I was excited as I entered the bakery prepared to order the cake for my goddaughter’s baby shower. It had been a busy day as I checked off my to do list so I welcomed a break to chat up the cake decorator whose daughter attends school with mine. During our conversation, she asked whether my daughter would be returning to FB for 8th grade in light of all that was going on with the 7th graders. Huh? I had no idea what she was talking about as my stomach did a roller coaster drop. “Oh yeah,” she continued – “there are girls who have been cutting themselves and some who are no longer eating who have to be supervised during lunch hour so they can eat.” My look of surprise caused her voice to drop and she drew back slightly which caused me to lean in and press the issue. “Names…give me names,” I said. And sadly she gave me two names I instantly recognized as close friends of my daughter. My mind wandered to the times recently that my daughter has skipped a meal or two or has moved the food on her plate around leaving it mostly untouched. I then recalled the many times she has come home from school a little sad or quiet and now I’m not alarmed…I’m irritated! I’m not irritated with my daughter, I’m bothered by the administration at the school who bombards my mailbox with emails trumpeting the many instances of scabies, lice and the like, but fail to give parents a heads up regarding behavior that our girls are exhibiting which could affect (if not addressed) those girls who are not involved directly, but are on the sidelines being infected. Ugggghh!!! “Lord, help me handle this one.”
As I drive home I sensed a peace that my daughter is not directly involved and I am once again in awe of the Holy Spirit who has been showing me how to pray for my daughter all along; who had arranged that meeting at the bakery because He knew that I must take steps now to protect my girl, to gain her trust, to place a little separation between her and her friends as they continue to heal. I ask the Lord for help. I ask for His wisdom and peace as I approach my child with this new found information and I ask Him to guard me from being irritated with her for not sharing what she knows if she knows.
Since my children were around 3 or 4, I’ve been talking to them about bad touch, good touch, stranger danger, good secrets, bad secrets, etc. I’ve talked extensively as they’ve matured about friends and trust; we’ve discussed the importance of knowing when to bring an adult into confidence for a situation that may be too big for them to figure out. Clearly, my daughter needs a refresher course, I’m thinking.
The minute she gets in the car, I just about forget how I’ve prayed. I tell her I’ve heard some disturbing news and then I blurt out…”what do you know about the girls who are cutting themselves and not eating.” I know….smooth, right? Her eyes get wide and tear up and I continue my smooth execution by asking her if she’s involved. My heart is thumping in my ears as she turns over her wrists and shows me and says “no, mom.” I hear the Holy Spirit screaming for me to shut up and so I do.
We get home and she follows me into the kitchen and as I take a deep breath, I hug her and remind her that I love her, am on her side and there is nothing she can do that can change my love for her. I tell her that she needs to trust me so that I could help her. She’s crying now and once again assures me that she is in no way involved; that the girls involved have been in this tailspin since early this year when the school found out. All of the girls are being counseled, their parents are aware and the reason she has kept that secret is because she was being loyal to her friends who were ashamed and asked her not to tell anyone.
She then proceeded to name each girl and it broke my heart to see her cry as she shared the names. I wrote each name down and my heart broke as I recognized each name. She hesitated and said there’s one more and this time she put her hands over her face as I held my breath. It was her best friend. Her tears slipped through her fingers and I felt her body relax as I held her. I’m sure she felt my body relax also. She was finally able to let go of that secret and I was able to exhale. I promised not to treat her friends differently and at that point I was not about to lecture her about anything. I just held her and reminded her what a loyal friend she was. I told her I wished she would have shared with me so that she did not have to carry this burden alone. My blessed girl said she has been praying for her friends and begging God to heal them; that she never had a desire to hurt herself because she has no emotional issues and she also knows that her body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. (I almost cried when I heard her say that.) I took her hand in mine and we placed them over the names I had written down and I prayed for each girl by name. As she dried her tears, she assured me that everyone was doing better. She knew a lot about both disorders…no doubt had Googled about them, since she used some technical terms. The times she had no appetite or was sad coming from school were times that her friends were struggling either at home or at the hand of their peers who were judging them. I believe her.
I’m proud of my girl for standing up for and with her friends; for being loyal to them; for praying for them and acting as counselor; for not caring that she too was being judged by the “theys.” It blesses me when I recall how over the top she celebrated her best friend for her birthday..how she emptied her piggy bank and dipped into my wallet in order to make her friend’s birthday special because she wanted to see her smile…she loves her smile!
My girl and I have spent the last week snuggled up, having tea and talks and many laughs. She has told me on more than one occasion that she loves and trusts me and feels closer to me since she’s told me. I’m grateful!
Once again, this piece points to the importance of the Holy Spirit’s leading in our lives. He is our teacher, our guide, our comforter, our revealer, our wisdom, our peace. I’m praying today for our youth…our daughters. I pray a hedge of protection around them and pray that no weapon formed against them shall prosper; that they would be delivered from the hand of the enemy and set on a course which would be pleasing to the Lord; I pray that their appetites would be for that which honors God and that they would respect themselves and each other. I pray that they would get a revelation of how much the Lord loves them; how they are fearfully and wonderfully made; how great their purpose is; how there is hope and peace in their future; I pray for their parents..for peace in their households; and a greater knowledge of and relationship with the Lord and their children….in Jesus’ name. Amen and so be it!