Monday, February 21, 2011

You Just Have to Go to God

Before I get to the meat of today's post, two quick prayer requests:
  1. One of my dearest and oldest friends was in a motorcycle accident in Indonesia week before last.  She is stable, and her mom and fiance are with her.  She had surgery on her wrist yesterday (it will be a long recovery).  She's still recovering from a severe concussion.  We're not sure about long-term effects on her brain.  Please pray for her!
  2. I head out to the West Texas desert this Thursday to be totally, completely, blissfully alone.  (Thank you, Jesus; thank you, Justin.)  I will have three days to rejuvenate.  I'm devoting this time to my novel.  PLEASE (I'm begging!) pray that I have clarity, the "flow", and productivity during my trip.  Also, please pray covering over my two little ones and husband while I'm away.
Now, to the meat.....

Today has not been my best day.

Today, I've been the mother I never wanted to be.  You know the one - the person you have judged and sworn I'd never! and How could she?.  Yep, if you could have been near me today, you would have been having those thoughts about me.  I promise.

I'm coming off of four particularly hard days with my three-year-old.  Don't get me wrong - my little man is truly one of the most interesting, amazing, wonderful kiddos I know.  He's articulate, creative, energetic, curious.  I normally love being with him.  But not lately.  Nope, not lately.

Since our family vacation between Christmas and New Year's it's like someone took my precious little boy and replaced him with a monster.  Okay, I'm exaggerating for effect, but sometimes it feels that way.  Needless to say, I have felt a distinct shift in him.  I'm not sure exactly what's happening, but I know something is happening - too many emotions to handle, a testosterone surge, delayed "terrible two's"...something. 

Regardless of what it is, what's relevant here is how I'm responding to it.  So far, not so well.  We argue daily.  Various forms of discipline aren't working.  Today, I broke down in tears.  I just couldn't take one more minute of battle.  Life has felt like a war zone instead of a happy home, no matter what I do.

Why tears?  My all-time best moment as a mom so far (note the sarcasm) came today when I was impatiently, and rudely if I'm honest, telling my son to either get into his Little Gym class, or we were going home.  All the while he is loudly whining, disrupting the class for everyone else, that he is scared.  (Being scared has become a manipulation tool, although it's also valid and real for him a lot of the time.) 

Instead of having compassion when my little man was crying out, "I need you, Mommy; I'm scared", I felt angry.

Angry because I felt like he was manipulating me (in truth, I don't think he was, but in that moment my emotional self couldn't quite get that).  Angry because I know he can do it.  Angry because I know he needs it.  Angry because I know he will enjoy it if he will just get over himself.

I was stressed.  This class was a gift, a gift we can not afford on our own.  I feel pressure to squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of it while we can.

I was out of control.  Emotionally, that is.  What do I do?  How do I respond?  I had no grace to keep a cool temper, listen to him, and, more importantly, listen for the Spirit to show me a way through the tangled web of emotions my son was presenting before me.  Because believe me, sisters, there was no way I was going to untangle this one on my own.

Was he really scared?  If so, was this one of those moments I needed to encourage him to push through?  If so, how?  (That's where I really get stuck - on the how part.)  Is this my fault because I've coddled him too much, and now he's too dependent on me?  WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?  Like I said, I felt out of control.

At the end of the class he continued his new routine of either ignoring me when I ask him to do something or blatantly yelling (and I do mean yelling) NO! while pointing his finger in my face.  That's when I snapped.  After getting him safely buckled into his car seat I paused outside the car for a moment and cried.

Call me a baby, but there you have it.  I guess I should have thicker skin.  I mean, he's only three.  But for some reason, after six weeks of giving it everything I had, I broke down.

A few minutes later I got into the driver's seat.  I was still sniffling.  My son calmly, quietly, kindly said, "Mommy, I'm sorry I fight with you."  I forgave him and thanked him for saying that.  Then he asked, "why are you crying, Mommy?"  I answered him honestly: "because it's very hard for me when you turn almost every interaction with me into a fight.  I love you, Gunnar, and I love being with you.  But that behavior can make it hard."  He paused for a moment and then he said:

"Mommy, you don't have to cry.  You just have to go to God."


During this same six weeks I have been intentionally pouring God into him while praying that these seeds would take root.  I have been asking the Lord to make Himself real to Gunnar.  I have been asking the Lord to let Gunnar hear me when I talk about Him.  Most of the time, I just pour out, never really sure if my actions, words, attitudes are re-presenting God to my children or not.  But with that one phrase, I knew: something was working.  And Gunnar was paying attention.

