“Mom, I need to tell you something.” My heart stopped. Her voice was barely recognizable through her sobs. I’d been anticipating this call for the past few weeks, but not in this way.
“What’s the matter, Kenni?” I asked trying hard to keep my own words even. “Aunt Kelly told me there was a bad accident up there.”
Separated by over 2000 miles, we had been living in separate households since my husband got a new job and I moved to be with him after the house sold. My seventeen year old daughter stayed back in our small town to live with close friends until the school year ended six weeks later. My best friend forewarned me that someday my daughter would confess to some activities she had been involved in. Thankfully, she had confided in my friend already.
I took a deep breath and prayed.
“They died, Mom. They hit a tree and died… all three of them!” she wailed.
“I’m so sorry, honey. Did you know them personally?” I searched for a tissue.
“No, Mom, but they were seniors. And they’ll never get to graduate because they did stupid stuff!” Her heartache was etched all over her words. “But Mom, I need to tell you something else.” I prayed I could keep my mouth shut as the tears rolled down my cheeks. I glanced around the rental house and ached that my daughter wasn’t there with us.
“I didn’t drive the car where you told me I could that night of the play.” I could hear the lump in her throat obstructing her words. Sobs replaced legible sounds. Could my heart break into any smaller pieces?
“Honey, I forgive you,” I said exhaling a deep breath.
I knew God was greater than any disaster that could ever touch our lives. I also knew that He was great enough to heal my daughter’s pain but teach her through it as well. Waiting and seeing it in action today was one of the most difficult challenges I had faced yet as a parent of a teenager.
“But Mom, you don’t know it all,” she pleaded that I hear her out. “I picked up other kids and we drove all over town that night. I knew it was wrong but I just wanted to have fun. I figured you would never know.” I heard her take in a ragged breath. “Mom, those kids that died could have been me. I’m so sorry I disobeyed you!” She dissolved into tears.
“Kenni, I love you, you know that. I am so grateful it wasn’t you. But more importantly, I want to thank you for telling me.” I battled the part of me that wanted to brag that I already knew, and the part of me that wanted to agree with her and tell her yes it could have been you and you should have obeyed. Mostly, I wanted to use my prerogative as a parent and utter those words I had heard over and over as a teen: We don’t make the rules for fun.
But, instead, I hung on to the promise that God had a plan for her life even amidst this latest trial.
“There will be consequences you know,” I cautioned.
“What are they?” she squeaked. I heard the daughter I knew again now that she made her confession.
“When you get here, you won’t be able to drive the car for a month,” I said.
“A month!” she protested. A pause. “Okay, mom,” she sighed. “I know that’s fair.”
Who was this girl? The full impact of the events that just transpired between us hit me full force. She’d grown up in the short time I left her. I wished that I could see her face and put my arms around her.
I would have to do it through the phone.
“Kenni, please remember that God loves you more than I ever could.” I felt like I was stumbling through a mine field. “He knows about all your indiscretions. He also knows that you will grow from this experience and hopefully use it for good someday.” It was more than I planned to say and I prayed I hadn’t rebuilt the wall between us.
“I know that Mom. God protected me. I won’t ever forget it.”
And she never did - at least while she was driving our car.
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