Lily is doing so well. I really feel like she is God's blessing to us. I know we may have great challenges ahead of us, but I also know that God's grace is upon Lily and this family. She has fit in so amazingly. She loves us. She loves life. She sings out loud as she walks around the house. She can play with others or by herself. She is helpful and obedient. She is so smart that sometimes when I see her running around from a distance I have to remind myselft how tiny she is. So much wrapped into such a scrawny, scrappy package! Husband will point to her toes and say Chinese Toes! And she quips back, “you Chinese toes!” She loves to tease! In fact, I am not sure she really is capable of sincere relationship without teasing right now. I’m sure it’s a defense mechanism that she has learned in order to protect herself. And she did a fine job because she is in quite good shape after being neglected for 9 years of her life. She definitely loves us. But I am just not sure how secure she is still. Rightfully so.
If she doesn’t get her way she will sometimes (less and less every week) pout and then treat the person rudely (shrug them off, glare at them, not accept love, etc). This is the behavior I got almost immediately in China, but Daniel is just starting to get it in the last month. I told Husband that this is how girls act. They manipulate men! I think it is one of our sinful nature’s finest traits. Husband doesn’t like her to be mad at him so he goes back to try to fix it but she is still punishing him for saying no to her.
Lily is an innocent child who has been neglected for 9 years. She acts this way because she is insecure, and she should be. She wants to punish the person so they will not tell her no again. She is smart and she is protecting herself. So I talk to her and explain how she acts. She immediately realizes what she has done and she gets embarassed. I tell her we love her and she hurts our feelings when she does that. She has never cared enough about anyone to actually care if she hurts their feelings. Likewise, no one has ever cared enough about her to care if she is mad at them. It’s all good and we are all learning and growing. I know that in time she will find that she is secure with us, and be able to let down the defenses. My heart’s desire is that she will have healthy relationships in her life. Insecurity will destroy a relationship.
It got me thinking about adults. So many times when we see an adult act badly I tell the kids that they probably acted the same way as a child and never matured. Kids act bad and manipulate because they are kids. But what’s adults' excuses?
When Daniel and I first got married we had a rough first year, although it was good in it's own right. We had not dated but a year when we got married and if you know me, I like to lay it all out and know everything. So that first year we plowed through each other’s lives, the good the bad and the ugly. Sometimes I’d get mad at him and treat him badly. I wanted to punish him and show him that this is what you get when you do me that way. This is a woman in her ugliest! Manipulation. It’s so bad, yet so many relationships daily function on it.
As Daniel and I grew in our relationship, the manipulation stopped. Of course it rears its head, but we stop it. I’ve had friends who have gotten into very unhealthy relationships with girls as well. I can remember two girls in college. Everyone else tried to tell this girl how unhealthy their relationship was. Clearly codependent. But it’s hard to see when you are in it. You need to listen to others around you. Unhealthy relationships happen because of insecurities. A person tries to place a demand on another human being that only God could meet. The person fails continually because of this and anger and manipulation ensues.
The only way that we can have healthy relationships with others is to know who we are in Christ and to walk in that confidence. We shouldn’t do things motivated by guilt from others. We shouldn’t respond to manipulation. We should set boundaries and don’t let anyone cross them. One of the things that contiually comes up in books and advice concerning Lily is that she needs strong clear boundaries so she will feel safe. When we don’t have these same boundaries with friends then sometimes we let them cross the boundaries and other times not...and the person gets insecure and fearful and controlling. Speak the truth in love. And concerning our husbands, when we manipulate to get what we want it only makes us childish and weakens our relationship. So many men who have been unfatithful to their wives say they found someone who was nice to them! Yikes! Why are girls so mean?
So I guess just seeing these things in Lily and how this is completely expected behavior for what her life has been made me think how sometimes we act the same way and we don't really have an excuse. I see years and years of work ahead of us to teach Lily about true love. Not because she isn't easy to love or because she hasn't shown us love. But I'm talking about real love that can only come when you know where you stand with a person and you know it's a forever unconditional love. We are willing to show that to her. I know she will one day be a confident woman in Christ.
Yet some of us still struggle with this, and we have friends and family and happiness in our lives. To spend our lives constantly measuring ourselves against others only makes us insecure, threatened, and is such a waste of time. Life goes on whether you are insecure or not. We might as well deal with it now and get over it. Because there is nothing greater in the world than being yourself and being ok with it. Are you ok with it?