teens

All posts tagged teens

You Might Be a Bad Mom If …

Published June 16, 2017 by Dawn

I’m probably not a very good mom. Yesterday, my son reflected on himself while getting ready for bed and said to me, “I should probably stop lying. You would probably like me more.”

What was I to say to that? The truth is, his lying is a HUGE deal to me.

  • Number one: lies are bondage. If “you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32)” then what good is a lie? It’s no good! How can you put people you love in bondage and for what purpose?
  • Number two: lies show a lack of respect and love. How can you love someone and lie to them at the same time? And when you lie to someone, you are basically saying, “I don’t care enough about you to be honest.” Or, you are saying, “I don’t think you are smart enough to figure out the truth, so…” I hate both of those things.
  • Number three: What would Jesus do? Well, he wouldn’t tell a lie …

I could go on. I hate lies. I’ve lived my life being lied to and deceived by people I loved and trusted, and I hate the brokenness and suspicion that resulted. So when my son said this to me, I did what came natural … being a good mom wasn’t it. A good mom might have started with, “Oh son … I love you no matter what, but –“

Instead, I said, “Son, that’s legit.”

I kid you not. The truth just popped off my tongue and hit my son right between the eyes. He looked at me incredulously and did a nervous chuckle. I then defied motherhood a second time and I swallowed every instinct to immediately apologize for it. Here’s the truth: the way he lies – the ease and surety that makes me uneasy because I’m afraid he believes himself – it does kinda hamper my affections. You know how it is, moms. You know you love your kids but sometimes, you don’t like  them. We all feel this way at some point, right?! So it was truth and I delivered it unapologetically.

He just shook his head, chuckling, and said, “Mom, I can’t believe you said that!”

I sat down on the edge of his bed and said, “Son, your lying really needs to stop.”

I’ve been thinking about this all day, praying about it, because naturally, I’m always nervous about how badly I’m screwing my kids up. I wasn’t looking to justify myself, just exploring my own lack of good parental etiquette. Instead of finding myself coming  up short, I recognized a little of my own Father in it. You see, God hits us with hard truths sometimes. He allows things to dawn on us and when we begin to sense the Holy Spirit directing change in our lives, God guides us to that change with a healthy dose of truth that He doesn’t apologize for. He doesn’t even cushion the impact. If the truth is going to set us free, it has to first illuminate the bondage and break it. Being broken is hard, but freedom … who can deny it’s preciousness? It turns out God doesn’t always function within the guidelines of “etiquette” as we understand it either. He is loving, but often blunt as well. The Lord chastises those He loves (Heb. 12:6). We live in a time where this sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s scriptural. God doesn’t always protect our feelings. He’s busy protecting our spirits and our eternities.

I think it’s important to remember that God still loves us in these moments. I love and adore my son to death. But his lying … I don’t love that at all. I could live without it and I know that this bad character trait will make his life a lot harder than life already is. I love my son so much. I don’t want to see him intensifying his own struggles by something the Holy Spirit can deal with. I want him to embrace this as an eye-opening opportunity to make a change for the better. God wants the same for His children. And the Bible calls Him a good, good Father. I guess I’m not so bad after all!

What Kind of a Mother am I?

Published May 2, 2017 by Dawn

When my kids were little, they had such beautiful faith. Every ache, fever, whatever … they would come to me and plead, “Mom, can you pray over me?” They just knew that if we prayed, they would be healed. God was so gracious too. Most of the time – without medication – a simple prayer later, my kids were back to their normal selves. It really bolstered their faith, and they began to rely on my praying over them more and more.

There were times, of course, when praying wasn’t my number one priority. As sad as it is to admit, when my kids would come to me in the middle of the night and wake me out of a dead sleep with really bad knee pains or headaches, I remember pulling him or her into bed with me and cuddling a crying child, trying to schmooze him or her back to sleep. “Pray with me, Mom, please!” The pleading would fall on deaf ears. The humiliating truth is I just wanted to sleep. I was mostly exhausted from working 40 hours a week and going to school, and semi-taking care of a house/yard/two kids. My excuse, however seemingly valid at the time, kept me from performing my kids’ saving grace. They knew if I’d just pray, they would feel brand new. I thought that feeling was the result of sleep, so I slept on.

