Tuesday, May 22, 2012

One Red Thread and Several Red Seas

Last week I spoke to a group of young women about our wilderness experience with our oldest son. The theme was “Hard Things.”  As I prayed about the content of my presentation, I was directed to the 2009 archives of my blog. I was amazed that I’d been inspired to start writing here almost exactly a year before we hit the moment of crisis. I was instantly grateful for the record I’d kept. Through my posts I was able to take myself back to that place, relive some of the “hard things,” as well as the attendant blessings. And I felt reconnected to you—my friends who are anything but “virtual.” I was very moved as I reread your comments and offers of prayers. 

Our daughter was in the audience as I spoke that night, and while she listened to me retell our family’s saga tears flowed down her cheeks. I recalled with poignancy that this was a “Hard Thing” for the whole family—not just for our oldest, or for us as parents—this was a crucible for the younger children as well. She was so worried about her big brother and his choices, often caught between feeling loyal to him and knowing she needed to involve us. There were times, early on, when she felt judged, tarnished and even ostracized by friends at school. She felt as broken and wounded as we did the day we finally sent him off to the wilderness. She suffered, she wept, she grew...and she was galvanized. All because of that invisible red thread that connects us as family.

Later in the week, as I sat in the audience listening to her sing with her high school choir, I realized that this girl has been magnificently rewarded for her choices, her growth, her persistence, her loyalty and her love. 

When she declared her intention to run for Senior VP, the (very popular) girl who was supposedly running against her suddenly dropped out of the race. And our daughter ran unopposed. A red sea, parted.

When she auditioned for Madrigals, she sang the hymn “Be Still My Soul.” The words are sublime: 
  Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;
With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In ev’ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Our daughter at age seven.
I was there, accompanying her on the piano. She was singing with a friend so she wouldn’t be as nervous. They started out just fine. Then suddenly my little girl began to cry. It was an unprecedented opening of emotional floodgates. She was suddenly so moved by the words of the hymn, she could barely get any notes out at all, and was wiping huge crocodile tears from her face. I asked if she wanted to start over. Her teacher suggested she go out in the hall and get a drink and pull herself together. Meanwhile her adorable audition partner was just standing there waiting with a big grin on his face. Bless his heart. She came back and was able to get through the song, but it was not her best performance. I didn’t think there was any way she’d make the choir after that audition. When she called me the following Monday to tell me she was on the list, suddenly it was my turn to cry. Another red sea, parted.

Our daughter has also had to part ways with a few friends over the past couple of years...one to an out-of-state move, one who was making bad choices, another who “wasn’t a good influence,” and one to a baffling misunderstanding. In their wake, however, she now finds herself surrounded by the brightest and best kids imaginable. I couldn’t have hand-picked a better crop of teenagers if I went over to the high school myself. I adore these kids who invade my kitchen at lunchtime, who all went to the prom in a big group , and who regularly surround our dining room table to quiz each other on flashcards for the AP test. What was once a painful parting has been replaced with a sea of good friends. Another red sea. This time surrounding her in warmth, sweeping her up in its current and delivering her to a better place. 

Within the past couple of weeks our daughter has received a sea of accolades: she made the journalism staff, the madrigal choir, the H.O.S.A. president, the seminary council, and Senior Class Vice-President. Her plate will be very, very full next year...but her cup is overflowing. 

As I thought about the red sea that parted, opening a way for us to help our oldest son, circling me with a current of support, and then the red seas that have recently opened up for our daughter, over and over again, the red thread is stronger than ever, the miracles are evident, and the waters serene.

I'm linking up with my friend Heather's JUST WRITE series, here.