I am packing my suitcase, heading up to Canada for ten days to be with Daughter #1. My thoughts have been about the little decisions: What do I want to wear? What do I take to read? What will I want to give away?
But this morning I woke up thinking there is something else that I need.
Besides clothes and books and gifts, I need to pack grace.
I am pondering an experience many years ago when this Daughter #1 taught me a large lesson about grace.
It was an awkward time.
My 20-something daughter had distanced herself from me.
The reason? She said she felt pressure from me, was intimidated by me.
She needed space.
That hurt. Truly.
Why is she afraid of me, her mother? I know I made mistakes but she has forgiven me. What is going on? What should I do?
I complained to friends, and to God.
My friends commiserated with me.
God did not. (He never does.)
He had something deep to show me.
First, I ‘happened’ to see a headline in a newspaper: “Options for Victims: Bruised, Emotionally Tackled Women are Finding New Options for Their Lives.”
That gave me words for how I was feeling: a bruised, tackled victim. Poor me.
Then, a talk on forgiveness. I expected to be told to forgive my daughter, which I wanted to do, but that was not what God planned for me to hear.
The speaker closed with the sad story of her childhood abuse and how she worked to forgive her perpetrator.
Then — surprise — she explained how she sought forgiveness from her husband and children. “I did not think of myself as an abuser,” she said. “but the message of the perpetrator is this: I have the right to use you to meet my needs.”
Oooooh, that stung.
I knew I was like her: guilty of using my children to meet my needs, especially my eldest daughter. I had confided in her too much; I had leaned on her for sympathy and support.
Rightly so, she felt the pressure of my expectations. Of course, she was intimidated.
And I thought I was the victim.
I was so sorry.
I needed forgiveness and much grace.
From God and from my daughter.
I wrote her a letter, telling how God had used her, the newspaper, and the speaker to show me my sin.
I asked her to forgive me for using her to meet my needs.
She wrote back “Thank you, Mom. Now I feel free to be myself and pursue my own dreams.”
Ah, Sweet Forgiveness. Mercy. Love.
It’s all Grace.
I want to make sure I pack a lot of it into my heart.
I am really looking forward to this trip!