Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I find the Gospel to be counterintuitive which may be a reason I am so drawn to it. I don't particularly like the reactions which come so naturally to me- revenge, lashing out, negative judging thoughts of others, being incredibly self scrutinizing. Thank God for a way around myself to the person I want to be. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I do not linger in those places I do not want to stay. I can wake up each new day hopeful that I am created in the image of a Good and Kind God. I can live in that Image myself.

Yesterday, I had this conversation with my son. Here's a little background before I begin. His adoption issues have created in him a rejection of self. He runs like his pants are on fire from pain and lashes out with whatever verbal whip he can find lying around at anyone following after him trying to catch his broken heart. He has no sense that pain can bring positive change, so he lives in a solitary world of denial and disconnected fantasy. He does not own his anger, because he's so very afraid of further rejection, especially from me his second mother. He'll clinch his fists, stomp his feet, turn red in the face, and yell, "I'm not angry!"

Me: (I sat with a present wrapped with a bow on my lap but never referred to it) So, what do you think about anger, buddy? What comes to mind?

Son: I don't like it at all. What's in the box?

Me: You'll find out later about the box. Why don't you like anger?

Son: Anger hurts other people
Me: How about you? Does it hurt you.

Son: Yes.

Me: So do you believe anger is all bad, nothing good about it?

Son: Yes!

Me: Oh, my dear one. I am so sorry. It's a mother's job to teach children all about anger, and I see that I have failed you terribly.

Son: What ARE you talking about?

Me: I must have never told you that anger is a gift from God. I'm so sorry.

Son: What?!

Me: God created everyone with a capacity for all kinds of feelings to help us. Anger is a wonderful tool God gave to each person. It's just like a sword. How can we use a sword to hurt?

Son: (totally engaged because he's real boy who can't resist any conversation about weapons) They can cut people. Wound.

Me: Yes, anger can cut and wound when we are careless with it. How can a sword be a good tool?

Son: It can protect!

Me: Yes! I used my anger to protect you when you were a baby. Though I will always love your mother, she lived a very dangerous lifestyle, and when I heard about her jumping out a window to escape the police, I became very angry. What do you think I thought of when I heard that story?

Son: About her jumping out a window with me as a baby. I could have been killed.

Me: I couldn't let that happen, so I insisted that you be adopted to a safe home.
Is there ever a time to yell in anger?

Son: No.

Me: How about, "Don't run into the street! A car is coming!"?

Son: Yes, but I never do stupid stuff like that.

Me: Oh, honey. For you, yelling, "I'm angry!" might save your life.

Son: What? No way.

Me: Remember how you and I have long conversations and it takes 15 minutes for you to get to "I was angry, because you wouldn't let me go to my friend's house, so snuck your phone to text him"? What if you just yelled, "Mom, I'm angry! You never let me do anything!"?

Son: No. I shouldn't yell.

Me: You're gonna have to practice using the gift of anger even if it feels wrong. Texting without permission is manipulation, and that is a much more self destructive and dangerous than expressed anger. Telling or screaming at me, "I'm angry" instead of taking your anger out sideways would a huge leap forward from manipulation. If you have to yell it, so be it. I'm going to have to practice not flinching and allowing you to feel something you have been afraid of for a long time. In fact, when you yell, "I'm angry" you're getting hugs and cheers. I need you to practice, so we'll both be ready. You need to see my eyes looking at you and loving you in the hard times. Try it.

Before he began, I warned my other children, "Hey, guys. _____ will be yelling at me, but we're just practicing. It's all good." Laughs and hugs all around after he belted out, "I'm angry, because you won't give me poptarts!" Inside the present I had on my lap at the beginning of the talk is the word "anger" and a coupon for a trip for ice cream as soon as he is able to implement this skill for real. He's dying to know what's inside the box.

I wonder if this might sound like utter nonsense to you, but I believe it's a key to my son's heart. I wasn't joking when I said I failed him, and now we're learning how to make amends together.


Anonymous said...

I don't see it that you failed him. You are still here LOVING him like the good mother you are!
You're both learning....and loving!
We love you!

hiddenart said...

I cherish this post. What a perfect gift for your son, the gift to be allowed to express anger, to be allowed to heal.

I had so much anger built up inside of me that I didn't even know was there. It is still coming out, bit by bit, as God heals me deeper. Oh to have had the gift you are giving him.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.


truevyne said...

Dear Anon,
I am loving him now better than ever. I try very hard to look at the mistakes I've made from a Ms. Frizzle of the Magic School Bus angle. She says,"Get messy. Make mistakes!" Mistakes help me to learn better rather than trap me in guilt. I feel your love...always have.

Amanda, you have blessed me incredibly with your words.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to hug you (and Tammy) last night, but when I looked up you were gone. :-(

I loved the posts about your boy. I will be praying for him. *And* for you...that God will continue to give you ways to teach and express truth to him. You are such a good mom and teacher. I don't think you have failed. I think it's all in God's perfect timing.

Anonymous said...

That was me... Deb!

truevyne said...

Oh, Deb. Thank you for your kind words. I wanted to hug ya too, especially after how you touched my heart with the word about pursuing.

Thicket Dweller said...

Wow. I learned a lot from this, as I always do from your posts. Thanks for sharing. I'll remember this as I put my own anger into perspective. You're a gem.

truevyne said...

Whoa, thicket. you're one i look to for insight.

Anonymous said...

As always - speechless. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I learn something every time I read!

almostgotit said...

Hey lady...

So much has been happening with you lately! This stuff with your son moves me deeply. I think the two of you were meant for each other, though. I can't remember who it was who said it, re parenting adolescents, but sometimes all you can do.. and all you NEED to do.. when you can't calm the water or do much to keep your kid away from it, is just keep the kid's boat from tipping over. That's all. I've been thinking that with my own son recently... scary when it seems we're BOTH going under (we never have yet, though.) A mother's job sometimes? Just HOLD ON!!

(And let your fellow mamas tell you with love... *GOOD JOB*, Mama True!!!)

reneegrace said...

WOW - that is creative parenting!! Talk about not parenting inside the box. This is wonderfully inspiring to really observe our kids and parent to THEM and not the book. Thanks.