I take a deep breath before I open her bedroom door to turn out the lights, to say good night, to keep my mouth closed.
There are too many words that will be dangerous if they escape.
She smiles at me, eyes blue and rimmed with red because she has yelled and screamed and cried too much tonight.
Just hug her. Just hug her. Just hug her. And get out before your tongue gets loose.
It is in the middle of my self-lecture that my toe catches her sandal strap and I trip, banging my already sore foot against her bed post.
How is it, that in a moment, my view flips? I quit seeing the sweet daughter who is doing her best to overcome and do the right thing and love. Instead I see a daughter who lies and manipulates and makes rotten excuses.
The words fly out before I remember the plan to hug her and get out. “What kind of shoes do we expect you to wear to school?” The words aren’t loud or unkind, but they cut straight to her heart. They say everything that is left unsaid: She didn’t get away with her lie today.
She yells until her face turns red and the water bottle is thrown on the floor and the tears come back.
It’s a little thing, wearing sandals to school in the snow without permission. She yells some more. It shouldn’t be a big deal.
But it is… because of the
Trying to make it a problem that is not her own.
It happened last night, too. The sandals weren’t the inciting incident, something else was. Then there was the day before and the one before that and last week and last month, always something to sneak or lie or twist the truth.
It can wear a momma’s trust down to a wisp.
It’s about grace, Ruth. Grace.
I close my mouth. Kiss her forehead. “I love you.” I say it over her constant stream of too loud words and brush her hair away from her sweaty cheek.
She pauses and I say it again, “I love you.” I hug her and get out.
I hate feeling like maybe she’s going to lie forever.
There was a woman in the Samaritan village of Sychar
. She drew her water from the well in the middle of the day. It was strange to draw water in the heat of the day. For this woman, though, it was worth it. The discomfort of the heat didn’t even begin to compare to the hostile looks and snide remarks she would have to endure from the other women in the village if she gathered her water at the traditional times. She went to the well in the middle of the day so she could keep to herself.
She was surprised when the lone man spoke to her. He broke three Jewish customs: speaking to a woman; speaking to a Samaritan; and asking for a drink of water from her jar, which would make him ceremonially unclean.
She was shocked as the conversation continued about faith and worship. He knew everything she ever did – all of the dirty secrets that brought her to the well in the middle of the day.
He was kind to her and revealed, “I am the Messiah.”
The woman couldn’t contain herself. She returned to the village, telling everyone about Jesus. The village people found Jesus and convinced him to stay for two days and share his message.
The people believed.
Because Jesus first believed in the woman. She didn’t deserve his trust. She didn’t have it all together. She messed up. Again and again and again. Yet, Jesus believed in her.
I returned to Stephanie’s bedroom. She was almost asleep. I hugged her. She hugged hard, holding on to my neck and not letting go. “I’m sorry, Mom.”
“I don’t want to be like this.”
Her arms get tighter around my neck. I hold her. Rock her. Remind myself that this little girl has a lot to overcome. She doesn’t deserve my trust. She doesn’t have it all together. She messed up. Again and again and again.
“I believe in you,” I whisper in her ear. She snuggles into her pillow and I tuck the blanket around her.
Just before I pull the door shut, I hear her say, “Thanks, Mom.”
Let's Be Email Pals!
Teaching writers doesn't have to drown us.
Enter your information to receive my free eBook, plus weekly tips and encouragement for teaching writers.