I was sitting on the couch this evening with my son laid across the couch beside me, his head in my lap. I was thinking about prayer and how powerful it is. How devastatingly underutilized it is … when this truth hit me: it’s all my fault.

Don’t try to console me. I need this truth. You see, it is my fault and I needed to hear this. I am not afraid of the truth. I like freedom. I like growing. The truth is vital to both. I said to myself, “This is all my fault. The depression my kids are battling. The ways Satan has manipulated my family. The way he’s winning most of the time. I just wanted to rest, but look at what’s happened! Instead of pressing in in prayer, I checked out in exhaustion and suddenly the battle is out of control!

“Pray with me, Mom.”

I’m broken. It’s all my fault. I shouldn’t have allowed this slumber to get the best of me. I shouldn’t have encouraged my kids to sleep too, when prayer has become such a necessity. What kind of a mother am I to leave my kids suffering in pain while I struggle to maintain my grasp on ease and comfort and rest? How can I, with the keys to the kingdom in my hands, leave things unlocked in my own home? How can I, having been given all power and authority, allow Satan to run rampant in our lives? What kind of a mother am I?

Don’t try to console me. I need this guilt and shame. I needed God look me square in the eye and speak this truth, and let me grapple with it because tonight, things changed. My son heard me weeping and awoke out of his slumber. “What’s wrong, Mom?

“I’m so sorry. I love you so much and I’m sorry for leaving you in your pain and not praying over you.” Then we cried and prayed together, like I should have done a long time ago. I should have awakened and prayed a long time ago.

I hesitated to write this because it’s painful and raw … and really embarrassing. But I wanted to share it because I wanted to encourage you: whatever it is, pray. Wake up and pray. Stop allowing Satan to lull you into complacency. That’s how he keeps us ineffectual. That’s how he keeps winning in our lives. Prayer is so powerful and he knows it. But so do you. “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Don’t say to me, “But I’m not righteous.” There’s a prayer for that too! Get right before God, then get down to the nitty-gritty and take care of business in your life, and the lives of those you love. Sometimes, we can do nothing more than pray. Thankfully, prayer is the best way to make a difference. What kind of a mother am I? A praying one – enemy beware!

Beyond My Strength to Endure

Published April 4, 2017 by Dawn

This past weekend was EXHAUSTING. It was really good, but really exhausting. So exhausting that this blog took me four hours to write because I took a nap in the middle of writing it.

I took the youth group on a weekend glamping trip to a nearby theme park (and by nearby, I mean a four-hour drive … and we camped near the park … in cabins). We left on Friday and came back on Sunday. It was hands down the best extended trip I have ever taken a group on and I would do it again in a heartbeat. But it was long and took a lot out of me. Travel back with me to when it all started and see if you don’t come out exhausted too:

I woke up Friday and took the kids to school. Came home and went on a three-mile run before getting ready to go because I knew I’d not have a chance to run all weekend. Showered afterward and then left to drive 40 minutes north to pick up the rental van. Brought it home, packed our things into it, went shopping for weekend supplies (that took an hour of fast-paced aisle hopping), and then headed to grab the kids from school and meet the rest of the teens at church.

Our adventure began with a four-hour drive, complete with a concert at the top of our lungs and other shenanigans. We arrived at the campground, unpacked the van and while they all went off in every direction to “hang,” I sat down for a few minutes to unwind … I get uptight after extended periods of nonstop action.

