God has been kneading my heart over the last few weeks, stretching and pulling, bringing the knotted, ugly pieces of me to the surface.
I have been wrestling with my apathetic feelings toward Sweet Mama, lately, and arrogance has crept in. The reel of mind conversation loops unkind, but genuine words.
I’ve done enough.
No one else would go this far.
She’ll be pregnant again in four months.
I am done with her; I am done with this.
I don’t care.
We have continued to email back-and-forth from prison. I stick to talking about the kids, because it’s the only conversation that doesn’t frustrate my love for her. Mama will be released in a few short months and her plans are not life-giving. She’s going back. To him. To the familiar. To the only life she knows.
Her resolve is to do better, but she doesn’t see the holes of her plan.
She called me, this week, and in a very abrupt, I-think-I-can-intimidate-you way, asked, “So how is this going to work with my kids when I get out?”
I wanted to slam the phone down and erase her from my memory. I’m pretty sure she has mistaken my kindness for weakness and thinks that somehow, in the end, we’ll co-raise her children together.
I tried a rational approach and expressed my hope that one day she would have a strong, healthy relationship with her kids, but walked her through some of Cisco’s traumatic experiences over the last two years in hopes that she would understand why he’s not ready for a relationship, now.
She didn’t see it.
I did more listening than talking and she released the selfish folds of her heart. Her love for her kids is true and real, but it’s tangled in her childlike focus on what she wants. Her experiences limit her abilities. She has probably never felt the depths of a mother’s love. Never felt sacrifice or cheering or mama bear protection. If she’s never seen it modeled, how is she to know?
We got off the phone and I was angry. I was angry that Sweet Mama couldn’t understand the fragility of Cisco’s heart or the inappropriateness of bringing one of the babies with me on a prison visit. She doesn’t see her relationship with me as a gift and seems to lack social awareness of not only how her words might affect my feelings, but also the usual practice, here.
I spewed my frustration to Ben and in effort to avoid apologies later, I set our conversation and friendship aside for a few days. I didn’t answer her follow-up phone calls or emails.
Instead I prayed.
I prayed for wisdom and asked God for fresh perspective.
His answer came in Galatians 6:9.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve given up on Sweet Mama – because it’s genuine. This path I’m navigating is not worn with travelers. It’s not usual, natural, or easy. I have to check my emotions at every turn and, continually, ask for a new supply of patience. I am not a born quitter, but the complexities of this challenge have worn me. When it comes down to it, my love for my kids is so much greater than my love for their mother.
But, my love for God is so much greater than my love for all else.
It’s no wonder my spirit is split.
I’ve been chewing on these words for days – do not become weary in doing good – do not become weary in doing good. Do not give up. Do not give up. Do not give up.
This morning, my reading was in Ephesians and I found the comfort I needed to right this flip-flop.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good…
I was CREATED to do good.
And I agreed to love like Jesus when I said yes to him and yes to Sweet Mama.
I have to push forward. I have to continue to step well outside natural boundaries. I have to love this woman that is so difficult to love...because it’s in me.
The Jesus in me will erase my disgust, mute the sighs, and try again, today.