It was just the two of us home tonight. The college kids haven't yet returned for the summer break. Her sister was eating dinner with at a friend's house. And here we were. She walked toward the kitchen as I put something quick together for dinner.
"Mom, I'm nervous....well...not nervous...well...maybe I am nervous about my test tomorrow."
Her end-of-course math exam will greet her early tomorrow morning. She offered her fear to me.
For almost five years, I have pursued and wooed and been met with a hard, cold heart. Lips tight, holding inside the tender things. Her fears, her delights, her dreams, her crushes. Offering those to me didn't seem to be a thought. They were vaulted tightly away. I'd come to a place of surrender through these years. Surrender to the possibility that she might never open; that her soul might never come to a place where she could see me as a safe mom rather than boxed-in with her step-moms from her past. Not the tender kind. Not the nurturing kind. They were all surviving the best they could. I really believe that. But our girl came to us all fearful and vaulted-up and detached because this was survival. And she is a survivor.
I have thought through the years if I'd been different, if I'd mothered her differently, if I wasn't me--she would open. Eighteen months ago a counselor let me know that it wasn't about me as much about her view of women. Through play therapy, her sister had shown that women are in power and they are all evil and wicked. I exhaled. It wasn't just me and my inability to love them well. We were all part of this drama. My inner critic struggles to remember and see that in the storm.
We took our dinner onto the back patio and talked. When disconnection has marked our relationship for so many years, I'm amazed at how acutely aware my mind and senses are to the most minute details of our relating. Before the past few months, a night with just the two of us would have felt like a lead blanket covering me, suffocating me. Heavy. Exhausting. Longing for relief or escape or something to ease the ache filling my soul and the untouchable child on the other side of the chasm. Home no longer offered comfort, but felt like exile.Tonight, we were comfortable and we were home.
We bantered about life. She offered some more and I shared stories. Her face lit up with laughter at times. Genuine uncontained joy filling her and overflowing. It was a year ago, this June, that I showed her a picture of a heart made of stone. Dennis and I shared with her that that is how we experienced her as she related to us. We saw that almost everyone in her life but us she blessed with her soft heart which embraced them.
But not us.
We then showed her the stony heart with red peeking through cracks and fissures. We shared with her that this was our vision for her in relationship with us. We told her that we are fighting for her heart and won't stop until we die. She has the option to choose to allow God to open it to us or not. But that we will fight with everything we have in us for her heart to grow permeable to us. Then we made her world very small so that we were all she had. She fought hard for months. And more months. And we knew she could do that until she left home in seven years. She is a fierce survivor and her heartened heart was "life" to her. We were asking her to open to us. To her, that was "death."
The past two months, her hard edges are becoming soft. Her soul is growing permeable. She's no longer fighting her invitational design. And I am diving in. Drinking in every opportunity to know her, explore her, delight in her, comfort her.
She's getting baptized on June 4th. As I was asking her about what baptism means to her and her relationship with Jesus, she said,
"Mom, I don't know how to explain it. I have a relationship with him. I know that. But it's not like yours and dads."
"Do you mean you don't experience the intimacy dad and I enjoy with God?" I asked.
"Yes, that's it."
"Do you want that?" I asked her.
"Yes, I do, but I don't know how to get that."
I told her that it's our job to teach her how to develop a relationship with him, and that I am so excited about her longing to know her Father. That was a few weeks ago. We haven't begun our bible study yet. Tonight she asked when we were starting because she really wants to get to know God better.
I'm in awe. When God was wooing us to adoption, something He clearly whispered to me was that nobody but He could pull this off. The entire journey from adoption to our last breaths--only He could do it. This I know to be true.
"For He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it." 1 Thessalonians 5:24