Thank you so much to everyone who has either commented on my blog, emailed me, or talked to me in person about my struggles with my teenage daughter. I have gained so much insight from everyone, and I have felt your sincere support.
In my religion, we believe that earnest prayer is the most powerful way to bring your concerns to Heavenly Father. But that same prayer, coupled with fasting (no food or drink for 24 hours, or at least 2 meals), can yield even more spiritual results. I decided last month that I would fast every Sunday until Thanksgiving, hoping to receive some personal revelation about my relationship with my daughter. I also decided to fast that Heavenly Father might touch HER heart with a spirit of gratitude. I wanted to focus on gratitude because I feel like when we are truly grateful for our blessings, we recognize them and revere them more readily. It’s been my wish that my daughter could at least see the blessings in our home around her. How much we love her. How we take care of her. How her home really is a safe haven for her.
I can testify that I have really seen a change in our home over the last month, and I do believe it has been an answer to my fasting and prayer. There has been a softening in my daughter’s spirit, enough so that she has actually initiated conversations with us and has begun to share more of herself. I’ve also been strengthened and able to not take things so personally, to be able to stand back and say or do what needs to be said or done without getting so emotional.
Recently my daughter began a conversation with me about a friend of hers at school. This friend confides in my daughter a lot, probably because he knows she is a kind and compassionate person. It turns out that this boy does not have a safe haven at home – that his family derides him and makes him feel worthless. He has even been locked out of his own house or has been forgotten at school and left to wait until dark for someone to pick him up. My daughter’s heart is breaking for him. She doesn’t understand how a family could be so uncaring and unkind. She admitted to me that she does really feel blessed to be a member of OUR family.
Tonight I was reminded that when we fast and pray, it tends to invite the Spirit into our whole house, and into each of us who lives here. My daughter A10 asked if she could talk to me tonight about a situation she’s having at school with a girl who is picking on her. We talked for quite a while before my daughter explained that this girl is an only child and that her parents are divorced. She goes straight to daycare after school and isn’t picked up by her father until dinnertime. She only sees her mom on holidays. I could literally see something flood over my daughter as she was talking to me, and suddenly she started crying. Through her choked sobs, she explained that she was just so grateful to get to come home every day to a sweet baby brother and her brother and sisters who played with her and talked to her and loved her. She said she couldn’t imagine us all not being together and being happy with one another. She held on to me very tightly as she just kept repeating how grateful she was.
I think it’s so easy to take our families for granted. We get bogged down in the day-in, day-out stuff, and much of the joy and spark of family life gets drained right out of us. I’m never happy to hear how the friends of my children are suffering. It really does break my heart. But lately they’ve served to remind my children of the blessings they can find here in their own home.
My challenge to my daughter A10 tonight was to have her think of ways that she could carry her own blessings into this other girl’s life. Yes, it’s good for us to see and feel and know how lucky we are to have each other, but it’s all for naught if we can’t find some way to put a dash of that into someone else’s life. Just spreading seeds of gratitude.