I don’t know if I’ve endured anything worse than regret. Today I faced regret this bitter as I realized that mistakes I made brought harmful effects on my daughter.
My selfishness, denial, lying to myself and God; all of these things led to her pain.
I once endured a five hour taxi ride through the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The driver was taking the steep curves at top speeds while blaring his Arabic music louder than any teenager I’ve ever heard. On top of that, I was sick as a dog. I’d caught the flu-like bacterial souvenir sickness that most Westerners get when visiting North Africa. Between stopping the taxi for me to vomit, I lay on my friend’s lap and passed in and out of consciousness from pain. I remember asking God to take my life. I was so sick that when we arrived in the next city I got out and lay face down on the ground until we found someplace to stay (on the GROUND outside–in AFRICA! I don’t like lying down on the ground in suburban America!). The Moroccans even told my friend I looked bad.
I’d go through that ride all over again if it would prevent this pain my daughter now faces.
You see, I now realize something: I wasn’t there for my daughter in one of the hardest times of her life. When I was going through the divorce from her father I was so lonely and hurt. Instead of taking all my pain to God I leaned on a tall, handsome friend (who became my boyfriend after some time). At the time he was there for me, and I felt so much loss that I let him fill that void in me. My mom, being the super grandmother she is, stepped in and spent time with my daughter because I wasn’t. I just stepped back and let her do it. Now, I was around her daily; I took her to school, fed her, put her to bed most nights. But, emotionally I wasn’t available to her.
Now I see that my selfishness hurt my daughter. As I ran to a person, instead of to God, I abandoned my little girl emotionally, and now she’s unable to trust anyone–even me. Now she and I feel miles apart, despite my best efforts and apologies.
I think we all tend to run toward someone or something in our pain. For comfort, for distraction, for hope that life will get better.
“This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.” Psalm 91:2
Now I want to run to God as my hope, my help, my safe place. When I lean on Him I not only receive hope and comfort, I receive His supernatural strength to still be the mom (woman, employee, friend, etc.) that I need to be. He is the only true hope. The only one I want to run to.
As far as my daughter goes, I have asked her forgiveness and forgiven myself, and, thankfully, God is able to use my mistakes and weaknesses for good (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). He will turn my mess into something beautiful. And He will be there to heal my daughter’s hurts as she opens her heart to Him. He is big enough for all of us, His love is unconditional, and He doesn’t give up.