Years ago, my husband Terry and I took two foster children, we’ll call them Kevin and Amy, a teenage boy and his 9 year-old sister. As I have often said, this was a lesson for me in my limitations. Amy was a real challenge for me. She had a talent for somehow taking moments that were going well, everyone enjoying themselves, and just behaving in some way that spoiled the pleasure and peace. Looking back, I recognize I allowed it to be bother me in ways that made the situation worse. And I certainly understood that the behavior was a defense to avoid attachment to our family that must have seemed disloyal to her birth family. But that didn’t minimize my angst at the time.
One Christmas I had cut out some Christmas outfits for Amy and our daughter, we’ll refer to as “Jeanie.” One night after the kids were in bed, I went downstairs to sew these outfits. I was so angry with Amy, I went to sew with the intention I would finish Jeanie’s skirt and jacket and Amy’s would just have to wait till maybe I felt more inclined to do so. But what did I do? I picked up the fabric I had been working on for Amy and started sewing on it. I thought, “Well, I will finish this seam and then I will complete Jeanie’s outfit.” Nope….my hands continued to work on Amy’s skirt even as my brain was saying to stop and work only on Jeanie’s. I remember watching my hands like they belonged to someone else. What in the world was happening? How could I think one thing and do the exact opposite of my intention? This experience felt sort of other-worldly.
The course of this puzzling event resulted in my working steadily until Amy’s outfit was completed. I then started on Jeanie’s, still marveling at this sense of my heart and brain being out of sync. But I began to be aware that there was a lesson for me involved in this experience. I recalled the verse from Ephesians: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake, has forgiven you.” Whether you embrace Christianity or not, you likely can recognize the importance of acknowledging that we ourselves have often behaved in ways that required someone else to forgive us. Acknowledging that is humbling and allows us to forgive others when our inclination might be otherwise.
Let us make this a season of healing.
Wishing you a joyous holiday season.
May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter. Shalom, Kate