An hour or so later, I started the campfire for dinner. We roasted hotdogs. I kept up with the trash and micromanaged a bunch because I didn’t want the messes to get out of hand. It happens quick with kids. Dinner done, they headed up to the gameroom for some evening fun while I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the fire. I know you think I should have been well-rested and not exhausted, and truth be told, I was at this point. Friday, after all the early hassles, turned out really awesome. I had a lot of down time. But then we stayed up until eleven, and I had to share a bed with my daughter and niece. I don’t share a bed with anyone, so this part was really hard. They were laughing, bouncing around on the bed, refusing to go to sleep … I was tired and there was way too much noise for me to sleep. I finally fell asleep at midnight and got a total of five hours of sleep before I was up for Saturday. Saturday, we left the campground at 8:00, so we had to wake the teens up at seven and have them breakfasted and on the van ready to go by seven thirty. We arrived at the park, waited a bunch and while they all rode rides all day, I ambled around the park talking to a friend who went with us. She wanted to ride a few rides, so I sat for an hour or so in a chapel there and read a hymnal until it was time to leave.

We went to dinner, played games for a few hours back at camp and then headed to bed. I finally fell asleep around 1:00 a.m. and managed to stay blissfully unaware until 7:00 a.m. If you are adding up sleep hours, that’s eleven in two nights. We went back to the park for a few hours before heading home, and then four more hours crammed into the van got us home. At this point, I was sooooooo done. But I really wasn’t done. I still had to wait for parents to pick their kids up (waited an hour for one), then I had to drive the van back, which took another hour and a half. When I finally made it home, I had to turn around and leave again because it was my son’s birthday and we hadn’t properly celebrated (or eaten), so we headed out to his favorite restaurant.

Back up just a little and I will let you into my head: On the bus on the way home, as the second Top-O’-The-Lungs Concert was happening right behind the driver’s seat, I started thinking about that drive to take the van back. I wanted to be home so bad, relaxing before bed, knowing I had to go to work today. That drive to take the van back was taunting me. I didn’t want to do it! I nearly cried for most of the drive home because I just wanted to be done. I wanted to go home at the same time as everyone else. I wanted to sleep!

I started praying for strength to endure. The same prayer I pray while I’m running. “Help me to make it to the end. Your word says you are strong in my weakness. Be strong in me!”

This truth became painfully obvious while I finished the long evening ahead of me: God’s calling has nothing to do with convenience. He’s not always concerned about us. When we submit to being His vessel, He uses us faithfully, but His ultimate concern is the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of others. The “job” isn’t always over when we like for it to be. It may require more of us than we would give on our own. It may require all of us. It may not be easy and God doesn’t necessarily apologize for that. Our comfort is not His main concern. Paul recounts this same truth in 2 Corinthians 11:27: “I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. God’s calling in Paul’s life had one aim and that was to use Paul to the fullest for God’s glory.

God’s aim in and through us is the same. We cannot allow our needs and our desires to dictate our usefulness to God. We cannot allow our comfort to keep us in a place where God can’t use us fully. If He is going to have His way through us, we have to be willing to be used beyond our feelings. Beyond our fleshly abilities to endure. We have to allow ourselves to be weak and still persevere through what God wants to do, being made strong by His Holy Spirit. The finish line isn’t dictated by our feelings. It is dictated by the Father, and He has promised to sustain us.

Enough is Enough

Published May 4, 2016 by Dawn

Kids shooting poison into their veins

The world is poisoning their brains

When will we all stand up and say

Enough is enough!

 

The church resembles more the lost

Because we don’t want to pay the cost

In a world torn and tossed

Enough is enough!

 

We stand in rather than out

When will someone stand up and shout

It is my God I think about!

Enough is enough!

 

Where are those ready to lead?

Those called to sacrifice and bleed

To bring the world back to it’s knees

Enough is enough!

 

We hide our anguish and our pain

Terrified to speak His name

And we’ve only ourselves to blame

Enough is enough!

 

It’s time to bow in humble pleas

To our God, upon our knees

Turn the tide of this disease

Enough is enough!

