My Dearest Sister,
While in my father’s house, you asked a very challenging question, a question I could not answer at the time. I was barely able to process the issue at hand that had rapidly escalated your volume to maximum. The shake of your body and the choice of your words stopped my brain and sank my freshly broken heart further than I thought it could possibly go. In the midst of my grief, you heaped weight upon my already crushing burden.
I have had a few weeks to think on our most recent encounter. It hasn’t been easy to process in light of the loss of my mother just two days before the last time we spoke. With the help of a dear friend, who always does her best to guide me in the Word, even if it isn’t what I want to hear; I think I am ready to speak.
You asked me these simple but very loaded questions, “Would you like it if I made decisions for your children? Who are you to decide for my child?”
My response is this. I would never be okay with you making a decision for my children at any point in their life. I would never be okay with my husband making decisions for my children at any point in their life. I would never be okay with myself, my father, or any other human being on the planet making decisions for my children at any point in their life.
Once that sinks in, allow me to elaborate. My children’s lives belong to them and no one else. I, nor anyone else has the right to choose anything for them at any time. There are only two people that ever have any say in their life – God and themselves. I am their parent, not their dictator. I am a “steward” of the precious, one-of-a-kind gift that God has placed in my life, I am not their commander. My one and only job is to guide them and teach them of the Word of God so that they may be saved and make wise, upright choices that further the Kingdom of Heaven. It is not to control them, or dictate what they will and will not do. It is not to demand they be who I want them to be. It is not to manipulate surroundings so that they only come in contact and have relationships with those I deem “worthy” based on my own finite understandings of the world around me.
That being said, I am very aware that these words are extremely easy to say. My children are only 9 and 6 and I have not even begun to experience the craziness that comes with teenage children. My children are not adults either, so I have yet to experience the cold fingers of fear as I watch them stumble and fall. I am fully aware that these things I believe are simple when the child is young and challenging as they grow and become more and more of the person God intended them to be. Difficult or not though, it is where I stand and it is how I live my life with ALL people, not just my own children.
Which leads me to your second question, “Who am I to decide for your child?” I am no one. I am not his steward, because I am not his mother. I am however a person he has chosen to have a relationship with; and in many respects biblically, I am considered an elder in his life, as is his Grandfather. I feel confident in this statement given the choices I have watched him make and been a part of personally: your son has chosen these positions for us. I can guarantee you, that at this point in his life, I have never, ever made a decision for him, and I absolutely never will. I have always given him a choice and I have always respected his choice regardless of how I felt about it.
Regarding the issue at hand, even in that awful situation, I did not choose for him. There were only a few roads either of us could have chosen to use. Your son and I operated within these limitations. Had he told me to wait for his phone call, I would have. He could have borrowed a friend’s phone and called, instead of waiting for his phone to arrive in the mail. Or he even could have chosen to Skype with me. I contacted him out of respect for his relationship with his grandmother. And he chose how to respond and in what venue the conversation commenced. The only choice I made, was to have compassion and empathy for a young adult, newly on his own, far away from family and friends. I chose to think how he might feel finding out too late that his grandmother had passed.
When he chose to come home I was elated. When he chose to divide his time up the way he did, I was sad. In my grief, I wanted very much to be selfish. I wanted very much to demand of his time and tell him how I felt he should have spent it. I wanted very much to tell him it wasn’t fair, that we wanted more, that we should have gotten more. I did not tell him these things because it is his life to live and his choice how he spent the very short 5 days he had at home. It is not my place to tell him how to divide his time, or manipulate his emotions to give me what I want, or simply create situations that give him no choice but to do things my way. Could I have expressed my feelings? Yes, I could have, but I choose not to and I am okay with that. In the bigger picture, my little feelings were not of importance. What was important was grieving with my nephew in our own unique way, and allowing him space to grieve in his unique way. So again, I did not choose for your son.
After all of this, may I dare say, that you are not angry that I “made a decision” for your adult child? You are angry that I destroyed your control over the situation. You are frustrated that things did not go the way you believed that they should. You are angry that I did not agree with you. And I think part of you is angry, that despite all that is between you and I, he still chooses to have a relationship with me (and Grandpa).
With Great Pain,
Your Discarded Sister