Sunday, November 30, 2008

Grandparents of Healing

I think most parents want a life with as little suffering as possible for their children. Most of us would give everything we have to protect our children from needless pain. I'm not talking about keeping them happy all the time. This isn't a post about permissive parenting, about giving kids everything they want so they never feel sad. I'm talking about real suffering. ...the suffering of being hurt emotionally and physically by other people, the suffering of racial prejudice, hunger, disease, and fear.

Mango & I have the good fortune of being able to keep Mane safe from a lot of life's suffering right now. We won't be able to protect her from everything forever, but we will have given her a good place to start that wall-hanging that says, "Home is where your story begins." We can build a foundation for her. We can help her walk out into life as a whole human being, having not been harmed by abuse or neglect or even hunger. She will have grown up in a place where people love her, where her parents love each other, where people have set an example of how to serve each other and also set healthy boundaries.

This is something we have not been able to do for Vespera, and I am just now coming to a place where I can even speak of it. Our hearts are wrung and compressed by the weight of her stories sometimes. We would give anything and everything, to keep her safe, and to have kept her safe as a child. Yet it is somehow too arrogant for us to assume that she would have wanted that. Or that we would somehow have been the answer. If we had been able to give her a place to live her whole life long, where she did not suffer, she would not be who she is today. She would not have the connection to her culture or her birth family, and we could never ever take those things from her. We must, instead, bear witness to the pain because we were not there to prevent it. We will hear those things and hold them in our hearts and let the pain pierce us, too, because there is very little else that we can do.

...except to become grandparents of healing. My Montana friend said that to me the other day, and the phrase stuck with me. Mango & I can provide a place where Vespera finds a balm and a healing. And someday she will have children, and those children will have a different legacy. ...and we will be grandparents of healing, grandparents of children who will be protected from suffering in the same way that we protect Mane...not from all suffering, but from specifically the types of things that parents were put here on earth to prevent...abuse, neglect, abandonment...and the aftermath of brokenness that follows from those types of suffering.

Something I learned when I was studying therapy and that I have found to be profoundly true in life is that people cannot make different and better choices for their own children until and unless they are willing to face the reality of the things that have caused them suffering in their own lives. It's hard to make different choices unless and until you do the work of healing. And the work of healing requires space, time, and, often, the presence of loving people.

So, we are here to provide the space for healing for Vespera, to be the loving people, to cover that space with prayer, and to offer what little bit of wisdom we have. We are here to witness the beautiful things that often come in the healing, the depth and joy and contentment that can come of having known sorrow. that we might be parents of whole and deep, intense, passionate, vibrant, compassionate children...and, someday, grandparents of healing.

The song by Point of Grace called The House That Mercy Built comes to mind. I claimed it as a song for my house long before I knew all that would transpire there, and I claim it for this house here, too.

A light in the distance
Welcomes those wayfaring souls
Come this far
A heart grows tired, faith grows cold
Wandering down the winding road
Just simply knock, the door will open

There is a house that mercy built
There is a place where brokenness is healed
There is a voice saying peace be still
There is a house that mercy built

Mercy will find you
Though you've given up
In the middle of what seems like nowhere
He'll shelter you beneath His wing
His love will cover every need
Just simply seek and you will find

There is a house that mercy built
There is a place where emptiness is filled
There is a voice saying peace be still
There is a house that mercy built

There is a house that mercy built
With blood and tears
We've nothing left to fear
We live in grace
Here in the safe embrace of God
The mercy of God

There is a house that mercy built
There is a place where grace has
Been revealed
There is a voice saying peace be still
There is a house that mercy built
Rest in the hope
Rest in the peace
There is a house that mercy built


  1. I don't even know how to say how much I appreciate your thoughts. You are SUCH a loving parent to both of your girls and I'm thankful for your example.

    Once again, I love this post!

  2. You're such a good mom friend.

    I would like to think I had a hand in your mad nurturing skills on account of the countless hours you baby sat us :)

  3. Char, you absolutely had a hand in my "training." I've always said I wanted my own children to be much like you & your siblings. Ya'll were always such independent thinkers, full of life and creativity...


It's always good to hear from you!