What an entirely cynical title.
I've spent the past few months quietly fuming and praying about crummy decisions a family member is making. Hoping the switch will flip and her brain will turn back on to smart mode. But it hasn't happened. As her behavior worsens, my fuming has become more vocal. In the past few days, I have started to rant to anyone who will listen. Not a good sign on my end.
Today I found out she crossed the line. The line that makes us set our own boundaries and build up our walls.
I shouldn't have to feel like I need to protect my kids from their aunt. We shouldn't have to worry about what will come up missing from our garage or when (not if) our home will be broken into.
Steal it, sell it, get your fix.
Break into your own grandmother's house while she is sick in the hospital.
I'm furious. I'm hurt.
I'm not alone.
Raise your hand if you have a family member like this. If you are raising your grandchildren because your own children are too strung out to be parents. If you can't trust your ex around your kids or your home. If you have had to get a restraining order against a loved one. If you've watched someone become unrecognizable as addiction distorts them. If you've done all you can to protect a loved one from an abuser and watched them go back... again... and again....
This is my first time. Not the first time I've been hurt by a family member. Not the first time our family has had conflict. Not the first time I've struggled to forgive a wrong.
The first time I can say we lock our doors to keep family out. The first time we have had to tell our children to never leave school with auntie if she stops by and says she is there to pick them up. The first time we have decided we will not be inviting her to another birthday or bbq because of what might come up missing. The first time we have stopped offering to help our own flesh and blood.
We have joined the ranks.
Ironically, my girls picked Family Relationships this week in our high school group. We've talked about relationships with siblings and parents and God's expectations of how we respond to our family and love our family. This week is about healing hurts caused by family.
Well, my wound is pretty raw right now. My husband and I are reeling... and we really aren't even the victims. I'm not quite sure if my reactions are very "Christian". I know I have had to fall on the floor and pray for forgiveness for the thoughts I am having and the words I am saying, for strength to forgive her and His love to fill my heart so I won't wish hell on the people she is with. It's awful.
While I work through the forgiveness, I am preparing myself for the worst. I'm struggling to find the balance.
We refuse to enable. We refuse to become enmeshed. We refuse to participate, at any level, in her unhealthy behavior.
I want her to know she is loved. I want her to know I am continually praying for her. I want her to know my heart is breaking in pieces for her. I want her to know she is better than this.
I want her to know we will never bail her out. I want her to know we will never give her money. I want her to know we will be the first to call the police if she gives us reason.
I want her to know our kids have wept in church because they know she is "making bad choices". I want her to know we have done our best to not discuss grown-up issues in front of them, and all we can do is hug them and cry with them. I want her to know she isn't fooling anyone... not even her five-year old niece.
And I want her to know... most of all.... that the God who holds the universe is jealous for her. He loves her with an everlasting love. He has paid the price. There is nothing she has done or could do to ever change that. He is constant and unchanging. His love never fails. His mercy never ends. Forgiveness is hers if she can accept it. When she is ready to come home, He will be there.... with arms outstretched.
...And so will we. We won't enable. But we can forgive.