Lately I have been struggling with guilt and condemnation. We are working through Grace in our recovery group, so of course it draws up all the nasty reasons in my heart of why I shouldn’t be worthy of God’s grace. Today is a particularly bad day as I have struggled all week in my relationship with Ruthie. In referring to the list I have on my kitchen cabinet, I am ashamed to admit that I have been self-important, rude, self-seeking, easily angered, and a holder of grudges.
I am an unpredictable parent – I will be loving, patient, and attentive, then out of the blue I respond to something Ruthie says or does with anger and irritation that is way more exaggerated than the offense calls for. I take it personally. I am irritated that Ruthie does not always do the right thing. I am exasperated at being inconvenienced by her disobedience.
But not all the time.
Many times I respond correctly: I am patient, I am kind, I shepherd, I correct. But other times I am not, and it kills me that Ruthie cannot count on me to be consistent in my response to her. I have failed in all the ways that Love Is, and feeling this way after being in this damn recovery program for over a year, it seems like crawling into a dark hole with a bottle of gin is the only real consolation.
[blink. blink. blink.]
Now that I have written these words, and stare at them in front of me, and ponder them for several minutes, I begin to feel a wash of peace. These are irrational thoughts, I know, but sometimes it takes me getting them out of my head to see them for what they really are. I am no longer sobbing ridiculously, and I can see a glimpse of the flip side of this coin.
I am no stranger to the dysfunction of a parent/child relationship, for I’ve had my own troubles and insecurities with my biological father. I struggled throughout my childhood and teen years, wondering what my place was in his life and doubting that he really cared about me. And today, after many difficult conversations over many years, we are reconciled, and I am at peace in my relationship with him. And more importantly, I am able to see how my journey through those issues (and my continuous maintenance of them) matured me and shaped me. They are part of my DNA.
I find that when I have days and weeks like this, I see every false move I make in direct proportion to the number of hours Ruthie will spend in therapy or in an unhealthy relationship or hating me or contemplating her own demise. I blame myself for all her future dysfunction before it even happens, and therefore I walk under a cloud of guilt and condemnation because the story is over before it’s even begun.
I have not allowed for Grace.
Ruthie will have her own journey to walk, and her mother’s dysfunction is part of that DNA. I have to trust that God’s grace will extend to her, as well, and shore up her strength to spend many long hours over many years in conversation with me so that we can maintain reconciliation.
That is not meant to give me license, but to give me peace. God began writing her story in my womb. He knew her before the stars were made. Trusting him is how grace sneaks in.