Although she is but one, she can do all things,
and while remaining in herself, she renews all things;
in every generation she passes into holy souls
and makes them friends of God, and prophets;
for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom.
One of my hardest parenting challenges is when my daughter says to me, “You don’t understand!” and she speaks the truth. It’s true that I have not been in her shoes. It’s true that I have not had the exact same life experiences or frustrations. Its true that I had a different mom and lived in a different city and went to a different high school. And yet, isn’t it also true that my experiences in life, even if they aren’t identical, have helped me to understand her frustration? What makes this parenting challenge so difficult is that, in her heightened emotional state, my daughter is so focused on her own emotions that she can’t let down her guard enough to let her mother simply love her.
What can I do for a girl with whom I have not shared an exact experience? I can listen to her compassionately. I can give her a hug and allow her to let the tears flow.
Sometimes I wonder what God would say about how we comfort those who are suffering. When my daughter came home in tears yesterday and was sure that I had no idea how she felt, I sat down with her at the kitchen table and completely focused on what she was saying. No cell phone, no computer, no TV. Probably most days, I would give her half my attention while I looked at the mail, checked my email, and started dinner. As I reflect on it now, I realize that I did not accomplish this feat of focus on my own. God held my hand and helped me to see how important it was, at that very moment, to be present to my daughter’s suffering. I give thanks for that grace.