Her hair was a tousled mess on the top of her head. She wore only the pink and white striped undies she slept in and the insulin pump connected to her hip. With her thumb she pressed the button through the Hello Kitty pouch to make the pump screen light up. She announced dramatically in a loud whisper - my pump says it's 7:05! Is that true?! How is that even possible?! It's still dark outside!
A grin spread across her face as I explained it was, in fact, true and the clouds had covered the morning sun. She danced lightly on tip toe and said something about how she should have known because her tummy was hungry for breakfast.
As she skipped back down the hallway to find some clothes I sat on the couch feeling like I had just been the audience for a highly acclaimed Broadway performance. I was delighted by her. If that show had started while I was still blurry-eyed in bed my response probably would have been totally different. Thankfully, on that particular day I had resisted the 'snooze' button and drug myself out of bed early just as I intend to do every day. It's my chance to get may head and my heart right before they need me. It's the difference in me feeling enchanted versus exasperated with her, with them, my little people.
Barely a minute passed before she returned in her purple silk Rapunzel gown with her sewing kit in hand. Ready to begin...
If I'm not ready to begin before she's ready to begin, the day always turns out differently. Within seconds of her eyes opening, her mouth opens too. And then it rarely closes. Between eating and talking she is a busy girl. Her brother is slower to start. Quiet and observant at times. Sometimes it seems that 99.9% of Lucy's waking hours are filled with words.
She completely fills the space around her.
Light does that - reaches out into all the emptiness offering color and life.
I told the lady at the wedding - her name is Lucy. It means light.
My cousin got married last month and just as the ceremony concluded someone sitting behind us tapped me on the shoulder and asked, with a smile,
Is that your daughter?
She is beautiful.
I felt the burn of tears surfacing in the corners of my eyes.
Thank you, I said with a smile.
I was just watching the way she sat with you, held your hands, and the way her face lights up when she talks to you.
That's when I told her Lucy's name and what it means. In that moment the tear was set free down my cheek. The woman's eyes glistened too as her smile widened. At the time I couldn't have explained why a two minute interaction with a stranger was so significant to me - so holy. I'm still not sure, but here's my suspicion.
That child is not easy. Others have witnessed much different scenes - both of us looking more ugly, than beautiful amidst tears and tantrums. There were days when I was literally fighting for a relationship with her. There has been tension between us. I have looked at her and seen myself as a failure. But I love her fiercely. There is no lukewarm love for a child like that. She demands more. She also offers more.
Although her words said something else, their meaning told me this -
I see the two of you together and it is beautiful. There is something in the way you relate to one another that is lovely to witness. It is something noticeable, something special. I see love there.
It was the sweet feeling of victory I felt in that moment. The child who rarely said I love you to me the first four years of her life. The child who shot me looks of anger more than looks of love. That same child now climbs up on my lap during a movie - or a wedding ceremony - and weaves her fingers into mine and gets as close to me as she possibly can and whispers softly I love you mama. That same child at bedtime will ask for more hugs and more kisses and more snuggle time in the bed. She will shout as I pull her door closed - I love you more than chocolate!
Maybe you have a tough kid. Maybe you have some other tough relationship. Maybe you feel like there is an impenetrable wall between you and someone you desperately want to love well. Maybe it feels all wrong. Maybe the relationship isn't at all what you imagined it would be. It's so darn hard.
Listen to me.
Don't give up.
I can't tell you when and I can't tell you how, but if God gives you someone difficult to love, somehow and some way love will penetrate the wall - maybe even dissolve it to the ground. The past seven years I have spent learning how to love her well - with His love, not my own. I have prayed grace over all the times I've messed it up. It has been a battle - emotionally and spiritually.
Daily I choose not to fight with her, but to fight for her. And I never give up.
That has made all the difference. That kind of fighting has led to victory. So, keep fighting the good fight friends. Victory is coming.
Right now I am offering a free guide - Hope for Hard Relationships. It includes a fun downloadable print to give you daily hope in the hard places.
Join our little Words and Wonder tribe below and I will send it along to you!