It is 5 am and I am awake because my sweet Grace, at 4 am, had quite the meltdown. Every once in a while Grace kind of spins into hyperdrive and throws a killer fit. She can, if we let her, control our household for a long time in this mode. In times like tonight, traditional discipline does not work. But what does work, we have found, is isolation. If I put her in her room, I can quietly hold her doorknob from the outside and force her to stay in her room alone. For some reason this kind of resets her, and she will snap out of the cycle of arguing and crying. For about 3-5 minutes, while I hold her doorknob, usually with tears streaming down my face, she will rage and scream and cry in there, but then she will begin to slow down. I will hear her begin to quietly cry. In that moment, I can go back in and find her reasonable. I will hold her in my arms, speak to her lovingly, affirm our care for her and our love for her, and I can tuck her back in her bed where she will finally sleep. When she is in this mode, this is the only thing we have found will work.
Why do I tell you this extremely personal part of our parenting? Because I know, during the time she is in her room alone, that in that few minutes, she feels abandoned. Out of control. Unheard. She doesn’t know that outside of her door is a mom who understands her exhaustion. Who knows her nature and knows that, for some reason, this brief time out is what she needs. She doesn’t know how much I pray as I hold her door. How I cry out to God to comfort and care for my child. How my heart breaks to hear her cry. How close I am, ready to come in and hold her as soon as she will let me.
Part of loving Grace means that, sometimes, my job is to show her that she is not the center of the universe and that she cannot, through violent fits or brilliant manipulation, control everyone around her. It is not a fun part of my job. I do not delight in it. It terrifies me, frankly. But I do it.
Psalm 44 is a passage where David talks about how he believes God has abandoned him. He has felt, over time, the cooling of his relationship with the Lord. I can relate to that. I know that has happened in my life, not only in times with the Lord, but with important human relationships. I am struggling through that right now with some people close to me. I’m sure we have all had relationships that are vital, but for some reason, the person pulls away. And it hurts. We feel rejected. Like we are “too much.” We may even, like Grace, rage a little.
But I wonder if sometimes, with the Lord, He has hidden His face for our good. To reveal sin. To reset us to realize we are not the center of our universe. To show us we are not in control. If there is some reason He knows we need to walk (seemingly) alone. I wonder if He doesn’t stand, just out of reach, feeling our pain, counting the seconds until He can hold us in His arms again. If He loves us with a perfect love, many times more than I love either of my girls, then of course He could not just coldly abandon us. The Bible talks about His discipline in Proverbs 3: My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.
I feel like parenting has helped me understand the Lord in such a new way – and this morning was another of those moments. I understand the idea of loving discipline like I don’t know I did before. And so I can only pray, in those moments where I feel rejected and, like Grace, want to scream and throw things, that I will turn to the Lord and, like David, pray:
Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?
We are brought down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground.
Rise up and help us;
rescue us because of your unfailing love.