Anxiety, Depression, Teenager, Poetry, Word, Truth, Life, Love

Pocket Full of Shoestrings

18557225_10105878219742550_319263151762499277_nSome things in life go perfectly
Some people find the perfect fit the first time
I just seldom happen to be among the “some”
Like new jeans… I hate those things
First, you inch into one of the legs, and
Do a kind of hop-step-jump into the other
And shimmy and stretch them up and hope that

  1. They don’t have cameras in the dressing room, and
  2. That when you get them up, you can zip them up, and
  3. That you don’t end up in a heap on the floor with the ever-growing
    “Those MIGHT fit a mouse” pile

Not that I know anything about all of that…

Some things in life go the way you hoped they would
Like outdoor weddings on crisp spring mornings, or
Babies who sleep through the night from day one, but
I got married on a hot, rainy summer weekend,
And divorced on a cold day in December, and
My 3 babies all loved to make sure I was held at all hours,
But actually – I didn’t mind this –
Because I got to be held at all hours
And I love that I get to be my babies’ Momma

Lately, I’ve been convicted of trying to control every aspect of my life
When I know that God knows the plans he has for me,
Yet I INSIST on keeping a planner,
Which is silly, really,
Especially when it’s clear by the Scratch-out marks and the
Clutter of stickers I use to cover over so many
Thwarted plans that
I probably shouldn’t bother to make any plans…
This is usually because some of the
Biggest events in my life are ones I never planned for…
Events I never saw coming…

Like this past year, when someone I love had thoughts of taking her own life
I found my planner filled with appointments
For psychiatrists, individual and family therapists,
504 accommodation meetings at the High School,
And follow-ups to follow follow-ups…
And my journal became full of words like:
“Safety plan” and “inpatient stay” and “intensive outpatient therapy”

And all the “Es” –
Diagnoses and pharmacies and anxieties
And the “shuns”
Depression and suicidal ideation

She’s just a baby at 16
She’s the good stuff in the middle of my precious three
My precious baby doll

And, oh… she is well-worth all of my going and seeing
Dr after Dr after Dr and
Listening and follow-upping and the daily drive to Dallas
And parking and praying and listening
And driving and parking and praying for sleep
Because the nightmare of walking through this
Far out-did any night-terror I might have asleep

This wasn’t the dream I had for my darlin’
But through it all I can’t forget one thing
One defining moment at the start of all this.
Let me take you back with me…
Down a near-empty hallway as I reached for my keys
And instead, found her tattered shoestrings
In my pocket

It was at the end of two sleepless days
Of walking through hospitals
Lost in a haze of despair
It was the beginning of a gut-wrenching 10-day
Nightmare – they called an “inpatient stay”
At a place that turned her life around
I walked down the hallway that echoed the sound
Of an electric lock
I can still hear that lock…

But I knew this was where she needed to be
Knew this was the best place for my baby
And I was too busy to let it all in –
Too busy with appointments and ground rules and then
As I left her behind that lock
And took the longest walk of my life
To the parking garage
I reached in my pocket for my keys
And pulled out a handful of dirty shoestrings
From her Converse sneaks
The ones she’d begged me for – for weeks
And the nurse had just handed them to me
So that she couldn’t use them
To hurt herself

With a fistful of shoestrings
I stopped short in the hall
Everything went dark, I reached for the wall,
And then it hit me – the wall AND the reality
It hit me  –
My baby was here for trying to end her life –
And my insides started to cry

This was nowhere in what I had planned, you see
Not when I decorated her pink nursery
Or bought her ballet tights or softball cleats
Or spent hours pressing her cheer-skirt pleats
Or buying Teletubbies sheets…

Something had to give
God, why doesn’t she want to live
When she’s just at the beginning of life
Doesn’t she know how precious she is?
Is my love not enough?
How can I be a father AND a mother all at the same time?
And that’s when God spoke to me
As if He was standing right beside me
He said, “I AM her father.”
And then

“Daughter, I love you more than you love her.
And I love her more than you know.”

He said,
“This is her story.
This is where she finds her way back to me.
I’m behind that lock.
I AM the key
This thing meant to harm her – will set her FREE.”
And then He asked me one more thing:
“Daughter, do you trust me?”

And right there, holding up the hospital wall, I thought about that word, trust…
I thought back to the husband who left me
The men who violated me
To the bio-dad who didn’t even know my name
Til I was 28
And even then – it was because I called him.
“Daughter, do you trust me?”
And I paused for an eternity…
You see,
Trust is something I un-learned long ago
Each time I was harmed or betrayed or “let go”
Trust slayed me
Broke my heart and raped me, frayed me
And He’s asking…
“Daughter, do you trust me?”
And my heart whispered –
“You’re the only one who has ever been faithful”

And just like that, I felt a spark
One smoldering ember of trust
Stirred in my heart and I just said
“YES!”
And I probably should go back and apologize
To that startled nurse in the hallway
But right in the middle of that sterile hallway of
Children’s Hospital in Dallas
I.
Said.
Yes.

And as I was standing there
Pondering all of these things
Holding my baby’s dirty shoestrings
I decided to trust that His plans
Are WAY better than my plans
And I realized one more valuable thing:

God did NOT order this chaos
But He DID bring order to this chaos

And He did
Today is one year later – almost to the day – my baby is well
She leads worship
She draws and paints and sings and plays instruments by ear
And she is so full of life
Her laughter is back
You’d never realize today – if you met her –
That this past year ever happened

The reason that I’m writing this
Is so you can begin these
Conversations – if only in your mind
It saddens me that we
We don’t talk about this in church
Or in school, or work, or anywhere unless
One of our kiddos is in crisis
Then it’s too late
So many of our kids are wandering around in the dark
And we need to flip on the light
And get to the heart of the matter
And the heart of the matter is LOVE

Here’s what you can do today that will help you avoid
Walking down a sterile hallway with a pocket-full of shoestrings:
Tell her that you love her on the way out the door
Put down your phone and catch a ball with him
Have REAL face-time with them
Dad, tell her you like it when she shares her heart with you
Mom, tell him you like it when a man opens the door for you
Let them find you reading your Bible
Teach them how to pray
Teach them the difference between guilt and shame
And never judge when they share their feelings,
But be there to redirect those feelings
Into decisions that will help their future,
Not harm them, at present

We have to start a dialogue
It has to start with you
And it has to start today
Tomorrow may well be too late

8 thoughts on “Pocket Full of Shoestrings”

  1. Sweet friend, my heart hurt for you last year after this all happened right after Easter weekend. I prayed and prayed and I knew that you had the strength and faith to show your daughter that it was going to be OK. It’s healing to get it out on paper and off your chest. So proud of you.

    Like

      1. Melissa I didn’t know any of this. So glad it is over and y’all have been on the road to recovery. God is good! It is so hard to understand his plan for us. I just pray all the time, that his will, will be done for each of us. My Love to you and your daughter, so glad she is Ok now..

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Your words and the honesty you shared touched me deeply. Some horrors are so very hard to talk about. Thank you for sharing. May I share with others your important message?

    Like

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