 

You have been called but have you listened?

Are you seeking in submission?

The church has a commission

Enough is enough

 

Now warriors, stand up on your feet

Do not accept the word “defeat”

In Christ alone, Satan is beat!

Enough is enough!

 

There is no better time than now

To decide, to make a vow

To the dark we will not bow!

Enough is enough!

Confessions of a Teenage Screw-up

Published July 26, 2014 by Dawn

 

Epic Fail. Our plan seemed fail-proof and yet somehow, we botched it and now my mom was on her way home. On her way home to take me to the Health Department. To get a pregnancy test … I was scared out of my mind.

 

Not that I needed the test. I had been so sick for two days, unable to eat, hardly able to move without getting nauseous, and I had put myself in a very vulnerable position for way too long. It was pretty much inevitable. And mom was on her way home. I took a short shower and then sat nervously waiting for her to pull up. Finally, the car horn went off and I walked out to her livid face sitting in the driver’s seat. She couldn’t even look at me. I got in the passenger’s seat and shut the door, and she pulled off without a word. Then she started asking questions. I don’t remember if I cried or if I just answered her with the same numb monotone I had grown so accustomed to using with people. Why did she all the sudden care? And at the same time, I wanted her to care. I wanted her to care that her daughter had just messed up really bad. And I wanted her to look at me, and tell me it would be okay and that no matter what she loved me. But she couldn’t. And I was dying inside.

 

We got to the Health Department, signed in and waited. My turn came and I peed in the cup and waited some more. My mom hadn’t said anything since we got there. A few minutes passed and the lady called my name again, and asked me if I wanted my mom to come back too. Did I want my mom?! Yes! I wanted her. Even if she couldn’t look at me or speak to me, I wanted her. I was dying inside.

 

She pulled us into a small room and explained this paper in her hand. A whole sheet of paper with a lot of words I hardly understood just to tell me I was pregnant. Another pregnant sixteen year old. I was so – – I don’t know what I was … ashamed. Embarrassed. Terrified. Lost. Dying inside.

 

I don’t remember what my mom said as we went home. We both cried. She said some things to try to help me through the pain of the moment, but I couldn’t hear her over all the other voices in my head. I was imagining what my friends would say. What my ex would say. What my principal, who had become the closest thing to a father to me, would say. What I would say to myself when I finally decided to cope with this life instead of ignoring it or wishing it away. What the heck I was going to do about this baby. How it would change my life. My plans for the future. All my relationships. What was my mom saying to me in that moment? Looking back, I wish I’d have just listened intently to her and soaked up her wisdom and love. It might have helped me through the next few months of my life.

 

When you tell the right people, word travels faster than the speed of sound itself. I told the right people. My sister and my ex’s best friend, and within an hour, the phone was ringing. “What’s going on,” he said. “Oh, you know, a lot,” I said. And then burst into tears. See, I had just decided I was done with him. I mean really done. We’d been “going out” for several years on and off. On when he was sure he wanted to be with me, and off when he was sure he was too young to be with just one girl. And I was so love-sick and desperate, I let him do whatever. He was saying everything I wanted to hear and although his actions were screaming something else, all my heart would hear was what his lying lips were saying. And finally, I had decided I was done. I started making plans to go to an acting school in California, had filled out the application and was awaiting a phone call to set up an audition when I found out I was pregnant. Right when I had decided to run away from it all, I became bound to it by a child I didn’t even know I wanted.

 

The next day at school, the whispers started. The shunning. They don’t mean to be so cruel. But kids don’t know what to do with natural curiosity sometimes, and with little thought, they whispered and stared and cut me to pieces in my heart every day for months. And teachers weren’t much better. Everyone has an opinion and no one knows what to do with it. It’s just too good to keep to themselves, so they say what they need to say and feel justified in it. It’s utterly worthless for building others up, and doing damage no one could anticipate. But no one cared. It wasn’t their hearts bleeding.

