As months passed, Jen’s disgruntled posture took a stronger and stauncher stance. Every time Jonathan or I showed each other affection with a word or a kiss, she lit in. Screams or tantrums could be expected touting that we never did or said nice things to her.
We always encouraged her to write. And so with skill and passion, she penned letters and drew pictures expressing her feelings. Images of a green Jen gagging at the sight of us arm in arm stood beside angry accusations.
It was hard to see the reality behind her feelings. Through my eyes, we praised everything and anything we could. Constantly affirming our love and telling the kids we must have “won the lottery” to be able to have them in our home. Jen’s name was rarely spoken without a “beautiful” or “precious” before it.
The words were there. But they were getting lost.
At the end of our rope, one day we asked Jen to begin storing our kind words in her head and in her heart by touching each, every time she heard us encourage her. At first, we had to ask her to do it each time. Soon, we simply made eye contact after a kind word, touching our own head and heart. But before we knew it, she began doing it on her own. With a sweet grin lighting up her face every time. Touching her head. Touching her heart.
And grace upon grace. The competition was over.