It was barely 9:00am. My son’s sticker chart was ruined, his time-out chair was hot, and our marble jar was empty.
And I was all three.
I locked my door and hurled my tried-and-true parenting book at the wall. I wanted to tear the room apart, but the weight of failure buckled my knees. I dropped to the carpet and sobbed mad tears: This isn’t working. I don’t have with it takes to raise this child. Lord, help me.
My humble, desperate plea brought the Spirit. I don’t know how to explain it other than it was like the opening of a window …
My child, if you – or that book – had the answers, you wouldn’t be on your knees right now. This is where you belong.
I sat in His presence until I saw things new…
I had been trying to make my son fit into a program; to respond the way his older siblings did. I was angry because he wasn’t like the imaginary kids in my thrown book.
I prefer a life that can be broken down into chapters and tokens. If I’m honest, I’ll admit I prefer efficiency to a mysterious God. Unchecked, my preferences offer my son – and the world – a set of religious practices while withholding a unique, personal, and wild Creator. Lord, have mercy.
And I realized the same God who can love and shape me, a Christian woman who hates dresses and cooking – who likes her coffee black and her beer cold – with a sarcastic humor and a quick wit – is all I need to love and shape an eccentric preschooler who’s not motivated by stickers.
True, God sometimes leads us to helpful authors or experts, but I doubt it’s as often as we think. I have shelves of books, hours of commentary, and Google at my fingertips, but they usually leave me overwhelmed and paralyzed.
In matters of love, they all fall short. Here, I need the Word Himself.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
This is where you belong, He said.
I unlocked my door, and found my little son still on his time-out chair. Bless. I hugged him hard, and whispered against his sweaty little head…
I love you. I’m sorry I’ve been so preoccupied with things that aren’t for you. God will show us our way, He will.
He couldn’t have understood my words, but his body relaxed in my embrace. Even the weakest souls can sense a new hope.
I learned to first sit humbly at the Spirit’s window, and my confidence in God’s guidance grew slowly over time. Eventually, and often painfully, I learned what makes my unique son tick and how to speak his language.
Mostly, I learned how a holy God can love a weak, unconventional daughter like me.
Now, my kids are all in their teens and early twenties, and I can’t tell you how we made it. All I have to offer is a variety of small, messy stories of a big, faithful God. This is enough.
Friend, in matters of love, quiet the unworthy voices. Seek the only One who paves your path with extraordinary grace and loved you first. I’ll be cheering you on in my own way …
And Lord willing, at the end of the day, we’ll still have all our marbles. 😉
Child photo: Dmitry Ratushny
Puddle photo: Jordan Whitt