From Susan:"I know it's not THAT papaya.....but I still can't bring myself to try it."
Years ago, I used to love papaya.....
until that fateful afternoon in tropical Costa Rica, when eating a bad papaya made me so weakly dehydrated from food poisoning that I had to suffer the repeated humiliation of being carred to the commode by my new husband.
Even though that was over 30 years ago and I KNOW that today's papaya is not THAT papaya, my stomach still turns in disinterest at the sight of one.
My papaya story has helped me understand how some of our children felt after having suffered great harm at the hands of their first parents; while we know and they know that we are not THOSE parents, the experience of fear and rejection and self-protection often seems woven into their very framework.
And all of these emotions often come to the surface during the teen years, when each of us has to work on figuring out who we are.
One particular day I was surprised to hear these words from my beautiful, outgoing, winsome,16 year-old, "Every day when I look in the mirror I always am wondering...."
"Wondering about what?" I asked.
"Wondering if she every thinks about me and remembers me and wonders how I am doing."
The 'she,' of course, was her Russian mama, whom she had not seen since age 4 when she was taken away from her home by the authorities.
It was during this same time period that outbursts of rage would sometimes arise like an unpredictable thunder storm. I would hear things like,
"You are NOTHING to me! I am going to tear up those x*&$@# adoption papers and you will be NOTHING to me! NOTHING!"
I cried because I felt so deeply saddened and confused and desperate for some comfort from above, and for some wisdom and insight into the cause of such outbursts, and for some leading about how to respond in love.
Only later did I come to understand reflection. She was reflecting what she felt in that mirror: one feeling rejected naturally reflects rejection. And as the mama or daddy, at this moment we can choose to reflect rejection or distance or judgment or anger or disdain BACK to them, OR we can, instead, reflect Jesus' unconditional and indestructible love to them.
In other words, we can respond out of who God is and not out of how we feel (read Ezekiel 20 in the Message!...you will see this 4 times!). When I think about reflecting who God is, I think of being gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
It is as if Jesus is ever whispering to us, "Copy me, not them." It is what Paul says in Ephesians 1 "Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love."
I think of this as attachment reordered. God's love helping me respond rather than react.
Allowing me to reflect Him, not them.
And with time, we are seeing they have this same attachment reordering that I do.....becoming secure in how much God loves them, in spite of the failures of even those they most expected love from.
So how did all this end up?
After years of rebellion, this same child tells me Sunday night, "Mom, you are the person I try to copy!"
Amazing grace....aaammmmaaazzzziiinggg grace!!!!