 

I don’t remember much from the months of pregnancy. I slept through a large portion of it. Hormones and depression will do that to a person. I do remember a few things. First, there was the day I told me dad. My biological dad. He called me a whore. I stopped talking to him. We were done. I was dying and he’d driven another knife into my already bleeding heart. There was the day my school counselor told me to consider my dreams in light of my circumstances and pretty much “get real.” I didn’t want to. Reality hurt so bad. Reality was killing me slowly. I wanted to believe I could still be somebody and do something great. Get through acting school and move to NYC. Pursue a career on Broadway. Reality was a bunch of painful statistics I didn’t want to face. Like, pregnant teens rarely finish school, don’t go to college, and live off state assistance the rest of their lives. They rely heavily on family. They don’t usually make more than X-amount of money because they usually have several kids at a really young age and life just sweeps them away into a lifelong poverty. No college, no dreams realized. Pregnant teens have very little positive prospects. This was the reality I was supposed to face. No thanks. I hated her at that moment, and for a long time afterward.

 

There was the time in Wal-Mart when I was about seven months pregnant. I was looking at Shampoo with my mom and called her “mommy.” And suddenly realized how young and vulnerable I felt, and how much of a child I still was inside. With a child inside. It scared the crap out of me.

 

I also remember the night I wrote a suicide note and hid it in the second drawer of my dresser. I had finally made a plan and decided to stick to it. I had been depressed since I was thirteen, and pregnancy sent me over the edge. I was home alone a lot, and the inner turmoil in me was more than I could bear. I didn’t want a baby. I didn’t want to continue any type of relationship with this stupid boy. I didn’t want to face reality about my future. And finally, I didn’t even care about that future. I just wanted to die. So I wrote the note, determined to end my life after having the baby and before leaving the hospital. I had been cutting myself for a while anyway, and I guess, warming up to it. I figured, just a deeper cut and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. So I wrote the note explaining my pain and why I decided to kill myself. I thought maybe that would provide some type of peace of mind for my mom.

 

I remember the morning I went into labor. It was 4:40 in the morning on the day the doctor said she’d come. No surprise, but the timing was awful. I walked my bedroom floor for two hours until my mom woke up and we went to get my boyfriend (my ex and I reconciled) and headed to the hospital. The rest of the day was a day from hell. They induced me, I went into contractions around noon. I remember laying in the hospital bed looking around at the people in the room: my mom, my sister and my boyfriend, and thinking to myself, “They have no idea I’m going to be gone before tomorrow morning.” I was numb to the idea, and saddened by it all at the same time. The nurses finally came in and told me to push around six in the evening, and by eight, decided this baby should not be born naturally. Maybe could not. The doctor asked me what I wanted to do, and I said, “Well, what are my choices?” He told me we could continue doing what we’re doing or we could do a C-section. I asked his professional advice and he said simply, “Well, if we continue to do what we’re doing … one of you might not make it.” And all the sudden, I cared. I wanted to die. But I didn’t want this innocent baby to die. So I decided on a C-section. A half hour later, I heard the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard. A tiny cry pulled me away from the worst physical pain I have ever experienced in my life. The epidural didn’t seem to work all that well and while the doctor was assuring me I’d only feel pressure as he worked, I was feeling the searing hotness of being cut into and organs moved as he delivered my daughter. It was agonizing. Her cries were a welcome relief from the pain, and in that moment that I first heard her cry, I wanted so badly to be her mommy. To love her and be loved by her. I wanted to give her all the love in me that no one else seemed to want. I lost my heart in that moment. She stole it.

