times.
Second photo compliments of Lucy O’ Photo.
Sara is a wife to Nate and a mother of four (and one on the way) whose birth canal bridged the expanse between the United States and Africa. After almost a decade of Christian life she was introduced to pain and perplexity and, ultimately, intimacy with Jesus. God met her and moved her when life stopped working. And out of the overflow of this perplexity, came her writing.You can read more of her writing at Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet.