This week I’m selling my daughter’s childhood.  Oh, not literally, but…..maybe so.
This summer my college co-ed willingly gave up her bigger, pinker, orange-with-flowers-on-the-wall bedroom to her younger brother. So, over a few weeks we literally packed up and painted over her preteen and teenage childhood.   In the midst of sorting, piling, packing, and pitching, we came across journals, secret notebooks, and all sorts of things pre/adolescent girls have in their life.  The babysitting kit, the bracelet beads,  and the door knob sign above.  As I finished laying things out for the garage sale, I came across the message that echoed her teen years:

Mom and Dad
I love you and would do anything you say 
but sometimes kids need Quiet Time…and that time is 
So please 
Leave Me Alone!

Honestly, if our firstborn could have only have verbalized this a few times during “The Years”, it would have saved a lot of heartache.  But God doesn’t send children with doorknob signs or instruction books, so we muddle through ages and stages rather ruthlessly at times.
As I’ve sorted through drawers and boxes frozen in time, I’ve been  flooded at the mercy and goodness of God.  I’ve been reminded of the complexity of adolescence, wishing I would have better understood what 14 looks like when the Firstborn was going through it.  Oh, it’s much easier to understand 14 now that we’ve had round 1 & 2, and are gearing up for Round Three.  Long gone are the Lost Years of not understanding the full dynamics of what adolescence, in full-bloom, looks like.
Leave Me Alone.  
Three words I wish I would have understood better when my Firstborn said them in less direct ways. Instead of understanding, we fumbled through the Dark Ages, thinking they would never end. 
But on the eve of Twenty, complete with midnight chats and “Mom, don’t leave me alone,” I am blessed by God’s grace and healing work in a relationship that, at times, seemed hopeless.  While painting over the splashes of vibrant femininity, it’s bittersweet saying good-bye to memories of young womanhood, but refreshing to create new space for a new time…..a time of peace and growth, of discovery and beauty of true womanhood…both in mother and child.  A time of reminders that God’s mercies are new every morning, every day, every week, every year.
Professionally, I work with women in destructive relationships on a daily basis.  While I haven’t walked in each of their shoes, I understand the dynamics of conflicted relationships.  I understand breaking points.  I understand being spent, so emotionally tired you don’t think you can walk through another day. 
And I also understand New Beginnings….peace…. letting go, releasing guilt, shame, fear, and doubt.  I understand trusting others in the hands of God when the only behavior I can control is my own.  I understand the power of saying you’re sorry, and the humility of walking honestly before those who are watching to see if what you say lines up with how you live. 
While there is no instruction manual for teenagers, a wise friend of mine once told me, “Even though she’s pushing you away, she needs you.”  Seriously? I thought – That’s not what she just said (I hate you!).  That advice was a reminder that behind the three word rants (Leave me alone) was a flurry of emotional activity flooding a young girl’s mind and heart.  While I can’t undo the years the locusts have eaten, as I look back at garage sale trinkets, I’m amazed at the transformation the Lord has done in just a few short years. Reminders of the first time I saw the Lord work in my firstborn’s life, and how amazed I was at the realness of the God I had always known
Authentic realness.  The kind you can touch.  A life transformed.  A heart released to be taken over by the Savior.
It’s then I’m reminded that healing comes from battle wounds and strength comes from persevering instead of giving up.  That victory comes from releasing instead of holding back.  The joy that comes from understanding life through tested-and-proved hope that once seemed lost.
So the garage sale is set, the trinkets are ready to go out the door.  If stories could go with them, they would tell of pain, perseverance, grace and mercy.  If I could write a few doorknob signs I would, but I’ll leave that  to the Father.  He’s the one who designed adolescence in the first place.  Sure, He could have written a few chapters in scripture devoted to “raising kids in the Dark Ages” but He didn’t. 
Instead, He desires we keep coming to Him. Through the good, the bad, and the ugly.  
Through the “leave me alone’s” and the “I’m done’s.”
Thank goodness, He never leaves us alone or is done with us.
Because His doorknob sign says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:5

Thank you, Jesus.

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