Many people tell me I’m brave, they can’t believe how strong I am. Ten years of playing “mommy 2” isn’t overly common in the outside world. People at church would often tell me how lucky my parents were to have me and say “I bet you help out a lot, huh?” and I would nod and say “yes” while scanning the room to keep tabs on my siblings. “You guys are so blessed!” They would exclaim to my parents, “I don’t know how you do it.” My parents would nod in agreement while other families noted how well behaved we were.
It seemed people either wanted to have our faith or detested us. They would aspire to become like my family, or think we were crazy lunatics. We prided ourselves on being polarizing like that. There was no happy middle, happy middles just didn’t exist, it was like a murky grey in a black and white world, we were taught there was no such thing, people who believed in grey were just in the black but too cowardly to acknowledge it.
My parents did a good job training me, honestly. They taught me how to think critically, discern God for myself, and not let other people do it for me. They taught me to stand for truth in the face of lies and not back down in the midst of uncertainty. They didn’t raise a daughter who would just sit and look at injustice quietly. I learned how to differentiate between issues and people in debate club, and how to speak effectively through speech class. Even though I never did well in competition, between my parents and debate, I learned how to form my own opinion and find truth.
It wasn’t until I was almost 17 that my buried emotions and conflicts began to surface and affect my relationship with my parents. I graduated high school early (shocker) and was in my first (and only) relationship. It had already been a long year, my mom’s most recent pregnancy had been the hardest yet. I was struggling emotionally and spiritually as well as dealing with the added pressure of trying to teach all of my siblings on top of everything else. In short, I was burnt out. I wanted a day off life, I was tired and walking on eggshells because of a stressful pregnancy.
I felt selfish for wanting – needing a break. Told that my attitude and selfish behavior (because I was tired and burnt out/grumpy) was not something God would honor or bless. I had hated myself for years, and this compounded it. I was such a sinful selfish person and I did not deserve a break. My job was to take care of my family, life gave no breaks, and to want one right now was immature and selfish. I should happily give up my life to take care of my family, and to be annoyed that my life was put on hold (yet again) was horrible. I was wrong for feeling this way, I was a bad daughter, and God would never bless me. I cried. I was being petty, the things that bothered me really weren’t that big of a deal, I was just being a lazy brat and needed to get my act together.
I needed to Do Hard Things after all, and I wasn’t doing it right.
Preparing a Visionary Daughter to Do Hard Things by Kiery: