She invited me a month in advance to go to a self-defense karate class with her.  When I agreed, she was so overjoyed that is just made her day!  I thought it might be a fun relationship building experience, and a night out without my kids factored in to my decision as well, thanks to my hubby!  

       The day finally came and about two hours before I was going to leave for karate, I started getting anxious mom texts from my friend.  Each text revealed more and more frustration over her children and the difficulty she was having managing their behaviors.  She eventually seemed so distressed because they wouldn't get in the car for their karate class (which was scheduled an hour before ours), that I threw out the offer to come and pick them up on the way.  She agreed right away, so it confirmed to me just how tough the situation must have become.  

       As I drove the fifteen minutes into the inner city where she lives, I prayed for wisdom to help her get her children to obey and get a move on, since they were already late.  I'm sure my jaw was clenched a bit tight too, as I mentally prepared to use my mom-is-in-charge voice.  While I parked on the street out in front of her house, I could see my friend and two of her daughters sitting unhappily on the front steps.  Going up the walkway, I heard banging from inside and could see chairs overturned and stuff all over the front entry behind them.  "We are outside waiting for her to cool down," my friend explained.  In a moment, I assessed the situation and asked, "Would you mind if I went in and talked to her?  Why don't you take the girls to karate and I will come later."  She didn't protest but only let me know I was going to see quite the mess.  Undeterred, I took a deep breath and entered "the battle zone."  I've done this many times with my own kids with trauma and FAS behaviors.  I have to admit, though, I was a bit scared about what I had just committed to do.  Thankfully, I had been building a relationship with this daughter, taking her to the MN Zoo, swimming, and teaching her cooking and such.  I was hoping that would be to my advantage. 

       I prayed again as I walked into the house looking for the troubled young woman.  I realized quickly that she had gone downstairs, so I settled in to making myself useful by washing the dishes that were piled in the sink, on the countertop, and on the tables.  Soon, the young woman I was supposed to be helping huffed passed me and tried to make a quick exit.  I reminded myself that I was in charge, so I turned around to face the angry girl and just as I did so, the Lord reminded me of what my husband had been reminding me lately- everyone wants to be heard.  After a quick commanding mom voice stating, "You are staying here with me," I asked her if she could tell me how she was feeling and what her point of view was on the situation that had escalated out of hand.  At first she screamed her answers.  However, I persisted, put my hand on her shoulder, and asked for more detail so I could understand.  I acknowledged her pain and hurt feelings and just listened as she poured out all of her woes.  Once I saw that her body had calmed down, I invited her to join me in washing dishes for her mom while we talked.  She agreed and the transformation I saw in her demeanor was beautiful to see!  

       When we finished with the dishes, this young woman sheepishly looked into my eyes and asked if I would help her clean her room after her outburst.  She wanted to make up for handling her frustration by destroying things and show her mom that she was sorry.  I agreed and hoped that her mom wouldn't be too upset with me for missing karate and spending time with her daughter instead.  I tried to stay as neutral as possible, helping her daughter to see more than just her own perspective and giving her ideas of how to understand when she is being triggered and what to do to keep calm.  We made a plan together to work on better communication in the future and that seemed to relieve her.   

        Somehow, at the end of the night, we got talking about "good" and "bad" people.  I shared with her that I was definitely not good, not good enough to get to heaven.  I think that caught her a little off guard.  But, I went on to explain that none of us are perfect or can ever be good enough.  That is why Jesus, the only perfect person to ever live, died to take the penalty that we deserve for our sins. This young woman wanted to make up for her wrong behavior by cleaning up, but we can't clean ourselves up.  The only one who can do that is Jesus.  

             I took her to DQ for a treat after all of our work, and she kept thanking me for listening to her.  She said she needs that.  Someone to listen to her.  My plans for the evening had changed completely, but I didn't mind.  I would do it again to see the peace on her face as we said our long Minnesota good-byes that night.


"Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; convict, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and instruction. New American Standard Bible. preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction." 2 Timothy 4:2



Katie O'Neil