I had a long talk with Rowen tonight, snuggling in my bed. She has been feeling sad and is very moody lately, which as me worried since whole bucketfuls of crazy kind of run in my family. (I say that with all the love). But she’s 8. Too young to see major depression yet, right? But she says she’s sad or mad with no reason, and is so frustrated. It breaks my heart to see the small clenched fists, the tense body, and recognize myself in her.
So I wrapped my arms around her last night, and I told her a big secret (one that I learned along the way, wished I had known earlier): boys can go off to their room most of the time, be left alone, and figure things out. They need to either blow off steam or just let the pressure dissipate. At least the man-types can. But girls, we need ways of figuring things out - getting all that stuff sorted in our heads means it needs to come out and go somewhere so it can be looked at, held, examined, labeled, and stored again. I told her about some of my strategies, like
- writing things down
- prayer - the pouring-out-your-soul kind
- talking with other girls
And told her that this last one is SO important. She will have friends her whole life to rely and depend on. Aunts and grandmas and me. The Women. The Network. I said, Rowen, I will be your girl. You can always tell me anything. Even if it makes no sense or feels unimportant. I will listen.
Reader: When did you learn about the importance of the women and the network in your life?
And then I told her about another one that has brought me so much peace over the years.
First we grabbed Jared’s iPad, and looked up Galatians 5:22:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
I said, “What is the fruit of the strawberry plant?” And she said, “Strawberries.” And so I said, “What is the fruit of the pea plant?” and she said, “peas don’t make fruit!” So I told her that FRUIT in this case is what something makes or produces. So if the pea plant makes peas, what does the Spirit make?
LOVE, JOY, PEACE
I said that when we feel the Spirit of God we feel all of these things, and our goal is to feel the Spirit as often as we can, because that makes us happy. I asked her if she felt any love, joy or peace right then, and she said, “Not really”. I said, do you know what the word is when you focus only on yourself and your own troubles and problems? She said, “Selfish”. (So glad she didn’t think I was accusing her - I wasn’t)
And I said the opposite of the word selfish is when we make our “self” a little “less” and make other people a little more - it is “selfless”. When we make our self a little less and focus on someone else, we can forget about our trouble and it starts to go away. She said, “Jesus was selfless, wasn’t he?” (My mama heart did a little double-backflip here). “Yes. He was. He loved us so much that He died for us.”
And then we looked up John 3:16 - a verse she will read and hear hundreds or thousands of times in her life, but this was the first time, the momentous first time:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
And I told her that I believe that if she had been the only person that Jesus needed to come to earth for, he would have come anyway. He would have died anyway, just for her. Just for each of us.
I asked her to replace her name with “the world” and read it again. Then I asked her if she felt any love, joy, or peace, and she said, “I feel peaceful.”
After that she climbed into her bed and fell peacefully to sleep.
I don’t feel like I have all the answers, certainly. This time - oh this time I was there and God was there and together we taught this beautiful bright girl a little something that is very special, and has been very special to me in my life.
I don’t have all the answers, but I have developed some coping strategies that are hopefully a little healthier than eating myself into oblivion or sobbing my face off until I finally fall asleep (not that I have not done these things), and if there is anything I can do that will ease the pain that is sure to come in my girl’s life (oh that I could protect her from it), I will.