It is the music of Christmas that helps me float through the season … nearly stress-free. I wrote a little more about it on (In)Courage today. Please stop on over.
I was fairly certain that I would not survive my daughter’s toddler years.
For a long while, I tried to hide those sentiments. I knew mothers who spent months at the hospital crib-sides of their sick children. I knew mothers who made several 90-mile trips a week to see pediatric doctors who specialized in autism, autoimmune diseases and blood disorders. I felt that I had no right to feel overwhelmed.
My daughter was healthy … beautiful … bright … lively. Yet, I was overwhelmed.
She threw violent tantrums that sometimes lasted for hours. These were not “ordinary” tantrums and I seldom handled these fits of rage well. However, there were many instances when God’s peace wrapped my frazzled soul with strength and mercy.
I remember one day in our Texas apartment when beads of sweat lined up across her forehead causing wayward strands of hair to matte her cherry red cheeks. With her fists balled, her eyes shooting darts of fury, and her nostrils flaring, my daughter released a deep rage through piercing screams.
Standing in front of my little girl at that moment I inwardly wrestled with my own sadness and anger, which were mixed with feelings of inadequacy. I felt clueless, helpless, and useless. My child had been lingering in that state of wrath for more than thirty minutes…nothing I tried diffused the situation. Ignoring the fit proved futile as did sending her to her room until she calmed down. Issuing consequences only intensified her wails.
I tried every iota of parenting advice I had ever read or heard. It was time to listen to my heart.
Without a word I sat on the floor just inches from my daughter. Firmly gripping her shoulders I pulled her into my arms and I held her tightly while rocking back and forth. At first, she flailed forcefully trying to escape my embrace.
“No Mommy,” she yelled. “No! I’m mad, mad, mad! I don’t want to hug you Mommy. I’m mad. I’m mad. I’m mad!”
In another attempt to break free she bent her knees and with all the might encompassed in her thirty pound body, she pushed her hands against my stomach and, for good measure, bellowed, “Let go of me right now!”
I didn’t let go. Steadied by a calm I am certain was a grace gifted by God, I held my daughter close and gently pressed my lips on her wet head.
Then I whispered into her ear.
“Shhhh. Get control. I know you can do it. I know you are angry, but I know you can get control. Shhhh. Mommy loves you. Let me help you. Let me love you.”
After another minute of squirming, she stopped screaming. She stopped fighting me. Her body went limp from exhaustion and her breathing was loud and heavy. Still, I kept her in my arms and continued giving her gentle kisses until she fell asleep.
I think that recognizing a bit of myself in that raging toddler helped calm me during the most intense moments of that tantrum.
In general, I am calm … even sweet, but a streak of cold fire that courses through me sometimes takes control.
Sometimes the injustices of this world overwhelm me.
Sometimes it is the tight grip of fear that unleashes my wild fury.
There are times when I rebel. Times when I vent my frustration with kicks and screams.
Times when I grit my teeth and think “I’m so mad, mad, mad I could spit!”
There are times when I cannot see past what I want and what I cannot have.
There are times when my Father enters to comfort me and I push Him away. Times when I refuse to open my Bible. Times when I lose my breath , choke on my sobs, and scream “No!”
During those times, even when I’m at my ugliest, God doesn’t let go. He doesn’t get overwhelmed or sickened by the sight of His headstrong daughter.
He stays close, and He teaches me how to regain control … how to be still … and how to allow myself to be loved.
Over at (in)Courage, I have a post up about sleep-overs with my daughter, community and the upcoming (in) Real Life event. Right here today, in our small little community, I’d love to have a discussion about traditions you have that build community. Do you have family picnics? Lunches with girlfriends? A “signature gift” to cheer up a friend? Anything goes. Let’s talk.
Isn’t it delicious? It’s even prettier in person. The brush strokes belong to Jeanne and the message is inspired by God’s Word.
Each time I looked at this lovely canvas today, I thought of Sara.
It may seem hokey to compare a person to a painting, but to me, the similarities are many.
Sara lives her life as a testimony for beauty … for the the truth that God makes everything … every. last. thing. … beautiful at the specific moment that its exquisite loveliness is meant to be taken in.
The ache of knowing that we are losing Sara burrows deep. During the two brief years in which I have been blessed to call her my friend, I have witnessed beauty amid the ugliest circumstances. Whether the scenario was one of frustration, isolation or agony, when Sara described it, a sliver (at the minimum) of beauty surfaced.
Even now, as her body is closing down, Sara is showing others unadulterated, unbridled beauty. She has been committing every last ounce of herself to loving others.
Sara is beautiful. And
her story God’s story about her life is beautiful and will remain so in its time.
Ecclesiastes 3:10 – 11
I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.