Blimey. It never rains but it pours, hey. As Shakespeare said,
'When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.'
Hamlet Act IV scene 5
Is there anything in the Bible along those lines? Possibly Proverbs? I'll look into it.
We've got an appointment to see the new doctor who'll be looking after Katy over at the children's hospital next week. In the last few days I've had appointments with doctors, nurses and dentists and I feel a bit as if I'm falling apart. In a physical, literal sort of sense. Bits of me don't work properly. Last night the children behaved badly at bedtime and I confess, so did I, in a angry and shouty sort of way, and we all ended up in tears. Katy crept onto my lap and whispered 'Sorry Mummy' and we had a cuddle. Lizzie handed me a note that told me that she knew in her heart that I didn't love her.
I went to pieces. It was late, I was very tired, it had been a hard day. I wasn't feeling well. My tooth ached. The children were being horrible.
My oldest daughter told me that she thought I didn't love her. She said that she could see it in my face and she could hear it in my shouts.
I don't think anything has hurt me so much in a long time. It took my breath away. A tidal wave of feelings overtook me. Intense emotional pain. Guilt. Despair. Shame. Fear. Self-pity. More guilt. I had been so angry with them. They wouldn't listen. More bath water ended up on the floor than in the bath. They wouldn't be still so that I could brush teeth. They wouldn't get into their pyjamas. They were silly, then they fought with each other. I narrowed my eyes and I glared and I shouted. We all cried. Katy came for cuddles and Lizzie hit back.
She hit her target, I think. I didn't know what to do. I struggled to find words. Me! I talked with her and I hugged her but she wouldn't look at me and just kept saying, 'It doesn't feel like you love me.' Then she asked me if I'd mend a toy that she'd broken earlier. She didn't want to talk about it.
Lord, does she really not know that I love her? I'm so, so sorry. She and Katy are the most important, most precious things in my life. I've said to them over and over how much I love them, that I love them even when I'm cross with them. I've said I'm sorry for shouting and I've told them that Mummy doesn't always get it right. What am I to do when they are impossible? I know, not shout. Not throw the towel on the floor.
Sigh. I need to pull myself together. I know that she's six, and perhaps she doesn't understand the power of her words, but nevertheless, they broke my heart. I know the difference between conviction and condemnation and I'm still working on which this is. Both, perhaps. I know that I should have had more self control, more patience, more kindness. But I love my girls to the end of the world. I have never, ever, felt like such a complete failure as a mother.
She told me that she didn't think I loved her.
I have tears welling up just thinking about it.
So after a terrible evening full of tears and worries and regrets I went to bed. Best thing to do. I read a bit of a book by Max Lucado about Easter. It's called He Chose the Nails: What God did to win your heart. It has a chapter in it that tells a story of a young girl who turns away from her father to go her own way. It speaks about rebellion and how we have all at some point rejected your love.
It made me think.
Now, this is where I don't know if you spoke to me through the few pages of this book that I read last night, or if my imagination was working overtime, or if I'm even making any sense, really, but it occurred to me that I might have hurt you just like Lizzie hurt me.
Have I ever told you, 'It doesn't feel as if you love me?'
All the time.
Recently, I've been asking (or rather, not asking, as I haven't really been talking to you that much, have I?) whether you love me enough to look after my Katy. I've wondered if I can trust you if 'your will' might not be to my liking. After all, you do allow people to die, don't you? People who love you lose people they love, don't they? Bad things happen to good people, don't they?
So I know that I have doubted your love. Perhaps I never stamped my foot or wrote you a hurtful little note, but you knew it was in my heart.
'It doesn't feel as if you love me.'
Sometimes, it doesn't.
But, like me with my beautiful little girl, maybe it doesn't mean that you don't.
So what is there to say?
Lord, I don't know if this analogy goes any further; Lizzie and Katy had been badly behaved at bedtime and I lost my temper. I don't think that you're punishing me for something with all the stuff that I have on my plate at the moment. Health issues, Katy's health issues, (and now Lizzie's health issues, as she's been home today with gastro-enteritis, poor love). Yesterday I had done some nice things for people. I'd been helpful and thoughtful and done my best. I wasn't looking for a disaster at bedtime. Katy's been having nightmares and I'm a bit sleep deprived. I was vulnerable and I lost control and it all went wrong.
Lizzie didn't feel like I loved her.
Poor darling. I do. I do. I love her so, so much. But life doesn't always permit me to smile and let it go. Her behaviour was terrible. I shouldn't have shouted, but I didn't deserve that little note, did I?
I don't always feel as if you love me.
Are you saying, 'I do. I do. I love you so, so much'? Do I have the power to hurt you, God?
I'm so sorry. You shower me with blessings and I doubt that you love me. Things don't go my way and so I become petulant and spiteful. I might wrap it up with more sophisticated phraseology but what I mean is,
Sometimes I don't feel as if you love me.
I know that you do. I just want to feel it more. I like feelings. I like it when I feel you smile at me. I like it when things go my way.
Elizabeth likes those things too, and I love to give them to her. There's nothing I love more than to see her happy little face and feel her affection and make her happy. There really isn't. But she's unlikely to get them when she's naughty.
Now I don't mean that I'm proud of the shouting and the towel flinging and the angry face because I'm not. It wasn't good. But I wonder if I'm just as bad.
Father, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for hurting my little girl and I'm sorry for hurting you.
Make it alright, will you, Lord? Please?
I wrote Elizabeth a note last night. I said I'm sorry that we were cross with each other and I'm sorry I shouted. I said I'm sorry she didn't feel I loved her but that I do love her so, so much. She didn't mention it but I know that she read it. Today I spent much of the day with my arms wrapped round her as she felt poorly. I held her when she was sick and I sat with her when she was in the bathroom ill with cramps. I have stroked her hair and read stories and kissed her over and over. I would go to the end of the earth for her.
You sit with me when I cry in my sleep. You give me strength to wait for my daughter when she is in surgery. You have touched me with love when I needed it most. I shouldn't doubt you.
Lizzie knows that I love her. I'm sure she does. I will try harder to make sure that she doesn't doubt it.
I know that you love me. I'm sorry if I hurt you. If it was anything like that note last night it hurt an awful lot.
I have forgiven Lizzie.
I hope that she has forgiven me.
I hope that she has forgiven me.
Thankyou for second chances. And the ones after that.
Heal us, Lord. Heal us when we hurt each other.