Do you see me?
I was trying to do something nice. Speak his language, as it were. Show him I care.
My younger stepson. My brilliant, articulate, cynical, angry teen who sharing life with is a balance of being made more like Jesus while trying not to go next-level crazy as his stepmom. He'd slept in again. Way in. So big brother, Mr. K and I went to our favorite taco place for breakfast without him. Not for the first time. It's an early bird gets the worm thing (if you can call 10 a.m. early.) But I wanted to try. Try to unconditionally love him and show him I care and will come to him even if he won't come to me. So I ordered him two tacos to go. We get home, and I go knock on his door. And knock, and knock, and pound like a crazy person so much so that Eric T. starts barking like mad.
He is a heavy sleeper. Maybe he's dead asleep still?
Maybe he fell asleep with his earbuds in? That happens sometimes too.
Maybe he's... ? (Don't go there, Nance. His last therapist said he isn't a danger to himself, or to others. He's just very, very angry. Like Bruce Banner in a leaner, olive-skinned, adolescent body.)
But just in case, and because the tacos are getting cold, it's time to break in.
I grab the flat-head screwdriver we keep in the kitchen just for this purpose, and open his door. He's asleep, but he's breathing.
**Thank you, Jesus. Thank you.**
Then I see it. The twitch at the corner of the mouth. The fidget and tightness of eyes being held closed. As someone who faked a lot of sleep as a young person because of my own battles with the dysfunctional aspects of family life, it's impossible to the signs in others.
And that's when it happened.
Last nerve? Danced on.
It's not the faking sleep that infuriates me as much as the willful and intentional act of pretending I don't exist. That he can't hear me. See me. Or rather, is choosing not to.
It's not the first time he's done it. He doesn't even have to fake sleep to ignore me. Sometimes he just does anyway, because God forbid I might be coming in here to tell you it's past 11 a.m. and you need to get up, or it's time to tackle your laundry. Or just ask how was your day? Is there anything you want from the grocery store? Do you need help with that homework that your teacher emailed us about?
No response. Nothing. Like I don't exist.
It's his most recent modus operandi when he's feeling particularly passive/aggressive towards me. (Why use regular words when you can use Latin?)
I'm standing there with a bag of his favorite breakfast tacos from our favorite place that I'm trying to give you after having to break into your world, literally, and you choose not to see me.
It hurts bad.
I'd like to tell you that I set the bag down on an open spot on the messy floor, prayed for him silently, and said "I brought you some tacos, kid, and I love you no matter what," and then backed away and shut the door behind me.
Not there yet.
Instead, my hurt and frustration became anger faster than a Shelby Mustang goes zero to sixty. I slammed the door and started marching across the living room headed straight for the dumpster. I was vaguely aware of Mr. K calling out for me from the couch to wait a minute, or something, but I was ignoring him because I was on a mission of self-soothing and would NOT be deterred. (And yes, the irony is not lost on me :)
Out the front door, into the sunlight, the paper bag flapping at my side, I power-walked to the dumpster as my inner voice asked, 'Is this really how you want to handle this? Is this the sinking to their level the counselor talked about instead of responding in maturity and being the adult?'
I told her to shut up. At least I didn't stab him in the neck with the screwdriver, ok?
And as I launched that bag of rejected love into the open maw of the apartment dumpster with James Hardin style precision, I felt better. I really did. I still do.
Anger released? Check.
Most constructive way to do it? Eh, whose to say, really?
When I walked back inside, I wasn't mad anymore. I felt great, actually. Vindicated, but a little sad too. Because right away I saw the parallel to our God and his creation. His people.
Do you see me? Do you hear me? Do you know how very much I want to love you and know you and help guide you and give you gifts from my heart?
I'm here. I'm right here. Just open your eyes. Open your heart. Receive the gift. The gift of my Son. Eternal salvation. Relationship with Me.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
Praise God for grace, you guys. Grace for rookie stepmoms. Grace for authors just trying to reach The End. Grace for broken and hurting young men like mine who got handed a raw deal in place of a happy childhood and make the best of it everyday.
Just like those of us who love them do.
I'm thankful for that grace. I'm thankful my Lord SEES ME, and that when I'm not faking sleep (as if that would ever work with God) and even when I try to, my Lord STILL sees me. Loves me. Doesn't go chuck me and the tacos in the dumpster. But instead waits for me to get over myself and choose to see Him back.
That's the gift of salvation, you guys.
That's the goal for me in this crazy ride called #stepmomlife
And I'm a work in process, just like the sequel.