About a month ago I had a conversation with a new woman friend in my life. We have known of each other til something I taught stuck with her and she decided to have a long and overdue conversation with me. Overdue because I really like her and who knew I would like her so much. Our conversation was honest and raw because we both live with the same fears and the same pains.
In the days after and through my random prayers for her, this message for her poured out of me. In one coherent sitting. That alone told me to pay attention to it. I wrote it and held it to give to her the day her grandbaby would be born. And I never did. When this anticipated one was born I chickened out. Or more correctly I felt I heard the Holy Spirit say “no” because we don’t have this kind of relationship yet. This was too much of me barging into a sweet family time.
So I’m wondering, did I write this for someone else? Is this for you? Do you need to know that your identity is not based on your child’s behavior? Do you need to know that all that you fear does not negate all the right that you are doing? Do you need to know that your fears do not control the outcome?
This is for you.
Dear Newly Bravely Vulnerable Friend,
Feel all of the joy of the moment of this grandbaby’s birth. Then notice how that joy is going to scare the crap out of you. Your mind is going to race to all of the crazy thoughts of what could go wrong with this baby’s future, with your daughter’s decision making (which you cannot control), for the coming doom which you are sure is coming. Stop. Feel the joy.
Joy is the most vulnerable human emotion because in that moment you are feeling the truth that “I am worthy” to have this joy. And in that same moment you are going to trash that feeling because you believe you aren’t worthy to feel that joy. You believe that your daughter’s decisions have a root of fault in you. You believe that your identity is based in your daughter’s behavior.
But you have done your job of raising your daughter. It may have been mistake-filled. It may have been grace-filled. You can rewrite that history all you want but what can’t be changed is it is history. You did the job you had to do as a parent. And you did it to the best of your ability. Maybe your ability is better now that you are older but back then the truth is YOU PARENTED TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY. There is not one day that you half-assed it. Even with your wiser mind now and you remember those half-assed screwed up days differently. On that day you were doing all that you could. You love your daughter and that was the base for doing all that you could. Don’t rewrite this history and add the lie of shame to the story. You parented well.
Your daughter made her own decisions. That is a hard truth. Your role as a parent now is to figure out how to help while allowing your daughter to live in the repercussions of her own decisions. This is the worst part of parenting in my opinion. Because really there is not a lot you can do. You need to allow your daughter to be grown and that now includes her being a mom.
The comfortable feeling here is not joy. It is fear. Yes, fear is a comfortable feeling. It is the armor you use to protect yourself from pain. Fear feels comfortable as you try to control the outcome because you love her so much. But the opposite of love according to the Bible (1 John 4:18) is fear. So this fear that has been the juice of your relationship with her is not really love. Fear lies. It feels like you are actually doing something to control the outcome, but the outcome is not in your control. This does not mean you get the wonderful gift of peace. Too many emotions are involved for that! But fear is an adrenaline-pusher that produces nothing good. Too often it produces shame and regret.
I mention the comfort of fear here not as a shame but in this moment when you see this new life who is your very own grandbaby I don’t want you to feel fear. I want you to feel joy. The vulnerable kind. Because I want you to know that you are worthy of holding this grandbaby and feeling this joy. All of it. It is a pure moment.
And God has his hand on all of the rest.
Don’t be afraid to be blindsided by pain. You may or may not. You will either numb or dress rehearse for tragedy. This is the armor you use to protect yourself from pain. Fear does not control the outcome. Your fear is a feeling you can actually be comfortable with, it is a feeling you know. Looking in full joy at your grandbaby is a feeling that is new to you. Stay in it. Rejoice in this pure moment.
Worthiness is your birthright. You are worthy to feel this joy. And this grandbaby is going to give you so much joy your heart will not be able to contain it. You will be surprised by that.
And God has his hand on all of the rest.