My Daughter’s Poems

The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do

Was tell my children we would be leaving all they had ever known

For someplace new

And it was both my fault and not my fault

They left behind the familiar, the beloved

They were stretched and challenged and even broken

On the other side of that life-changing event

More so for them than me

As my life has been filled with change

As theirs never was

I had hoped for them a stability I had never known

But it was not meant to be

On the other side of it I can see God’s goodness

I can taste it and see it

Even through the valley of the shadow

But it was not easy

We all still bear scars

Where once I almost never cried

I cry easily now

Too easily

My heart more tender than it was

My son found new passions in a new place

And my daughter found poetry

When you have more emotion than your heart can hold

When the world is full of things that are foreign

When loss is your landscape

You turn to prayer and to poetry

The psalms reflect this

David on the run from Saul

Unable to kill the Lord’s anointed

Even though Saul was trying to kill him

Being on the run through no fault of his own

Alone in hostile territory

You cry out to God

Seeking to make sense of that which makes no sense

Trying to make sense of rejection and betrayal

When even the Lord seems distant

When his favor seems far off

So she writes

And her words resonate deeply

Her soul crying out for meaning

Even as she holds fast to truth

So this morning I am reflecting on my daughter’s poetry

And there is so much I want to tell her

While mostly I have praised her efforts

For her words belie a depth of soul that is hers alone

I want to convey to her all that I have learned

About loss and poetry and faith

But I know she must make this journey alone

And that is the hardest part of parenting

Knowing in the end you cannot help them out of their cocoon

They must find the strength to do it themselves

I want her to know that as beautiful as it is

All poems are imperfect

Editing is a necessary part of writing poetry

As it is in all of life

And as she herself put it so well

Sometimes you will make your mistakes in pen

I want her to learn to accept a critique without being defensive

Even though I know she learned that defensiveness from me

There is almost always some truth in criticism

Though sometimes the truth is a very small kernel in a sea of untruth

I want her to know that it is not all or nothing

It is not either a good poem or a bad one

It is always both

It has moments that soar and some that fall short

Just as we, the Imago Dei, made in the image of God himself

Are scarred by sin and loss and death

I want her to know her poetry will not be for everyone

And that it is their loss

But that she should still write

Even only for herself at times

She will be too much for some

People who are not ready for her poems

It is hard to suffer rejection

She experienced that this year in new ways

But that rejection need not define you

It is not who you are

And often reflects more on the shortcomings of the one who rejects you

Than on you

And then I want her to know that her poems

While born seemingly from her very soul

Are not HER

She is so much more than what she writes

She is God’s poetry

I want her to know all these things

Though it has taken me a lifetime to learn them

And even now I am teaching them to myself

Like the caterpillar

The process sometimes seems so painfully slow

The reshaping of our minds and souls hurts

It hurts to become something different than we were

Something different than we thought that we would be

For if you release a caterpillar from its cocoon too soon

If you try and help it out as is struggles to emerge

It will never have the strength to fly

And oh my girl

My prayer for you is that you will see the beauty of the wings you bear

And that you will soar

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