Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Reflections on the beauty of failure and jagged edges

I had good intentions of blogging regularly while D was with us these past four weeks. It isn't that it has been four weeks without event, conversation or growth. It's just that the longer I host and the more I spend time with him, the more I realize how so much of our time together isn't necessarily mine to share. Here are a few thoughts and snippets that I feel are "mine" that I can let you take a peek at.

D is a wonderful and complex young man. We weathered a rough week during week 2-3, had a big conversation on Christmas Eve that put lots of his questions out in the open. Frank conversation can be hard for me-- I grew up in a home where you often ignored or danced around difficult conversations. This is new territory to simply ask, "Are you angry with me? Let's talk about it." It was also new to reassure him, "It's okay if you're mad at me." And the all time favorite D quote from our time together, "You failed me, mom." The first time I heard it, I felt like I had been kicked. I didn't even have a response because the shock and hurt were pretty consuming. It led to some time in reflection, prayer and digging into the core of why it ate me up when he said that.  The next time I heard it, I hugged him and said, "Then it's really like you're part of the family. Because I fail my husband and children spectacularly on a regular basis. Get in the "mom-failed-me" line and enjoy the view."

And at that point, all passive aggressive behavior stopped and we grew closer.

When friends ask, "How's it going?" I hesitate to share some of those little gems. I don't want to portray D in a negative light. And I don't want to insinuate that hosting was always difficult or without reward. On the contrary-- it's been an amazing time together. We had spiritual conversations that resulted in him sharing his honest views and questions, not just giving me Sunday School answers that will make me happy. I feel like we had the chance to know him better, and not just in the sense of the exotic: "Wow! A teen from Eastern Europe who has a completely different culture and language we can learn more about". No, this hosting was getting to know him better, and that was a lovely experience.

The more I reflect, the more I believe that the rough, jagged edges of our time together came from his comfort level and a careful "push" at us. Are we really safe? Do we really care about him-- even if he's challenging in the moment? Honestly, I came to see these difficult moments as a beautiful thing. Because my biological kids can be real stinkers sometime, but know that we'll always love them no matter what. I hope he came away with the same realization.