Plastering a fake smile on my face, I joined my Thursday morning small group. I had been in this Bible study of over 50 women for a couple of years, but the leader had decided to change things up two weeks before, placing us in random small groups. Of course, I ended up in a group with mostly people I didn’t know. Ugh! I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be here. I enjoyed the comfort of the way things were.
“With the way I am feeling today, maybe this is a good thing,” I thought to myself. “No one in this group would need to know my true story. Maybe it would be easier to put on a persona with these women rather than share the raw feelings of being an inept mother. Today I could pretend…”
“Isn’t that what you always do?” I heard the small voice from somewhere in my brain. “No one knows who you really are anyway.”
I sighed as my thoughts continued. “Guess I’m getting pretty good at playing the imposter. No one in this church would want to have anything to do with me, especially if they knew what was going on in our home.”
As the morning progressed, we started sharing in our small groups. I was amazed at the depth of pain Carrie shared as she told how her husband had left her and their three sons. I found it unbelievable that she was not crying, not angry, not bitter…she seemed at peace. “Wow, the strength of this woman.”
Laura was the next to speak. “Pray for my 22 year old daughter. The guy she is living with has recently been diagnosed with…”
“Oh, my, I can’t believe she said that out loud,” rattled through my head. A guy her daughter is living with…whoa! Carrie quickly comforted Laura with her words as I sat wondering how much Laura and I might be able to relate to each other. We both had daughters who seemed to be struggling.
As my turn came around, just as I had started to share a little about my wonderful family, my cell phone started to vibrate. I ignored it.
I continued my story…the cell phone continued to vibrate. I attempted to ignore it again.
By the third time, I mumbled, “I better take this. One of my teens is home sick today.”
I didn’t recognize the number, but as I heard the other voice on the phone, I began to shake uncontrollably. All my fears came rushing to the forefront of my mind. Quickly, I left the room so I could talk in private.
“I just wanted to call to make sure you are home,” the voice echoed from the other end. I was shocked! It was her voice…the voice of my daughter’s latest boyfriend’s mother. “How did she get my number?” I wondered. I wasn’t exactly thrilled that my daughter was dating her son. I had lots of concerns…no, major concerns!
“Well, uh, no, I’m not. Tamara, is there a problem?”
“I just think you should be home if you can. I’m at work already. I understand that both of our kids are home sick today. I just thought they might be up to something…”
“Thanks for letting me know. I’ll head home now.” I muttered as tears started falling uncontrollably. Quickly, I headed back to my group to get my purse and keys. The ladies were praying…praying for me!
As I quietly sat down to reach my purse, tears still streaming down my face, they all looked up with expectancy. I didn’t have a chance to hide. I was too emotional to even think about putting my mask back on. It was the moment of truth when I shared…really shared…my thoughts…my pain…my ineptness as a mother…and now my most recent concerns…
With tears streaming down my face, tissues were being placed into my shaking hands. Several women had tears in their eyes…especially Laura. I realized that she could relate to my pain the most. She put her arms around me and began praying as the others joined in. Calm began to replace my churning stomach. Peace began to fill my mind.
“You need to go now, sweetie,” they chorused. “We’ll be praying. See you next week.”
I prayed all the way home bracing myself for what I might find and rehearsing how I’d react if I found them together.
As I entered the house, all was quiet. I tiptoed upstairs as my daughter walked out of her room. “Oh, did you go somewhere?” she mumbled wiping sleep from her eyes.
“I went to Bible study.”
“Oh, I just woke up. I really feel awful,” she sniffled.
“Did you know that Brad was home sick today?” I asked.
“No,” she replied. “How do you know?”
As I later replayed the events of the day on my knees, it occurred to me that I was living my life in fear. Fear of what my kids were doing, fear of their choices, fear of what people might think…of them…of me. Honestly, I was afraid of being judged as a parent…therefore, the mask.
“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13.
BOTTOM LINE: If we continue to wear the mask, living in fear, we lose the opportunity of being strengthened by others that God has already refined who have walked before us in the parenting process.
Dare you to ask God for a friend with whom you can share your parenting woes.
Double dare you to schedule a time to meet with the friend.
Bravely walking the journey with you…without the mask…
“Let go and let God…”