Along with my daughter Kathleen, I was sitting in a meeting yesterday with the school counsellor, because a few teachers want to address the issue of Kathleen’s anxiety levels, as they called it.
Kathleen doesn’t believe she is as anxious as they label her as being. She doesn’t like talking before others – one of the greatest fears known to man, I believe – and I don’t blame her for that, especially as she doesn’t have a close relationship or connection with either her peers or her teachers, but she does not agree that she is as anxious as they've envisioned her to be.
Neither does Kathleen believe she is shy. I, on the other hand - who grew up under the banner of “shy” - recognise many of the symptoms and also declared her to be that way.
So, is she as anxious as the teachers say she is? Is she as shy as mum reckons she is…? In response to those questions, prior to the counselling session I would have had to say “Yes, she is…” However, afterwards, I say, “No, she’s not… and she knew it.”
The reason my opinion upon such matters has been altered so drastically is due to the revelation that struck me during the meeting: Kathleen and her insecurities are not the issue, or the problem… Me and my insecurities are.
The simple fact is I do life afraid. Many of my comings and goings, interactions and lack thereof are all connected to, and built on, my fears. But I only realised yesterday just how much my fears influence the lives of those around me. In fact, I only realised just yesterday how much of a hold they still had on me. Believe me, I've been set free of a lot of fear - but obviously I have still carried some of it with me. And now God thinks we're ready for me to get rid of that bit, too...
The truth that so clearly came to me yesterday, that woke me up from my stupor – as it feels – brought with it an image of the incredible strength and beauty of my daughter, which went on to open my eyes to the incredible strength and beauty and love of my three youngest children.
Let it be known, before I continue, that in referring to the love of my three youngest children, I am in no way denying the love of my first born, Amanda. Amanda is of a different time than my youngest three. She was born into different circumstances and, along with Tim’s two older daughters, she was able to break free of my shadow while I was busy changing nappies with the other three - who were born within three years of each other. By the time Kathleen was born, Amanda was nearing her teen years and, along with Amy and Brooke (who are both older than Amanda) she was able to fly free of the nest while I wasn’t looking, basically.
Back to the younger three:
Long story short, I clearly saw, through the truth that comes from God to set us free – when we are strong enough, or open enough, to handle it – was that my little girl, who is 16 but still looks as though she’s 12, instinctively knew that mum was living life afraid. She somehow knew that if she were to step out of my shadow, or away from my side, she would leave me on my own, and she couldn’t do that.
With very clear eyes, I saw that the strong soul that is my “little girl” sacrificed her life and personality in so many ways in order to not leave me on my own. To put it more clearly: I was crippled and Kathleen was my nurse. She nursed me through my “illness”, my disabilities, not begrudgingly, not with fanfare, not wanting or seeking any reward or attention for it, because she loves me. And she loved me more than she did herself. She willingly laid down her life for me. This explains why she is so advanced in so many ways, yet still so young in other ways. She remained young, or she remained 'the baby', for mum's sake... while maturing in other ways at the same time. She's a very intelligent and wise girl.
After seeing this oh so clearly, and knowing in my heart it is true, and sensing that awaiting freedom that comes with the truth God delivers, I looked and saw my boys loved me exactly the same way.
Haven’t you ever wondered why they are all so close to me? As a family unit? To their dad? Haven’t you ever wondered why my boys – presently 19 and 17 – never pulled away from me during their teen years? It’s not because of their insecurities, it’s not because they’re not capable of handling the world and all that the world throws at them. It’s not because they’re shy. It’s because they have this amazing capacity to love and they used it to keep mum feeling safe and secure. Pathetic on my part, perhaps, but simply amazing on theirs. I am in awe...
This is why my children don’t fight with each other. This is why my children do not rebel against their mum and dad: Because they love… And in their ability to love so greatly, they have sacrificed and not once complained. Not once.
Some may say that I am seeing my kids through the eyes of a mum – and in a sense you’re right, because I am in a position, as ‘mum’, for God to open my eyes to such things. I am also seeing their true selves, who they really are, for the very first time. God has move beyond the limited vision of this mum and showed me a greater part of the hearts these amazing people possess. If it were not so, I would not be sharing these things, for to do so is to bring my failings and greatest weakness into the light – and of these things I am so not proud.
I mean, I’ve always told myself I would never live my life through my children. That’s one of the statements I clung to in allowing Amanda (now 28) to spread her wings and fly as freely as she does. Yet, that’s what I’ve done. Because of my crippling fears (which are nowhere near as overwhelming as they used to be, by the way) I have lived my life through my kids. And I regret that with all I am. Yet, now, in this humbled place I’m in, I thank God that He brought me here, to this position, in order for me to see just how incredible these human beings – which He placed in my care – are.
God opened my eyes to the truth of these things. God opened my eyes to the incredible love my children possess. And He did so not to simply say, “Wow, aren’t they great!” – which they obviously are – but also to free my children of my shadow, so they can go on to live their own lives, and so I will stop living my life through my children and I would walk free of fear once and for all. He's basically said, "Donna, you are free; get up and walk... and let your kids walk, too..." Now, I am willing to do just that... especially because I have been so humbled by the magnificence of the love these three hold for me. How very patient they have been...
It’s so true that Jesus Christ died to set us free and heal us. It’s so true that God’s truth sets free. It’s so true that the Holy Spirit not only searches the deep things of God and makes them known to us, but also knows us better than we know ourselves… And it’s so true that I am an incredibly blessed Mum!
~ Kathleen ~
A young woman with quiet strength...