There’s the good, the bad, and the ugly in life.

It’s easy to write about the “good”.

I love to share videos and pictures of my children’s accomplishments. I am most passionate when I tell triumphant battle stories in the war on poverty, neglect, abandonment, and abuse.

More people engage, read, discuss, and share when they can walk away with happy tears and warm feelings.

Sometimes, even the “bad” isn’t so hard to tell.

Everyone is interested when a person flubs or makes a brief misstep; it reminds us all that we are equally imperfect.

The fact that there is bad mixed with the good seems like reality. We can be embarrassed with the storyteller, because we’ve probably been in their shoes previously.

But what about the “ugly”?

That’s when the sharing gets tough. These are the stories that are uncomfortable.

They’re told without making eye contact for shame and embarrassment.

Many times, the ugly seems worse than reality; these experiences are obviously ONLY happening to us. No one else can understand.

It’s easier to just keep the ugly inside.

For the past month, I’ve been dealing with the ugly. It’s not been good here. It has not even just been bad. It’s been downright ugly.

Nasko has regressed in his behavior. He’s back to exhibiting many behaviors I thought we would never, ever have to deal with again.

It’s been so ugly.

We’re not sure what’s triggering the behavioral changes (and we’re not sure we’ll ever know), but we’re trying a multitude of things to help correct the issues.

Yes, Nasko’s behavior has been bad (purposely burning his younger brother or sneaking out of the house – past four locks – and waking the neighbors at 5 am come to mind), but what’s been really ugly in our house is my reaction to this regression.

I’m beginning to see how conditional my love for Nasko really is.

When he’s doing well and accomplishing lots, I love him SO much. But when his behavior is embarrassing or unsafe, I withhold my love from him.

Like I said, it’s been ugly.

I overreact when he says he’s going to clean up a toy outside, but instead leaves our property to go inside someone else’s fence.

I explode physically when he lies to me about maliciously hurting his brother.

I hide in my room and cry – not because I’m frustrated by his shortcomings, but because of the realization that he may never become independent and we’ll be taking care of him forever.

In this season, as I’ve admitted to those closest to me, I honestly don’t like Nasko. His obsessive personality, his blatant disobedience, and his disinterest in typical childhood activities is exhausting, frustrating, and uncharming.

I wish I could neatly tie this post up in a bow with the typical “But here’s the life lesson I’ve learned from this challenging time…”, but I’m not there yet. I’m actually still waist-deep in the ugly. All I know is that it is most important that I work on MY heart before I can expect any changes from Nasko. We may have a new diet, education plan, discipline chart, and schedule for him, but none of that matters if I am not loving him unselfishly. Truly loving him.

I recently read this quote in a book, “I’m not ashamed that everyone from my kids’ teachers to my friends to the children themselves knows how smitten I am with them.”

I want this to be true in our house. I want that sweet boy with dark brown eyes and gorgeous eyelashes to know that I am smitten with him. I want to be his first love, so he knows how others should love him. I want to exemplify Christ to him on a daily basis. I want the world to see us together and know that I am an imperfect mother who is head-over-heels in love with her very imperfect boy.

I want to spend this season learning to love.

I want to make the ugly beautiful.

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