We had just gotten the kids to bed.
Me: Ready for some Designated Survivor?
B: Lauren, I want to talk to you about something.
B: I want you to hear me out completely.
B: I think sometimes you assume the worst about me…when it comes to Wes.
Me: No I don’t! B, I would never do that to you.
B: For example, today when we were talking on the phone and I had talked to Ethan and Layla and I asked if you guys were headed home…You immediately assumed I had forgotten about Wes.
Me: Well, you didn’t ask to talk to him.
B: Lauren, I was merely asking a question. Me forgetting Wes is not a plausible scenario. He is a spiritual son to me now. God has designed us to become one family. I would never, could never, forget about our son Wes.
My frame was stationary, my heart felt stagnant.
Then he asked something of me.
B: Would you be willing to trust me? And when I say trust me, I mean to believe the best about the situation…and me?”
I could feel his words making knots between my shoulder blades. The rigidity in my back amplified. His words felt awful, only because I knew they were true.
I couldn’t respond right away. I needed some time. Time to sort this out. After a couple days, some good consciousness emerged and I saw it. He was right. I hadn’t believed the best about the man I just married.
I used to think the idea of your past affecting your present was a bunch of hogwash. I’d hear women talk about it on and off and I didn’t buy a lick of it…until this, when I saw that it was me.
For years I witnessed the relationship between Wes and his biological father. Without going into the appalling details, I’ll share that my “mama bear” mode was in full-blown status more occasions than it wasn’t. It dawned on me that I spent seven years, seven months and twenty nine days, in a steady mindset: protection of Wes. It now seemed that once-needed defense had regrettably rolled over into my new marriage and I didn’t even know it.
But then I dried my eyes and looked at it all again.
I had become aware and I wanted to remedy this situation. I wanted to combat these nasty contemplations and also the habitual responses that accompanied them. (But this had been a seven-year dependency. How on earth do you fix something like that?)
I knew I needed a calculated strategy.
I didn’t want to think these thoughts anymore and in reality, none of those thoughts were what I actually believed about B anyway.
So I did two things.
This is the most elementary thing you’ve probably seen an adult do.
I needed to change my thought pattern in advance, as in before the thought came into my mind. This would prepare me, which would make it easier to go to battle against those vile views as I like to call them.
When I was alone and calm, I wrote out the ugly thoughts (tough part). Then I wrote out the beliefs that were true, the accurate certainties I knew about B.
* Disclaimer * The admission of these awful thoughts are real. Some popped in and out, while others loitered for a while. The tension I feel even writing them out is crushing. These judgments are ugly and unfair at best and I hate them.
B forgot about Wes.
This isn’t even logical. We live with him. This is a complete impossibility. God has given B a new spiritual son and I have a new spiritual son and daughter. I would never forget Ethan and Layla. B would never forget Wes. We will always remember the kids God has given us.
At bedtime, did B mean to spend more time in Layla’s and Ethan’s room than Wesley’s?
B would never do that. B is going to give each child exactly what they need at bedtime. If Ethan needs more time, he’ll give Ethan more time. If Wes needs more time, he’ll give Wes that time. If Layla needs more time, he’ll give Layla that time. Neither one of us will show any partiality with our kids.
When he came home, did he hug Wes last on purpose?
B would never want Wes to feel any less loved than Ethan and Layla, just like I would never want Ethan and Layla to feel any less loved than Wes. I fully believe God is going to give each of us a supernatural love for our children because God ordained this family, not us. He will equip us.
Prayer, another elementary point.
At times, B and I are going to fail our kids.
I remembered our family verse, Ephesians 3:14-19:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
So I decided to pray:
I know our family has been named by you, so right now I am coming to you on behalf of the five of us. I pray that in our harder moments when we let our thoughts give us doubt, please give the five of us your strength. Let the five of us know the breadth, length, height and depth of your love. I pray that during times when B and I mess up, that the fullness of God would fill us all up a little bit more. If we happen to get anything right as parents, I would ask that you make it a little bit sweeter and bless us with your love that surpasses knowledge. We know you’ve put the five of us together and we are holding on to your promise to give us wisdom in every situation we face. We love you and are so grateful for your design.
In Jesus name, amen.
And that is what I’m doing. I’m working to fix it one day at a time with two very rudimentary things: Applying the best of intentions to B by deliberately changing my thought life and asking God to cover all five of us with his knowledge-surpassing love.
Somewhere in the middle of all this, I am bent on dominating this blended thing.