Coming Home at Last
16 years ago this week my husband, daughter and I arrived in England from the beautiful shores of New Zealand, filled with expectancy and hope of a new life in a new land. My daughter was 13 years old, going on 14. My daughter is full of life, vibrant, and one of the kindest people I know. One of the hardest things for me was seeing her have to leave behind her many friends who loved her very much and treasured her friendship as she did theirs. My daughter also had expectations and was looking forward to welcoming new friends into her new life. She went to her first day at high school with her eyes wide open, innocent and full of caring and love. By the end of the first week she came home weeping and wounded, as a warrior returns from battle.
Why is it that children can be so cruel to newcomers and foreigners? Is it because they are threatened that their world may end up slightly changed and they don't know how to embrace change? Or that they have this territory of friendships and no one is going to take their friends from them because of selfishness?
It would have been great if they had allowed her into their circles as she would have made such an amazing difference to all their lives. Instead they chose to shut her out and in so doing, nearly destroyed her. For 3 years there was often not a school day that went by where her Dad and I would sit down with her and let her weep and share the cruelty that was splattered on her that day with us. After she released her pain we would then help to raise her up again by taking her through the forgiveness process so that she could face the next day with hope in her heart again. Day after day she would return downtrodden and day after day we would all work through this pain together with her. Her heartache was unbearable for me, I often found myself responding like a mother bear with her cubs, ferociously protective and not too good for the one who may have tried to attack her little ones. Many a time I would have to allow my husband to take me through the forgiveness process too. During this time we both asked our daughter repeatedly if we could come with her to the Head of the school to talk with her about the bullying that was going on right under her and her colleagues noses. Repeatedly my daughter would reply 'No, it will only make it worse. I will be okay, I can get through this.' How can it be that just a few short years earlier she was surrounded by her own circle of loving and amazing friends, now to find her rejected, left out and treated as a stranger within the place where she had to spend a major part of her waking hours.
Cruelty from children
We, all know, as parents that children can be cruel but we don't really realize it until we find our own child the object of this cruelty. So the years past and she coped, it left a deep scar on her soul, it caused her to withdraw and her happiness was now not so evident. Things happened towards the end of her 16 years that I can't mention as it is too personal, I can say though that it nearly destroyed her. I tried so very hard to help her through those times but she had shut herself down and I, her greatest advocate, couldn't get through. So I prayed to God to help her, to show her that His love never fails and that He will bring her through. I am a grateful Mum, my Father in Heaven did bring her through, although there is still healing to come. Those scars are still there and there are even some new ones but I am waiting patiently to see them become shining stars.What she learnt from those years was to not be who she is truly meant to be. The unique, beautiful, joyful, vibrant amazing woman that she was and once again will be. There are still times where she will come out of that hiding place and be the girl I once knew, the one full of laughter, full of fun, spreading joy from her beautiful smile as she entered into a room. She is still one of the kindest people I know, she is a giver. That, in itself, though has been taken advantage of over the years. My prayer is that she will never stop giving as it is what we all should do. Giving to others is a part of the forgiving process, not only for the ones who receive but also for the ones who give. We were forgiven at the Cross of Jesus, He took all this on Himself, the bullying, the heartache, the anger and hatred that causes these things to occur. He even died for the ones who bully.
My daughter left school at 17 as she did not see any reason for remaining in a system that had damaged her and had let her down. She found a job and saved up her funds, determined to return to New Zealand, away from the nation who did not embrace her. She pursued to further her dream and thought perhaps that going to a university there would be appropriate. She finally decided that because her main encouragers weren't there, her Dad and I, she would give England another chance. On return here she made a wise decision to follow her dreams, instead of being led down the track of becoming someone she was not, through the British education system whose god is academia. England's education system has become so strongly academic that it has all but destroyed the creativity and imagination from within the students it is meant to serve. It makes robots, simply surviving, instead of individuals that have the ability through the creative flow to change history. Without creativity I believe a nation dies. Without creativity I believe it grinds to a halt. To draw, to paint, to dance, to sing, to play music, to act, to write. These are what inspires us to go further, creativity brings about a wonderful freedom and keeps us uniquely us.
