It’s good to know when you’ve done good by someone. I like to think I’m a positive influence to those around me, but I know I fail miserably sometimes.
Take my family, for instance. My sisters’ kids namely. I try my best to be a good role model for my preteen and teenaged nieces and nephews, and as the situation lies now, I try to be a good mother figure to those who currently don’t have a mother around. I have to say I kick myself ten times over for the times I don’t do things right.
I got a letter the other day in the mail from a friend of my sister who’s currently in Florida. She says that my sister has told her everything that I’ve done for her kids. How I help them with homework and take them to the dentist… and how blessed my sister is to have me in her life to do such a good deed. I couldn’t help but feel guilty when I read that letter.
Sure, I do those things for her kids. But instead of looking at myself in that manner, I choose to see how I let my temper get the best of me when they act up. I choose to see how I resent my sister for throwing this burden on me. I choose to see how hard I am on them. I choose to think that I’ve had no influence on them whatsoever, seeing as how they are bent on making my life harder and are still the little demon spawns they were when they first came under my involuntary care.
But it’s still me they come to when they need help on their homework, or when they make a good grade, I’m the first to see the paper. When they get in a fight, I get the first of the tattle-telling because they know I’ll have the unbiased solution. I try to be there like a real parent would be, but I can’t help but roll my eyes and get angry when they deliberately disobey me and annoy the literal mess out of me.
And then there’s the older ones, the ones who have a mother and father in their lives, who have a running home and a decent meal. The ones who I have no control over their growth as a person. Yet, somehow I feel I still do. I love all 15 of my nieces and nephews undeniably, but I have to say that I enjoy hanging out with “my girls” the most. Brooke, 16; Paige, 13: and Baylee, 12. They are the funniest, most intellectual, dork-i-fied, wholesome girls I know. I love them more than I can even express.
I haven’t been hanging out with them very much lately, with life running me the way it is. This time last year was quite different though. I was the sole spiritual role model for them and my nephew, Austin, too. I did everything within my power to get them to church, to keep them involved, to speak into their lives in a way that their parents couldn’t for one reason or another. I got exhausted really quickly once the previously discussed bunch came under my care. I kept hearing the verse in Galatians 6:9 that says: “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” — For a while, I know that was God’s verse for me not to give up on them, and it was working. I saw so much improvement in them.
And then situations beyond my control became to heavy on them. I felt something change, the stress of getting them to places and seeing them grow in Christ grew more… They didn’t seem to care anymore. It hurt. I felt like I had done something wrong.
God slowly made me realize that I needed to stop. I couldn’t believe my spirit at first. Stop helping them? Surely not. But yes. When I still refused to give up, God himself intervened and made it to where I couldn’t help them anymore. I was devastated, but willing to do what God asked.
It’s been that way since the beginning of the year. My relationship with “my girls” has seemed to fade to a mere flicker of a candle. I caught up with them this weekend for Mother’s Day. It seemed we couldn’t say enough. I knew I needed to take the chance to spend some time with them and we all got together to watch one of our favorites shows.
As I sat there with them, making them laugh with my ridiculous antics, them making me laugh in the same gut-wrenching manner… Refereeing the stupid little arguments they always have and shushing them when they got too loud. I looked at each one, so different from just a year ago, in every way. In good ways, and in bad ways. I see more confident individuals, blossoming into beautiful women… Yet so far from where I would have preferred them go… so close to losing their soul, slowly day by day. I smile at them anyway.
I say things they need to hear, wise things and advice from a mentor… And then say things I shouldn’t say, let my guard down and be immature for a while, indulge my own and their worldly personalities. Only to walk away feeling like this little time I could barely scrape together was profitless.
I’ve found that I expect too much out of myself when it comes to family. Yes, I want to do good by them, to teach them things that they will remember for a lifetime. Yes, I want to be a witness that you can have fun and be a Godly person without going with what the world says is okay. And yes, I fail.
I’ve realized that in failing I show that I’m human, even though that’s the very thing I’ve been afraid of showing all along. I thought that if I could just be a person to look up to, even if I couldn’t directly affect their lives as before… that maybe that’d be enough. Now I see I can’t even do that.
And even when I do have the ability to directly affect the lives of my family, as in the niece and nephews currently under my care… I still can’t seem to get ahold of just being their Aunt.
I want to do it all… only now am I realizing I can’t do it all. I can’t be a mother, an aunt, a mentor, a friend, and a spiritual leader. I can’t be all of those things.
I can only be me, and do my best at being me. Then someday I can know that I’ve done good by them.