When my daughter was around 14, she made a statement in response to something I was trying to explain about why we did what we did in our family. She said, “Mom, we are such a plastic family.”
I was was confused by her words.
She went on to explain that we were just so stiff and uptight. This is not how “real” families did stuff. Why can’t we live like other families? What’s wrong with us?
I can remember being instantly edgy and defensive. I was doing my best for Jesus. Why was she questioning our methods? What was so unreal about how we lived? Are we really that strange? Insecurity jumped up and I squashed her words with a repeated explanation of how we were called to be different than the world and would not always fit in – my voice had gotten louder and I was clearly upset.
She went away with an eye-roll and quick turn, upset with my answer – almost defeated by it. I felt like I had explained it well and she just didn’t understand or want to accept that because she was a teenager, wanting her own way, not liking the rules and how they made her feel different than her friends. In other words, I decided SHE was rebellious – it was HER problem – and off I went to finish dinner, justified in my mind that I was being godly and she simply needed to grow up. But in the back of my head, her words caused me to doubt I was a good mother – I was failing and had no real answers.
When I look back on it and honestly process her words, I think I know what she meant so long ago.
- a “posed” family that looked like mannequins in a store – without life or joy in the doing (hey its easy to be a perfect size 4 and fashionable when you are not real and haven’t been wounded)
- rules lived in a way she could not see the biblical Jesus in – we did all the “right” things, but why?
- not much give-and-take-discussions about anything – “I said so! and “Just do it!”
A very sobering and convicting revelation for me as it sunk in.
“Control the image”, “keep the peace”, “follow the rules” – all will turn out fine. The panic phrases that kept the world from spinning out of control, gained power.
But things were NOT under control and I was too exhausted fix it. Keeping the exterior safe and shiny was all-consuming. My daughter’s thoughts had to be dismissed – I did not have energy to be real or even examine how we were NOT being real. Her words hurt and confused but I could not help her. I couldn’t think straight, driven forward by a fear of failing to protect and produce kids who were both safe and knew Jesus. The word “driven” is an understatement. There was no time to sit and contemplate the trueness of her thoughts or steps to correct it.
I really WANTED to live passionately for the Lord. And yet I was fixated on trying to protect – me AND my kids. I was so painfully aware of what happens when things get out of control and people get hurt. My heart and mind were ALWAYS on guard. God didn’t, couldn’t or wouldn’t protect me from hurt. I cannot count on Him to help me keep everyone safe. I alone am the protector of my home. Who would protect and make things right if I did not do it? Who would defend my family if I let my guard down? It was totally exhausting, but it was my life and I did not know how to be “real” – what did that even mean or look like?
Then my world began crumbling apart. Large cracks began to appear in the kids and in me. When the walls fell in in very visible ways and the dust settled, many things were broken. Some are STILL in need of repair. Some have moved on and lost hope in waiting for ME to heal.
This is my story, but it is not the WHOLE STORY…
All these years later, I find myself grieving over the pain I caused, my total inability to really answer my daughter’s questions from a place of trusting God, and how that could have changed everything for me…and her. I wish I could tell MYSELF then what I know now. God had never built me for a broken world, and others chose to hurt me out of their brokenness -it grieved HIS heart. HE cared about justice for me more than I could ever realize. HE is faithful to His promises to take and use the pain of that past and help me listen to other hurting women with a tender heart, speaking His words of hope and healing. I NOW know what it is to be free from the jail cell of anger, fear, and bitterness.
My scars from the past remind me of all He has brought me through. He has made me strong in Him THROUGH the storm of fear and doubt when I thought it would consume me. I now wake up every morning, seeking to remind myself of whose I am and that He is still working all things for my good and those I love. I want to continually entrust my protection and justice to the One who always judges justly. My jail cell remains empty – by His grace I will not return…even when Satan whispers past failures to my heart. Satan cannot redeem the past. I will cling to Jesus who can…and is.