Freedom to Walk the Hard Stuff – Thanks to {Dad}

My husband shared with me that one of his students had skipped a grade.

I chuckled as I recounted the time my principal had offered to let me skip a grade as well.

Fourth grade.

I remember talking about it with my dad… and concluding that I would not skip fourth grade… in order to stay with my friends.

And stay smart.

I mean, if I skipped an entire grade… wouldn’t I miss important information that would help me do well in fifth grade? Were they trying to set me up to fail?

Well, maybe not, but as a little ‘ol third grader, I had some good rationale (if I don’t say so myself). I continued on as normal.

What struck me for the first time last night was this:

Fourth grade was one of the most difficult grades of my entire life… because of relationships (not academics).

It was the year that all the girls in my class chanted “Nark, nark, Nark!” at me on the softball field.

It was the year I stopped being girly.

It was the year I stopped hanging out with the girls.

It was the year the boys took me in…

And it stayed that way for the next TWENTY years!

A year that affected twenty years of my life… in really deep and meaningful ways.

Who knew?

If only my dad would’ve said, “Marcy… you are going to skip a grade,” instead of giving me a choice.

If only, in his experience and wisdom, he’d said, “Darling, I’m going to spare you the travesties of bullies, humiliation, and a life of misunderstanding female relationships. Let’s skip this year.”

But he didn’t.

In His tender love… he allowed me to walk through a fourth grade valley.

Because it was also in this year that I learned to be a voice for the voiceless. An advocate for the underdog.

It’s probably why I’m a professional Counselor today.

Because he let me suffer. He let me experience pain. Turmoil. Hurt.

To understand, through experience, the suffering of others.

To offer them the comfort that he embraced me with during that year… to say, “I know how you feel… I’ll be your friend.”

Because he didn’t just let me walk it alone… like some cruel, heartless dad.

He walked it with me. Holding my hand. Knowing that the wounds of this year would become the fertilizer for something beautiful.

Friendships with women that I appreciate all the more because of the years that found it lacking.

A soul connection with other sufferers of injustice.

A healthy sense of what I want in women friends… and the knowledge that it does exist, even if it must be searched out.

And it’s worth it.

My dad taught me that love is, sometimes, to let someone walk through the hard stuff.

Not to rescue them from it for our own comfort. Only to cause them to miss some of the most beautiful lessons of life.

Lessons that don’t easily fade with time, distractions, or new endeavors.

But lessons that stick all the while… shaping us into better people, better humans because of them.

That fourth grade year was hard. It’s not a year I’d like to repeat.

But it’s a year I refuse to un-do.

Thank you, dad! For loving me so much that you let me experience the heart of other sufferers! With my hand in yours, your eyes on mine, guiding me through the sorrows and aches… to become a lover of the unloved because of my own journey!

May I be this same kind of mother… a mom who allows my children to experience the fullness of life, sorrows and all… not quenching it because of my own heart-pain on their behalves. But that love would win out and we would be a better planet for it. That with tenderness, affection, and comfort I could journey those paths with them, hand in hand, us and my dad…

And may you know that hand of dad too… as you walk through pain and suffering… to know that it’s love that leads you there, guides you through it, lets the hard stuff matter, un-wasted. Un-alone.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my  head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalms 23:4-6

To learn more about 31 Days in 2012 or view other 31 Dayers blogs, click here.

I’m spending 31 days writing about my confessions and the lessons {Dad} has taught me. This is day 23 of 31 Days in 2012.

Bully-Beating Thoughts

You can do many things with your mind. With your thoughts. It would take a whole book, I’m sure, to sum up the many nuances of our brain and how it can affect our reality.

I was confronted with the power of thoughts again today- in a very empowering and perhaps even miraculous way.

Here’s a little back story.

My oldest son has lived with us for 4 years. His adoption was finalized a year and a half ago. Previous to that, he was our foster son. He missed 8 very important years of quality education, stability in his home, and the brain-training that occurs in those first five years. This, along with his personality, has made school very difficult. We have had him tested for learning disabilities, attended therapy sessions, tried home schooling, independent study, after school tutoring, after school programs… you name it, if it was offered we tried it. He came to us performing at two grade levels behind his actual grade. In those four years he has progressed considerably. In some subjects he is performing at the lowest level of his actual grade. In other subjects, he’s performing at the higher end of the grade below him.

We finally came to the conclusion, along with his school’s administration, that repeating his sixth grade year would be in his best interest.

This was not an easy decision.

But we believe it was the right one.

We shared this whole process with him. He agreed that having an extra year to really catch up would be beneficial in the long wrong. Did he like the idea? No. Who does? But he “bought in” and was willing to own it and give it a go. This, we all hope, will give him the chance to catch up educationally as well as emotionally and in maturity.

End of backstory.

Today is his second day of his second year in sixth grade.

As I drove him to school I asked about yesterday. Day one.

“How was your day?” I asked

“It was good!” he said, sounding very genuine.

“Did anyone say anything about you being back?”

“Yeah,” he said, “there’s a boy who teased me quite a bit about it. He’s in my class and he kept making surprised faces at me. He also kept telling the other kids in class that I was held back- as if they couldn’t tell.”

“Wow. I thought you said you had a good day. How was it good with all that going on?” I wondered aloud to him.

He went on to tell me about a book that we are very familiar with. It is called “You Are Special” by Max Lucado. It is one of our many (many) children’s books.

Here is the Amazon synopsis:

“Every day the small wooden people called Wemmicks do the same thing: stick either gold stars or gray dots on one another. The pretty ones–those with smooth wood and fine paint–always get stars. The talented ones do, too. Others, though, who can do little or who have chipped paint, get ugly gray dots. Like Punchinello.

In this heartwarming children’s tale from the best-selling pen of author Max Lucado, Eli the woodcarver helps Punchinello understand how special he is–no matter what other Wemmicks may think. It’s a vital message for children everywhere: that regardless of how the world evaluates them, God cherishes each of them, just as they are.”

When Punchinello meets his creator, Eli the woodcarver, and comes to see himself as special and unique… the stickers he has acquired begin to fall off. When the other wood people try to stick more on him… they don’t stick! Punchinello isn’t swayed by popular opinion of himself- he knows who he is! A creation with purpose.

This is the story my son reminded me of this morning.

“Our teacher read it to us in class. And it’s true. The things that mean kid says don’t matter to me. They just roll off.” (Thanks Mrs. Platt!!!!)

This was especially beautiful in light of our last couple of weeks with this child… which have been challenging to say the least. He has so many amazing qualities and gifts and talents- and it’s easy to forget just how great he is when I’m only focussed on all the dots.

And I’ve been known to be a giver of dots and stars.

And I’ve been known to wear dots and stars around- in pride and in shame.

But not today. My son has reminded me that when we choose to believe and know that we are someone special- that God has made us for purposes far greater than any human can label for us- then nothing anyone says matters. Our Creator longs to share with us the many reasons we are who we are- and how we can be used to better our world, ourselves, and His Kingdom.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. – Isaiah 26:3

You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. — Psalm 139: 1-16

Will you let the opinions of others stick to YOU today?