We continued to talk for a minute when he repeated himself.  "Mommy, you don't have to cry.  You just have to go to God."  I decided not to make God say it a third time.  I told Gunnar, "you're right.  Let's pray."  So in the car on the way home I prayed out loud with my two kids listening in the backseat.  I prayed honestly, rawly, asking God to enter in to my relationship with Gunnar and his relationship with me.  To help us love one another, respect one another, treat eachother with kindness, compassion, patience.  To give me wisdom to be a good authority and to give him grace to submit to me.

Normally when I pray Gunnar interrupts me within the first sentence.  It's almost always with "No, Mommy..." followed by cutting off the prayer in some form or fashion.  This time, he listened all the way to the end and said "amen" when I did.  Yep, he's paying attention. 

And of course, the intensity I had been feeling began to lift as soon as the prayer was over.  I felt a tangible peace settle inside me.  I still feel horrible about today.  I love my son and NEVER want to make him feel bad in any way.  But I also know that God makes up for my lack.  Through the mouths of babes if He has to.

Linking up with Soli Deo Gloria today.  Go check them out!


  1. You know, I've had moments when I see no end. When I think my daughters have ruined me and I have ruined them. But, yes, there God is in the middle, pouring out His grace, making up for our lack, doling out those healing words that I never expected.

    I think the prayer is amazing and has very real effects -- on everyone. The Holy Spirit showed up big time. It's amazing to see and read about.

  2. I too, have had more than I'd care to remember of times when I would be called "that mommy"! They do go through stages..I like to call them identity changes. Prayer defintily...goes without saying. also..25 years later..I wished I would have asked for help more. Not that your not or anything:) I just suffered in silence at home. Also - since your are getting ready to go on a 3 day retreat...God has something really big He is going to share with you. I sometimes see after that everything seemed to " go crazy " right before a big breakthrough. Does that make sense? it's

  3. I've been that mommy before, too. Just remember, tomorrow is another fresh start. I think every once in awhile our kids get into a funk and have their off seasons, just like us. You're doing a wonderful job, and like Tiffini said, God is going to do something wonderful on your 3 days away. And I couldn't agree more that something always happens like this before something exciting. It's like clockwork, almost.

    Hang in there :)

  4. You are not alone. I have SO been there, and in fact, was almost there yesterday with my 4 year old boy. Tears did not flow (this time) but they could have. I love how your son gave you those words - go to God. It is amazing how they do listen, and can be the best teachers. I've had similar moments of revelation with my son, and they are precious. Thank you for this reminder to always "go to God" - the children will either lead us there, or follow.

  5. Not more than a month ago I had a very similar library interaction with my three year old son...and I was brimming with tears...and a woman (heaven sent) encouraged and consoled me. Funny, I've never seen her since but boy, did I ever need her that day! It is so precious to hear this story..."out of the mouths of babes" WOW!

  6. What a beautiful moment to share, especially after all the hard ones. I am praying for you and for your friend.

  7. I can really feel for you, I can feel the sadness and frustration you must have felt. Keep praying for Gunner, you are a great mommy, and that was a sweet moment y'all shared.

  8. First of all, saw your list under beside reading, and I must say I love the Hunger Games too.

    Excited to hear more about your novel.

    Last, the mommy thing is so hard. Hard, hard, hard. We have all been there.

  9. Oh, girl. If I had a dollar for every time I've been in that spot.

    This too shall pass is what we are always told and while it is a true statement, it's still hard in the middle of it all.

    I love that you both stopped and prayed about this together - this will be HUGE for him when he realizes he's pushing your buttons and I find when I do this personally, it takes me down a notch.

    Isaiah 40:11 - He gently leads those with young.

    Oh yes he does. There's all kinds of grace for us mama's out there...

    Enjoy your time writing for three days (turning green with envy) and I'm so sorry about your friend...

  10. Yes, my son is probably pretty close in age to yours and the 3's have been hardest, so far. Exerted and challenging in new ways...

    I have also had some sweet times where I've been so frustrated that he pooped his pants (again;) and he's just sought me showing his sensitive heart.

    And, don't take this the wrong way, but at the homeschool pre-school I am doing with my friend, I taught the kids about Balaam's donkey and when you said his saying what he did--I thought of that. Not that your child is a donkey or that you are trying to curse Israel, but that He loves us enough to open the mouths of others, often unexpected others, so that we can be cut to the heart and seek Him...

    thank you for being so honest and open...this is a gift and you help us all with our struggles in so doing...

  11. I had a day too (with my 2yo). Boy.. it's just hard, isn't it? Dang. Feeling this with you.