 

True to statistic, I had another baby within a year and a half. I didn’t want him either. Same guy, same lie, same stupid emotional roller coaster. Same ridiculous ending. I was eighteen and pregnant again. My daughter had become my life, and now all the sudden, I was struggling to both continue loving her while simultaneously hating everything else about my life. I messed her up in the months that followed. When my heart shattered this time, there was someone so close to it, she got hurt too. I am still so sorry to her for that. But I had my son because I loved my daughter. And only because I loved my daughter. It took me six months to love him. I prayed everyday, “God, please, I want to love this baby. I don’t just want to care for him out of obligation. I want to love him like I love her. Help me!” I was so desperate for my heart to change toward him. All I felt was a sickening feeling of obligation. I did not adore him. I didn’t want to be his mommy. Until the day I looked at him and he stole my heart too. I don’t’ know what changed. I just remember being flooded one day with every feeling I knew I should have had toward him and never did until that moment. And I cried. I still do. He’s precious. Ten years later, he’s so precious to me.

 

After that pregnancy, I decided to get well. I walked away from the relationship that was doing nothing but destroying me and I purposed to defy every other statistic I had heard about teen moms. I graduated high school. One down, many more to go. I enrolled in college that fall and finished four years later with a Bachelor’s degree. Took my best friend to my graduation in New York. I decided that since I might not ever act on Broadway like I wanted to, I’d at least go see it. We did. It was four days in New York that thoroughly convinced me I could never live in New York anyway. One more statistic down. That fall, I bought my own home. A friend in the Real Estate business told me she found a perfect house for us. I went with her to look at it, fell in love instantly, and began to walk the land. I prayed over it. I walked the yard praying. I filled out the paperwork and although she warned me that the application process was sometimes a huge hassle, mine was quick and painless. God had opened up a major door in my life, and I walked through it. We’ve lived in that house for almost six years. All this time, I’ve been on government assistance. That’s another one, remember. Another statistic teen mothers live under. I’ve lived it. It’s humiliating. It’s a prophecy I don’t necessarily care for. But I’ve lived it, so what can I say? They weren’t wrong. Just a painful word spoken over way too many girls. A useless utterance. Hopelessness spoken over an already painful reality.

 

I shared all of this to tell you something super wonderful about my God: He cares about the things we care about. They touch His heart and He knows our pain. Not only does He know, He absolutely cares. Our concerns become His concerns. Every one of those statistics I set out to defy, He has helped me to conquer. Including state assistance. A few months ago, I applied for a position that would pay a salary big enough to get me off of state assistance. I didn’t get the position. What I got was a post-interview in which I was told that there was absolutely nothing wrong with my interview or my skills, but they gave the job to a man who could bring more to the table. He was also a football coach. So I lost out. But I also received such a confident peace from the Lord that I boldly said, “You know, it’s totally okay. I am confident that when God is ready to bless me, nothing and no one can stand in the way of His open door.” And I meant it. And last month, they pulled me into an office adjacent to the classroom I work in and offered me that position. God worked so that not just that guy, but the two or three prospective hires after him, all received better positions until they offered it to me. And so, finally, my two children and I are done with welfare. Praise God! And with that, I am convinced that there is nothing the world can say that will stand when God speaks something in our lives. I may not have ended up on Broadway, but I have a daily stage presence in the lives of area teens both as a teacher and as a youth leader. And I know very well what they are going through. My life as a teenage robot ran the gamut. Been there, done that is such an understatement. And God is using my pain. And I am totally okay with that. He has gone above and beyond for me and I was the world’s refuse. Yes, my God has turned major tests into a magnificent testimony. And He can do it again.

 

