For some reason I actually thought it would be up to me to create space for this conversation. Like any relationship, it is important not to just assume opportunities like this will fall in your lap and yet if we seek to control it or make it happen we can end up doing more damage than good. This was not about me nor was it about me trying to fix something. This needed me to simply let the Holy Spirit lead me and trusting him to do what he wanted to do with E. I knew I would need to look for opportunities to initiate such a conversation but at the same time I needed to be aware of the Holy Spirit working things out and making sure I wasn’t forcing something. Margaret had already told us that the next time Ethan was emotional rather than encourage him to get over it quickly and to reassure him, she suggested we let him explore his emotions and give him space to feel them and let that vulnerability create such an opportunity. As a parent we want our kids to feel
happy and at peace but at what cost? In the process of comfort and reassurance we can rush past the opportunity for them to process their emotions well. I am so quick to want them to move on and get over whatever it is they are dealing with that I can miss what is going on in their heart.
Just two weeks later (way earlier than I had expected it to happen), we were up in Echuca and Ethan had been outside playing tennis with Steve and Brooke. For some reason he came inside and the others were still outside. He was extremely teary and upset but irrational. This was the behaviour we were concerned about so I was aware this may be my opportunity. I needed to take my time and create space so that is what I did. Right there I could have encouraged him to wipe his eyes and head back outside to play but I chose a new path. I can’t remember how the conversation started but I was intentional in leading into telling him his story. Ethan has always loved hearing about his story. Each child’s birth is rich with wonder and love of our creator God and E as always had a heap of questions but this was different. I began to let him explore our side of the story and what we had gone through to have him and how that had effected us. I had never really shared about my emotions and what Steve and I had felt when everything went wrong. I also let him explore what he would have felt when everything went wrong. I shared at length the stress and concern we had had for him and how people were praying for him.
What shook me the most about this conversation is that Ethan began to weep. Not just a few tears but deep sobs. Within minutes we were both blubbering. The part I loved the most was when I got to say sorry. How often do we say sorry for the things we never intentionally did to hurt wound, or burden another. We had never intended for him to feel our pain and worry and it was never God’s intentions for him to carry the concern and weight of emotions that he had on that day and had been carrying ever since. Here was an amazing opportunity for Ethan to forgive us for what we hadn’t been able to do for him. This simple story of forgiveness showed Ethan how easy it is to forgive others and also how important it is to be sorry when he unintentially hurts others. As he willingly forgave us he cried for 40 minutes. I know there was a deep work of God that took place in Ethan that day that I could never have done on my own. The Holy Spirit used that conversation to help unlock Ethan emotionally and give him a key to freedom. I realised that I had taught him the power of forgiveness by being humble enough to ask for it.
The effect on Ethan’s behaviour was profound. His emotions found balance almost immediately and his behaviour was so much more what we knew to be our boy. I love that we both learnt that day how important it is to provide someone with the opportunity to forgive. He had no idea he needed to forgive us for stuff. My willingness to show humility and obedience provided space for him to experience God in a way he never had before. So often our issues of un-forgiveness are for the things others have neglected to be or do, for the disappointment they have caused unintentionally rather than the things they have done intentionally. I wish I had learnt how to forgive and deal with disappointment at such a young age.
Let humility and obedience lead you. It could lead to you to freedom and even better…to someone else’sfreedom.