My hormones are making me an extra weepy mess these days and just in time for Bennett to really kick his terrible twos into high gear. His most used phrase is "no" and he's recently become a real pill to take places. I remember going through this with Lakin. I know it's developmentally appropriate. I understand that I will not be able to reason him out of a tantrum but it does not stop me from feeling consumed with anger when he chooses to melt down into a hot mess on the floor at the gym, or church, or Target... or any other place we like to frequent and let loose all his "overwhelming feelings" for others to hear and witness. Kid can wail.
You see, I don't make nice, calm, roll with the punches babies. I make fiercely independent, fiery little souls who know what they want (at least they think they do) and who will go down fighting to prove that they have a will and a means to exercise it. Some day I know this will serve my kids well. Once they know what to do with all that determination. But for the moment, I am feeling a bit lost and frustrated at their unwillingness to cooperate. I mean, I'm the momma, so what I say goes. Right?
Here's the thing about walking with your kids through their sin, it almost always makes you wade through your own. I realize that while dealing with yet another melt down over a commercial break on the radio when my two-year-old wants another song or carrying my screaming toddler out of church while my nine-month pregnant body struggles to keep up and my four-year-old runs after me, are par for the parenting course but they show me just how insecure, angry and fearful I really am. I feel insecure that my inability to walk with a happy toddler compliantly holding my hand shows that I am an incapable mother. I fear that those I care about will grow weary (like I often do) of my child and his very typical, but completely intolerable, behavior and will miss the lively, sweet boy who brings so much joy into our lives. And to be totally transparent, it makes me angry when my child dissolves into a disheveled mess over something as trivial as bedtime, being told no to another bowl of cereal or being asked to change his diaper. I know, I'm an unreasonable tyrant.
Helping little people learn to be decent humans is so much work. Sometimes I feel up to the task and other times I feel defeated by what feels like my lack of progress. Nothing has left me in more need of God's grace than becoming a parent. I have come face to face with my own inadequacy and seen just how deep the darkness of my sin runs. It's deep, people. But God still loves me. He still speaks to me. He blesses me immensely and allows me the privilege to try again another day. And that is what has brought me to my knees lately. His mercy is new each morning. And I don't know about you, but every morning I need a whole lot of mercy (and a little cup of coffee). Because this race is long and it's fierce and there is a very real enemy out there waiting to take me out if I let him.
This morning at church I dropped my kittens off and walked into worship feeling pretty in need of grace and a wee bit emotional (we'll blame it on the baby - but my husband was working and my children had proven trying this morning and I was spent). When I feel this vulnerable I simply desire to retreat to my own space. So I sat myself in a new section and prayed to remain alone and ambiguous. I could sense that God planned to love on my heart with worship and that love would make me cry. Maybe a lot. We sang together the song, Victor's Crown and the chorus spoke deeply to my heart.
Every high thing must come down
Every stronghold must be broken
You wear the Victor's crown
You have overcome
You have overcome
Jesus, You have overcome the world
God loves me so much that He allows me to feel defeat, frustration, sadness and my extreme need for Him. He's in the business of humbling and making me holy. Which often involves a serious dose of reality and a good long look in the mirror of my soul to see just how messed up I really am. He breaks the strongholds and exposes the places where pride has allowed me to depend on my own ability and even think I might be pretty dang awesome. And then, when I understand my need He loves me like nothing and no one in this world. He gives me grace when my heart is at its darkest and chooses mercy when I really need a swift kick in the rear. His grace is so good, it almost hurts to receive.
I mean isn't that awesome? I want to love my children like God loves us. I want to choose mercy and grace and not resort to lectures, screaming and resentment. I can feel God changing my heart. But I also recognize that this work in progress will take time.
I am also convinced that sleeping children are salve for a worn out soul and an extra difficult day of parenting. Because who can look at their sleeping child and not be so consumed by love? I have taken to the habit of peeking on Lakin and Ben before I go to bed each night to be reminded of their sweet innocence and my extreme gratitude for their role in our family. And like that, the tantrums and time outs and whining are forgotten for another day.