Let me ask this of you: don’t just read this. Don’t. Don’t fill up on my life’s story and think you know me and walk away with just that: a better understanding of my life and where I come from and what God has done. Take it in. Recognize the pain, depression, hopelessness, the slow dying. Notice the determination and complete dependence on God that created my victory. Walk away with a better understanding of hurting girls who give themselves away, desperately seeking love. Love them so they won’t! Speak words of wisdom, not your opinion, into their situations. Pray with them. Pray for them. Pray for these boys that don’t know what they are doing, and don’t yet care. Pray for the media that sells sex like a drug to the sea of hurting, and wonders why promiscuity reigns. Pray for the church to become effective again, so people know where to run to, and about the Father who loves them as desperately as they want to be loved. Pray for mothers who don’t know how to love their kids because they hate themselves. Pray for kids who don’t understand the pain in their mommy, or why their mommy can’t say “I love you” or hug them. Pray for men to become daddies again. To care for their offspring and to care for the women they profess with their mouths to love. Pray for men who will step up in a position of fatherhood they didn’t create so that generations to follow will become healthy and whole again. Pray for those who don’t think they will ever rise above their present circumstances. Pray that they will come to know our amazing God who speaks things that are not as though they were. Pray for change. Please, pray for change.

 

So what you’re trying to say is…

Published October 8, 2013 by Dawn

I’m on the edge of a nightmare. Seriously, it’s even given me nightmares the last couple of days. Friday, my daughter will be 11. No longer a small step away from childhood, such as ten felt like. No, she’s on the edge of adolescence. Barbie dolls have been replaced by purses and cute boots on her birthday list. I’m freaking out just a little. Not to mention that with this new phase of life comes hormones and mood swings and all that jazz. I may have gotten my first taste yesterday of what this could look like: she voiced her displeasure with me for well over an hour after I made her come hang with her brother and I outside. Playing games in the backyard used the be our favorite thing to do. Instead, we played while she ranted about being “forced to come outside.”

As time wore on and I remained happy despite her best efforts, her mouth became less and less kind until I finally just stopped trying to coax her into playing and we did our thing without her. After an hour or so, I let everyone come in and I sent her to her room because she was still not over her attitude. I went in to explain to her how her behavior was not respectful and godly, and she continued to pour out her anger, so I left her to fume over it. About twenty minutes later, she said she was done and wanted to come out and join us, so I let her. She picked up her phone and began to text and my phone went off …. It was my daughter. Her text said, “Mom, I really need a hug. I’ve been trying to tell you that for the last fifteen minutes or so, but you weren’t listening.”

Um … I heard everything she said, and that was nowhere in there. So I sent back, “All that was just to say you need a hug?” Her reply was, “I don’t know, exactly.” So while hugging, we discussed how she could have communicated more effectively her need.

I’ve been thinking about this all day: how hard it was for my daughter to tell me, whom she shares most everything with, that she needs a hug. And I wonder … how many other people out there are communicating in such detrimental ways because they don’t know how to say what they really mean. What really hurts the most is that she most likely learned this communication skill from me … I am afraid I’m guilty of saying things to hide what I really want to say. This is something I work on all the time, because I believe that “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Lies, whether blatant or borne subconsciously from some deep-seated fear, put people in bondage. I hate bondage. Been there, done that and NEVER want to go back. But I understand the fear of rejection and feelings of worthlessness when you are vulnerable to someone who doesn’t reciprocate or respond to your feelings. But do you know what else I have learned? There are people out there who can help you heal from that if you will just trust one more time … or maybe a few more times. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? Amen!

Back to my point: everything she said to me was lost in translation. She was trying to say something without really saying it, and instead, she was saying other things she didn’t really mean to hide her real need. I told her afterward, “You can’t draw people to you by pushing them away.” And that’s true. You can’t keep people at arms’ length and expect them to hear the very quiet cry of your heart. Let them close!

And, I know now that there are people I am around everyday who have a heart cry that I can’t understand, who are saying one thing and silently screaming out another. I’m usually at a loss. I can’t understand and do not discern the deeper needs most of the time. I am really naïve, I think. But, the Holy Spirit is faithful to provide discernment if we ask for it, and I know that I will need it now more than ever, and even more so in the upcoming years in my life.

Come, Holy Spirit, I need You! I want to be less inclined to listen to what I hear, and much more aware of what You hear. Be my translator in all my relationships so that I can know what people need and respond in the way the need me to respond. Teach me, open my ears and be my guide in the days ahead. I trust you!