So she decided to follow her heart, she began her A level years 2 years later then the normal age. She went praying that this new college would be different, that the teenagers that attended would be kinder. Thankfully they were. The college she went to was solely for creatives. It focused on the arts, media and film. You see my daughter had a life long dream in her heart to be in film. Not as an actress but as a film maker. The one who could write a script, direct, edit and produce. She had lived through the most painful part of her life and survived, she had traveled more then many her age and seen much of the world. She had seen how each nation had treated foreigners and took notes on how they should be treated. With kindness, with care, with the knowledge that they would truly bring a great contribution to the nation that they are in if they are treated with dignity and respect. She knew what it was like to be an outcast and was now determined to not let anyone else feel the same way. So her journey began, this college and it's pupils embraced her, she began to blossom and her wounds began to heal. She excelled at her course and her grades were among the highest they had ever had at that college. With these grades she was then given a scholarship and was received into one of the best universities in London for the arts. Her university years were so very good for her. She found many friends who were like minded and she was given the opportunity to birth much of what she had dreamed about. That is not to say it was a breeze, it still had it's fair share of knocks but she was able to get back up, forgive, wipe her feet and move forward. She was given the honour of being able to write and direct a film within her class for graduation. On her graduation day where thousands of students and their parents had gathered, I believe I was the loudest in cheering, the loudest in voicing my joy. My daughter recalls that, even though we were right down the back of the auditorium, she could hear me and my shouts of celebrating her. My girl, the overcomer, the fighter, the one who stands up and fights for others, the one who has learned one of the most valuable lessons anyone can. To love, to forgive, to move forward. She knows that without the help of Jesus it would not have been so and she gives him the honour.
Another dream fulfilled
That was 5 years ago now. My girl is coming home tomorrow from New Zealand. She has been there for the last 4 years, how I have missed her with a longing that only God knows about. She fulfilled one of her dreams again. Yey! Dreams and the fruition of them is so vital in life. She has been part of the film crew for the Hobbit. She has been blessed thoroughly. She has been able to see all of New Zealand whilst on location. She was even able to see one of the most spectacular parts of the South Island, the Milford Sounds, by helicopter. She has worked extremely hard, often 6 days a week 16 to 18 hour days. She has learned a lot. She has cried a lot. She has laughed a lot. She has reaped what she has sown, in that where she continued to be who she is as unique and the only one of her on this planet, she received amazing things back. We, as her parents are so proud of her. We, after all, walked alongside her on this painful, at times devastating, most amazing journey. It isn't finished yet, by any means. She is coming home tomorrow for a well deserved month's rest. We will lavish her with love and peace, joy and laughter. We will once again cry with her and jump for joy over all the things that she has gone through. The best part of this for me though is that we will be able to hug as often as we wish. We will be able to smile at each other across the room and know that all is right within our home.
Why have I chosen to let you all in on this very personal journey of my daughter, thinking that you actually would like to know her story?
It is because I would like to impart to you a very important life lesson!
If you are living just down the road (within 3 hours or so) of your family, then take every opportunity that presents itself to see them often, hug them often, laugh with them often.
To those who have their family living further away, may I say that you can't get much further then the other side of the world, then speak to them often, skype is awesome and in the main apart from internet access, free.
Do your level best to try to get to hug them at least once a year if possible because 2 years and 8 months is far too long.
Finally, remember, every foreigner that has come to live in your nation is important, they have amazing gifts that they carry with them. They have within them the abilities to add to the betterment of your nation. They deserve to be treated with respect and with dignity. They too, can help change the course of history. Embrace them and you will be all the better for that embracing.
Only one night more before I embrace my beautiful, amazing, vibrant unique daughter and see her smile, once again, as it enters my room.