"You're so annoying!!"
With that exasperated departing shot, she slammed the front car door, opened the back door, grabbed her tennis bag and was off. "Just calm down," was my weak and only retort as I drove away. Her words stabbed me - deeper than I initially thought. It took the time it takes to drive the length of the parking lot for the tears to start forming.
And then the floodgates opened. It started as a trickle, blurring my vision slightly. Then I couldn't hold back. During the four-minute drive up the hill to my house, I was sobbing uncontrollably. All my insecurities as a mother came flooding into my pierced soul. It hurt so much.
What I feared and had tried in vain to prevent was happening. The unrestrained disrespect and anger I had felt towards my own mother during most of my life has come around. I am now the recipient of the same painful utterances that I had paid no mind to, nor felt guilty about, when I spat them out as an emotional teenager and beyond. Floods of tears poured out in waves as I thought back on my own behavior. I heard my condemning inner voice, “I am a terrible role model. I deserve this.”
I sobbed and shook while sitting there alone in my car after pulling into the garage, hoping my husband wouldn't walk in on me. It's been some time since I felt such anguish. I am such a failure as a mother. I wasn't there for her in her most painful times - couldn't comfort her, couldn't cry with her, couldn't hold her. My career, my own weaknesses, my own emotional paralysis kept me incapable. Alone in that front seat, as I sobbed over and over again, I pleaded with the Lord to tell me He was standing in the gap, that He was there when I was not. I felt like I had abandoned my own daughter in her times of need as she was growing up. And now she's leaving for college.
What is the definition of a "gap?” For me, it's that space between what is and what should be. I should have been there for my daughter, but I wasn't. The enemy of my soul points his finger accusingly at me - you are weak, you worked too much, you were emotionally unavailable, you didn't speak up for her enough. You should not have let your marital strife paralyze you. There was clearly a gap between the parent I was and the parent I wish I had been.
But I am a Christian. The whole message of the Bible tells us that Jesus is our gap filler. He came to die on the cross in order to fill in the gap. He came to stand in the empty spaces of my life as well as those in my daughter's life.
We all have gaps that need the mercy and grace of our compassionate and loving Jesus. He lived as a man and formed relationships with people with gaps in their lives. He understands my gap-filled life and my need for Him to fill them. I have to trust that He was there when I wasn't…that His love and His balm of comfort were there for her when I wasn't.
Lord Jesus, help me to trust in you to stand in the gap for me and to be one who will stand in the gap for others.
Dr. Alice Lee