Friday, September 25, 2015
A Step towards Healing
One of the sad outcomes with Madelle's illness this spring was her loss of Bible Study. Our dear youth group leaders host a Bible Study after school for the Middle School at a local coffee shop a couple of blocks from my daughter's school. When she started at the middle school, a dear young man invited her to attend. She loved the study. A group of them would walk over, order Italian sodas, and discuss the heroes and villains in the Bible. Great stuff!!! Unfortunately, her past came back to haunt her.
In second grade, Madelle was bullied by two little girls. I was too sick at the time to go to the school and check it out until the end of the school year. By then it was too late; the damage had been done. The teacher failed to do anything about the atmosphere and her demand of perfection didn't help Madelle's situation. I look back and this circumstance either started or increased Madelle's anxiety and panic. In third grade, the girls had moved away, but the residue stuck to Madelle. She saw criticism in all interactions with all the children and she saw failure in all she did. I was doing better this year and volunteered weekly in the classroom. The atmosphere was better, but Madelle was not thriving. I didn't see it, but I am sure the depression hit this year. We moved her to a new school for fourth grade.
Well, needless to say, the people from her original school are unsafe for Madelle. Near the end of last spring when she went to Bible Study, one of the kids showed up from her old school. She made it through the study, but came unglued when she got in the car. She had a melt down and didn't want to go to Bible Study again. We allowed her to quit, but she did have to talk with her youth minister. I wanted her to advocate for herself. She did a beautiful job explaining why she couldn't attend. The minister offered to have the person not come, but Madelle told her that she didn't want to stand between the person and their study. It was her hang up, not theirs.
Yesterday, she decided to try Bible Study again. I was so excited and nervous. I prayed and prayed. She knew a couple of kids would be there from her old school, but she missed the activity. She had a wonderful time. We chatted about how she felt being around those whom she perceived to be old rivals. She said she didn't trust them, but she could see they were good people. She is starting to realize that her perception of most of her past classmates was clouded by her illness. She isn't sure if she will ever "like" some of them or be friends. I reassured her it was okay. Some personalities just don't mesh. Our job as Christian's is to see God in everyone and be kind. She is starting to get that.
For my part, I am ecstatic. She is standing up for herself: learning and growing. Her bravery to face her demons is breathtaking. I wish I was as courageous. Since her days at the old school, I have struggled. This school is very small and I know and love all the parents. I know the time she remembers is all normal kid behavior, but she was sick. She saw only the perceived meanness, ridicule, and rejection she felt, not the reality of kid interaction. I have walked a thin line staying connected to the school in my relationships with the parents and one of the kids in particular while standing with Madelle. My heart has cried many times. Madelle has struggled when I hug one of her old classmates at church gatherings. She is uncomfortable when I talk about one of the parents. Seeing her growth yesterday let my heart sing.