I have had the most perspective-altering day today.
This morning, I had the chance to sit down with a dear friend and catch up. She is a light in my life – I doubt she knows the impact she has had on me through the years. She knows quite a bit about our situation, and she was telling me about her times of difficulty in the past and the faithfulness of God through those times. She encouraged me to not be afraid of the humbling work of God. In fact, she encouraged me to walk in it. She used examples from her life and the life of her kids to show me the value in what I am going through. Little did my sweet friend know about the day I would have.
Early this afternoon, my sweet Grace had a very public meltdown at the end of her tumbling class. It began as a moment of defiance, and escalated into a full-out fit at Keller Pointe in front of about 40 people. It was one of those times we all love as parents where we are carrying a screaming kicking child out of a public place and we see people staring at us and we know they are thinking, “Why can’t that woman control her child?”
She was the recipient of a spanking, and when we got home, I sat her on our bottom step and got on my knees in front of her to ask her why she had gotten a spanking. She looked at me, and her little face crumpled as she struggled to tell me, through tears. “Gracie didn’t listen to Ms. Jeanie. Gracie was disobedient.” She then continued and told me why she didn’t listen – that she didn’t want to do the crab walk but wanted to come rest with me. I don’t think I will ever forget that little face crumble. I looked at my sweet girl’s face, as she struggled to keep it together, and I began to cry. I thought to myself, “I never realized that obedience is such tough work.” She threw herself in my arms and held onto me tightly, crying. I held her and carried her upstairs, telling her over and over that I loved her. I can’t even begin to explain my love for this baby girl or how proud I am of her. I know how much she tries. Her meltdowns are occasional tiny bumps in the road with our wonderful joyful child. But I also know I have to discipline her when she does disobey. I am commanded to and I know it is good for her soul. But there is nothing about spanking my child or watching her fall apart that gives me joy. In fact, it breaks my heart. Even writing about it now I am crying. I love her with all of my being – likely more than she will ever be able to understand, at least until she is a mom herself.
I carried her upstairs and tucked her in and prayed for her before her nap. I said something like “Dear Jesus, thank you for our Gracie. We are so proud of her. Please continue to help Gracie learn to be obedient and let her know how much mommy and daddy love her.” As I was praying, Gracie interrupted and said “and help Gracie listen to Ms. Jean and not get spankin’s.” I laughed to myself because I knew then that she understood. I hugged her and told her I loved her. She fell immediately asleep and slept for over four hours. She woke up renewed and was wonderful the rest of the day. My sweet baby was just exhausted – that was what was behind the rebellion in the gym.
I, on the other hand, have been tearful all day about it. I just couldn’t shake it off. I love her so much. I don’t want to see her humbled, certainly don’t want to be the instrument of it. But I know the truth that she can’t be allowed to wreak havoc in public (or private) uncorrected. I have a role to play in her development that isn’t always pleasant. But I do my role in love because I also know her weaknesses. I know that she really only has these meltdowns when she is tired or hungry or not at her best. So I understand. Her meltdown today didn’t make me love her less, or make me feel she is less worthy of love. In fact, I don’t think I could love her more than I did today during this whole episode. I am overwhelmed with my love for Grace.
I thought my lesson on humility was over, but tonight I had to do something pretty humbling. I had to basically ask for mercy from a debt. I had good reason to ask, legitimate reason, but it was still incredibly difficult. I shook as I made my request. Afterwards, I laid in my bed, tears pouring down my face, and I prayed. I needed to talk to my Father. So I came to the Lord in humility. I confessed to the Lord how weak I felt – how much I felt like I was failing. I confessed the sins and shortcomings that He knows so well (even better than I do). I asked Him for grace. For protection. Provision. Forgiveness. In that moment, I felt small. And then He reminded me of my day. I couldn’t help but remember how I felt when Grace’s face crumpled before me on the stairs. How much I loved her in that moment. How proud I was of her. How thrilled I was to be her mom. How much I hurt for her hurt. How much I love that sweet heart that was broken in front of me. And suddenly I saw myself sitting on the stairs in the place of Grace, sitting in front of my Father. I wondered if that is how the Lord felt about me. Did my prayer and confession of weakness make his heart break for me, as mine broke for my tiny girl? Is He overwhelmed with his love for me? Does He hurt when I hurt? Does he understand my weaknesses and love me despite them? Does it hurt Him to see me struggle to understand and obey? Would he do anything for me? Would he give His life for me?
It was a pretty powerful, perspective-altering thing. To put myself in the place of Grace – crying on the stairs – in front of my Father made me see myself, and Him, in a totally new way. I don’t know that I will ever come to Him in prayer quite the same.
Tonight I am exhausted, frankly. Physically and emotionally spent. I needed to write this and process it, but now I am going downstairs to go to sleep, just like my tiny girl went to sleep after I prayed with her. But it is kind of amazing to think that my Father, who loves me, is going to have me on His mind all night, just as Grace has been on my mind all day. That He is planning good things for me and my family, and wants to bless me because He loves me. I am forgiven and free. I am His child. I am loved. I can rest.