Monday, January 9, 2012

Grace Both Ways

i am living with a teenager. 
i am raising that teenager.
that teenager didn't really act like a "teenager" until
a few months ago. 
my teenager will me 17 on Sunday...
(in a few days you better believe i'll be doing a "birthday post" on her, get ready) 
how does that happen? she is one year, one year from being
being a legal adult. in just one year many many things are going to be changing; being able to go to rated R movies on her own is not the half of it. HA
 i had no idea that was even possible when
i was feeding her a bottle 16 and a half years ago.
so here her and i are, my daughter and i. this is new year's eve. we are smiling and look really happy, right?
{don't get me wrong, we are and were happy this night and have a wonderful healthy relationship, but. . .}

the truth is, new year's eve was a nice break from all the stress, tears and drama between us.
we have a lot of history together. i raised this girl alone until she was 7, and from then on, i've done most of the parenting. my husband and i decided that that was what would work best for our family. 
needless to say we are very close, and i've labored extremely hard to bring her up in the most beautiful way possible. and that's a whole other post. soon.
but today i want to talk about how we wouldn't be where we are today if it weren't for grace.
the best way i've ever heard grace described is it's 
u n d e s e r v e d  k i n d n e s s .
i mean honestly my daughter and i are in the thick of it. we are in "those teenage years." she isn't drinking or having sex, or having mental issues, but they are our issues nonetheless. 
and it's far from easy. 
everyday we have found ourselves irritable toward one another, angry, frustrated, snapping, rudeness. . .any quality as far from the example of Jesus you can think of as far as tone and response in the day to day.
we have been under this sort of stress for a few months. we butt heads, disagree, and get defensive. 
i have felt like i am doing it all wrong as a mother, and she has felt like she's the worst kid on earth. we aren't use to this kind of friction. 
we know we don't want to hurt one another like this, and we've agreed that grace, big time, needs to go both ways more than ever right now. 
i have never been too proud as a parent to know that i need forgiveness, that i need grace from my child. i am human too and mess up and fall short, and i am desperate for her grace just as much as she is for mine.

grace for us has meant that we realize and accept that we are in a difficult phase, and we aren't use to it, but that we know we love one another and that we will extend the hand of letting "that one" go. . .
we will extend the hand of  "I know we don't agree but let's find a compromise or figure this out together."
we will extend the hand of " I didn't understand you, but can we find a new way to communicate?"
 and we will extend the hand of it's ok, i understand you are frustrated. . .
 we will extend the hand of i understand that there are lots of hormones involved. . .
we will extend the hand of moving on and moving forward and not holding on to all that we've "done wrong"...
we will move forward with extended hands and hold one another in gentleness knowing that we are having growing pains, and that it shall not bind us to bitterness and hatred, and that
we can provide the better choice of grace to one another because God so freely gives it to us, minute by minute. 

we will remember in the moments of this last year and a half that we will make the wiser choice out of love to give grace because we both so desperately need it. we will pardon one another because we love one another too much to be angry for too long. because if that happens, when that happens, bitterness and isolation kick in, and we do not want that. we choose grace and say:
 "It's ok, I was hurt, it didn't feel good the way you talked to me, or what you did, but let's move on, because I love you and I know we are in a trying time, it's OK I still love you and I forgive you because we all fall short."
we don't want to live in ugliness of the heart. we understand that emotions can take over, and that it's a natural process as she is getting ready to leave the nest. we take into account that this is just a season, and that if we are both under grace, we can start anew, each morning, even if we have to extend grace 100 times in one day, it's better than the alternative, like not speaking to one another for days, or throwing our bad behaviors in one another's face, or name calling, which Satan would love.

we realize that moment by moment, both ways, we need grace. i can not, 
for one second 
imagine our lives
with 
out 
it 
right
now.
or 
ever.
we have learned together that grace is not some over-used mundane word that has lost it's meaning. we have learned it's vitality, and it's necessity. we have come to see that it is a beautiful choice, a better alternative and a free act of the will. 
we have seen that it's because we choose God, that we choose grace.
we have clung to this word like we can not live without it. it literally makes us new.



16 comments:

Noelani said...

This is a beautiful post :) The photo of you and her is darling. She looks just like her gorgeous mama :)

ruth@gracelaced said...

Oh Gina--motherhood is beyond any of us, and God's grace is so so sufficient for even the times when we think we just can't do it well. Thanks so much for your humble heart.

(sorry about the button trouble. I think I finally got the code right on my blog.)

stephanie said...

soaking up all your wisdom for the future teenage years with my daughter! i hope they take a very long time to get here though!!

Natalie said...

Such a beautiful post on motherhood Gina! Loved it!

Erin said...

Truly speechless!! Amazing!

Shane said...

She is beautiful and looks just like her mama!

chambanachik said...

I so love and admire your honesty.

N. said...

Great post! I hope I can always work so hard to do right by my daughter and that she will be able to understand it's all done in love, even when feelings are hurt, or something doesn't go right too.
Loved the picture of you two together!

Vale ♥ said...

You and your daughter are both gorgeous and that pic is lovely...and about your post, is so true, sincere, moving. I had a similar relationship with my mother, I am no teenager anymore (unfortunately ! Ha !) but we still have big fights, shout, say anything to each other...yet she's my best friend and she's always been there for me. Our bond will never break and this we both know it. I suppose a mother-daughter relationship is always somehow difficult, but it's so beautiful !

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Vivian said...

Are you sure you have only one teenager? Because it looks to me like there are at least two in your household ;) Such beautiful post!

Tamera Beardsley said...

What a blessing to you both... grace both ways! You are both so very lucky to have each other!

Emily Rose said...

Happy birthday to your daughter! What a beautiful young lady.:) Wonderful post. It just settles right in your heart.

Erin said...

Loved this post. :) I love the idea of Grace both ways! :) SO true and SO important! :)

Courtney said...

This is lovely... You are both gorgeous! And I LOVE hearing of good relationships between mothers and their daughters.

The Soul Anchor said...

Your daughter is beautiful!

From a daughter's perspective, I am really empathize with this post. I was an only child and I was homeschooled. I spent a LOT of time with my mom and we are super close and I love her ohsomuch! But I STILL went through the normal teenage rebellion of butting heads, testing waters, wanting my way, etc etc.

I'm so happy that my mother and I have cultivated a real friendship now that I'm in my 20s. Yesterday I was stressing over my fertility issues with my mom and she told me her fertility story and how deeply it ran and how the month I was conceived was literally her last chance after 10 years of trying before doctors would call her infertile. I had to fight back tears while listening to my mother because now, not only was I able to identify with her as a fellow woman trying to conceive, but I understood more fully now just how deeply my mother wanted me and begged God for me and how special I was to her. It made me feel guilty for all the grief I'd caused her growing up, all the rebellion of being a teenager. I apperciated her in a new way -- I saw her with new eyes.

It sounds like you and your daughter are headed down that same path. And being 17, she still has a lot more growing and learning to do. Your friendship is still growing and deepening and it is DEFINITELY that God given grace that's going to get the two of you there. <3

denise* paper angels said...

wow :) you are one amazing mom!! :) gina i just wanted to say that you are an incredible woman of God. and im sure your daughter will follow in your footsteps.

my friends always reminded me that how children act towards people in authority sometimes reflects how we act towards God. though teachers and parents love their kids and want the best for them, sometimes the younger ones don't always see and understand it (and often for very good reasons too.) so the next time i was tempted to lose my patience with a child/teen, i was reminded that i've been so much worse to God and yet He has responded with nothing but grace and more grace. :)

xx