It was time for bed and my daughter seemed distant, so I gave her a hug and prayed for her before sending her upstairs. At the foot of the stairs she turned and said, “Will you rock me?”
My heart cried silently, “No, you have worn me down. The day is over and I am tired.”
I whispered in Russ’ ear, “I’m going to fake it ’til I make it. Pray for me.” [...]
We went to the “ugly chair” and she climbed in my lap. I sang while I rocked, “…now I can trade these ashes in for beauty, and wear forgiveness like a crown. Coming to kiss the feet of mercy, I lay every burden down at the foot of the cross.”
She sniffed back tears. I quietly talked about the importance of “letting love cover a multitude of sins.” Even people in a family hurt each other, but we forgive them and move on. We can’t let ourselves be bitter or distant because it only hurts our own hearts.
She began to compare herself with her sister and the perceived disparity in privileges. When I replied that some privileges had been earned due to mature behavior, her lip trembled and she said, “But she isn’t from Ethiopia, and her mom didn’t die!”
Her pain was so real, so fresh, I could nearly smell it on her skin. The sobs came pouring forth as if her mother had died yesterday. In some ways, that was nearly true.
When we arrived in Ethiopia to bring her home, we were surprised and saddened when we learned she did not know her mother had died. Apparently nobody had the heart to tell her, so for years she held out hope that her mother would someday return for her.
We rocked and she cried. I comforted her telling her that I knew her sadness was very real.
“But the sadness won’t go away,” she said.
Just to be sure, I asked her, “Sweetie, when did you find out that your mommy had died?”
“When you told me.”
“But didn’t you ever wonder, all those years at the orphanage, if your mommy had died?”
“No, because sometimes kids come to the orphanage because their parents are too poor and can’t take care of them.”
I nearly wept to think of her waiting and hoping, only to have us show up and strip that away. She wanted a family, she wanted a mother, but she wanted her mother, not me. I swept away her hope, but I also told her the truth, a truth which broke her heart. But God is the healer of broken hearts and I know He will help her “trade her ashes in for beauty”. In the meantime I pray that God will give me a huge measure of patience as He heals my daughter’s heart.