‘Look to the rock from which you were cut
and to the quarry from which you were hewn.’
My kids went back to school this week. This is actually more momentous than it sounds since for the last three years we have been homeschooling.
I loved homeschooling, as much as it challenged and exhausted me, and the kids loved it too. Spontaneous field trips, creative projects, learning history through different disciplines, math drills on the trampoline! You get the idea. However, our family is in the midst of a divorce. The children’s father didn’t want me to continue schooling them at home, and I can no longer afford to.
So as my two walked off down the path last Wednesday, they were as much filled with anticipation and excitement as sadness and anxiety. The first few days have gone relatively well considering all change is hard. However, the grief at changing their style of schooling is going to take a little longer to overcome.
On the first two evenings, my daughter just plain refused to go back. Not because she hated the school, but because she rejects the change. It’s very painful. I’m the safest repository (aka mum) so I got all the heat. At the end of the second evening of exhausting emotion, I said to my sweet, weeping daughter, “You can call me whatever you like. But the truth is I cannot homeschool you any more. I CAN NOT. So, my love, you can either break yourself against this rock, or stand upon it. Either way, it is not going to change.”
Sometimes it sucks to be Mum. I can’t change their new reality, but I can brace them for it. I can stand with them in it and encourage them that – as He always does and though we cannot see it yet – God will turn all of this change around for our good.
And then I walked inside. And poured myself a glass of wine.
All change is a kind of death isn’t it. And Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ five stages of grief apply across the board, no matter the type of death: the loss of a loved one/a friend/a career/a reputation/prosperity/a way of life/an unrealized dream/one’s health. While Kubler Ross avers that no two people grieve in exactly the same way, she pinpointed five emotions that are most commonly experienced in grief:
And we flail against reality in the midst. Like a shipwreck survivor in high seas seeing a rock to climb upon but just wanting to go back to a ship that is no longer there.
One of my true soul mates died last week. And this is exactly how I have been reacting. She lived in Scotland and I am in LA, so I’m finding it hard to even grasp that it’s true. Then I’m angry that such a spectacular human could die so young. Then I’ve been fantasising about how I could have gone to see her if I’d known – and can’t I go now? My sadness has already brought me low and no doubt will last unbearably for a while and then in perpetuity. Even though I will slowly come to accept that she is gone.
Sarah Jane is still in the denial and anger period over school. And so be it. Why should anyone expect her to just snap out of it? There have been some very crappy changes over the past few years and she has every right to respond however vociferously she wishes. I have let her know that I will only be present for the flailing for a certain length of time, but she must make her choice to stand as she is able.
Truth is a rock. It is hard and unyielding. And it does not change.
For example, death happens. This is true. God didn’t intend us to suffer in this way but, here we are, and He’s given us a hand up onto a Rock that no waves can reach.
I have chosen to stand on that Rock. And that Rock is not an inanimate object or set of rules to live by, but a person. A person I know, chat with, question, hangout with, rail against, and listen to.
And while I’m standing on that rock, I remind myself from whence I came. That I was in the sea. I saw truth but I wanted back on the sinking boat. Until, weary and at the end of my own strength, I spotted the hand extended to me, and I met its owner, and I climbed onto a rock.
This was my journey. Not yours. You have all the same choices I have to make, how you make them is nothing to do with me.
Paul exhorts us to speak the truth in love to those in whom we are in relationship. This doesn’t mean just speaking it anytime even if I think my intention is loving. In my experience, silence can actually be more powerful and loving than anything that could be said. Sometimes your kid has to eat the whole bag of candy and throw up to realize he never wants to do that again, himself. He has discovered something to be true, I didn’t tell him the truth.
I didn’t shield my daughter from the truth of her situation, that could not have been loving. I spoke the truth to her in love, and because I am in a relationship with her which gives me the right to do so. I just pray she stops bashing herself against it soon.
Isn’t all truth that is actually heard founded in relationship? Quite beside the fact that speaking the truth without love invokes a nightmare. It’s a rock, it’s hard and it can HURT LIKE HELL. Not only to the one spoken to but to the speaker themselves.
So here is where this is leading. The story this week about Kim Davis has obviously provoked debate. Not to promote further discussion, but here’s my tuppeny worth. If you understand yourself to be standing safely on a rock (and even if you were on your own turf and not in your place of employment), how can it be constructive (aka loving) to pick up a hard pebble at your feet and hurl it at those whom you consider to be in the sea?
I think I’d prefer to drown or look for a different passing ship, if I were them.