There is a day in all our lives, after we've spent years being told what to do and when to do it, we want to live our lives that way WE want. Sometimes, we grow into it gracefully. Sometimes, it requires making a bold stand. The latter was the case with my daughter--or so she thought.
The year was 2008. My daughter was in her senior year of high school. I was so proud of her. There was a time when she didn't know if she would survive her struggles to make it this far. I never lost faith that she would indeed overcome the incredible odds set against her from years of abuse that led to self-abuse and a plethora of bad choices.
It was about 10:00 p.m. one cold night in early January, when came a knock on the door of my mother's home (where we were living at the time and for whom I was caring for) by two deputy sheriff officers. My first thought was of near panic to think what might be wrong and with whom. Those fears were quickly settled into sheer disbelief when it was announced that my daughter had brought her boyfriend, dad and dad's girlfriend to collect her things. She announced she was moving in with her dad. With only four months left of high school before graduation. Unbelievable. On top of that, my mother was no less shaken by this impudent and downright rudely executed intrusion of her home.
As soon as I could finally collect myself, I asked my daughter. "Why didn't you just tell me you wanted to move out? Why did you have to do this?" Her answer was simple and short. "Because you wouldn't have let me." My response, "You're 18. I couldn't have stopped you."
Needless to say, that was a long night. The next few days were a blur. All I could think about was why? And why now? She was going to a place she said she never really wanted to go. Was he promising her something she didn't think I would or could give her? So many questioned plagued my mind and my breaking heart. It took a couple of weeks before I could finally process enough to simply accept the fact, my baby girl wasn't a baby anymore. She was old enough to make her own decisions, and our relationship would never be the same. I must admit, that realization is what hurt the most. It seemed the tears wouldn't stop.
Then time stood still. It was February 14th. Valentine's Day. It was a day I always made special for my kids. A day I purposed in my heart to set apart to let them know they were loved, more deeply than I could possibly ever express, but I sure tried. And this year, my baby girl wasn't with me to share it. I heart was aching deeply. But God...
God always knows what we need and when we need him the most. I had so many concerns. I found myself wondering if I taught her enough, would she remember what she needed to get her through, or would she even care to remember those lessons, some of which came through many tears. Ugh. Even so, I knew that as much as I loved my daughter, God loved her more.
I had to stop and think about what love really means. I read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, and thought about each word. I realized that part of loving someone is being willing to let them go. I picked up my pen to write and the words began to flow. Before I knew it, I had written a poem. A long poem. Reading through it made me see life is full of ups and downs, twists and turns, but love is the force that keeps us moving forward.
That poem became a song a few years later, one of which is my favorites. Oh...and here's the rest of the story.
It turns out, my daughter (who had her own thoughts and ideals of what moving out would be like) called me one afternoon, after being away for only six weeks. She realized she was not where she really wanted to be and asked if she could come home. Could she come home? My answer? Well, needless to say, we may not always see eye to eye, but I made a promise to myself that my home would always be a place my kids could come home to. My daughter graduated high school from her mother's alma mater 10 weeks later. I love my family.
I had the honor of performing Love Always at a suicide awareness event organized, sponsored and hosted by my cousin and featuring Kay Warren. We need to talk about suicide more "out loud." Suicide is preventable. With each of us making just a little bit of effort, we can turn this around. Let us love one another. But that's a blog for another day.
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