Friday, October 23, 2009

Light and Dark

Sometimes I don't feel capable of feeling the high of light and the depth of dark at the exact same moment. Instead, I tend to feel nothing, hoping to escape the dark unscathed and not truly experiencing the joy of the light. Why? I don't know exactly. But what I do know is that the this tendency has built up a callousness around my heart making it difficult to love and know love in meaningful ways. This translates into my relationship with God, others and, even, myself, I think. It might sound a little psychobabble-ish but it's true.

While I want to appear as if I'm okay with the variety of my experiences being a mom, really, I'm not. I judge the way that my experience of being a mom does not seem like a blessing. I am ashamed when I'm with groups of other moms and I can't find one positive thing to say about being Wyatt's mom. I get angry with God, thinking, "Why did He allow me to become a mom, knowing that I would not delight in any of it?" I feel bad about these thoughts crossing my mind, as I had so hoped to be a mom and can distinctly remember pleading with God to have a child.

As I type, the "I's" are springing from the page. I, I, it all about me? Apparently. Perhaps being a mom and staying self-focused is not a good fit?

In addition to my deep commitment to all things me, it has also become a pattern to not grieve losses. What difference does this make? It, again, hardens my heart (as my commitment to not feel the pain of loss increases) and distances me from my Father who wants to meet me in the grief and remind me of who He is and how He has redeemed all things for His purposes to restore my hope and faith in His goodness and glory. Without depth in this primary relationship, I no longer know how to trust in the goodness of God during inevitable pain and loss. Cynicism and sadness grow exponentially.

God is helping me to face up to these realities and is revealing Himself. I wish I could kick this selfishness but it lingers daily. My pride leads me to believe I'm a judge, thinking I know what's up and defining what is and is not acceptable to feel.

Part of the process is learning how to grieve in a meaningful, God-honoring way. I don't even know where to begin (though I've been given some great suggestions) but am trusting that God will continue to be a God of comfort, acceptance, transformation and love, and will empower me with courage to continue facing up to life as it is. A good friend recently shared Isaiah 43:18-19 with me and it rings especially true today.

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! (I did not add this exclamation point for emphasis, it's actually there.) Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."

Here's to a new thing. (I can't add my own exclamation point yet.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Mother/Father's Love and a Pumpkin Patch

Yes, that reads 33lbs. Thanks, Holly, for the great shot.
See above for example of small tantrum. I did force a photo shoot. How could I?

Yesterday I had the most meaningful experience to date as a parent. I'm not sure if I'll be able to capture it in words but I'd like to try.

It was time for Wyatt's nap and there was a crowd of people at my parent's house where we spent the weekend. I scooped him up and said my usual, "It's time for rest," and he went nuts. I think it was our first full blown fit/tantrum/I-don't-even-know-what-to-call-it. (To be clear, we have smaller ones all the time but something was different about this on.) As I carried him in my arms back to the bedroom, he flailed his arms and arched his back while screaming, "No, no, no, no, no..." and crying hysterically. We got to the bedroom and I closed the door behind us. (The best part of my parent's house is the unusually high placement of all doorknobs.)

The screaming picked up at this point, as he realized that the rest was, indeed, going to happen. I didn't know what to do (Garett's the patient parent) and quickly debated between two options. 1. I can lay him down in his bed quickly and let him cry it out. I figured he was crying anyway and a little extra crying wouldn't hurt. 2. I was second-guessing the speed with which we went from playing to resting and thought, maybe, I could just take him out to say goodbye and ease into the rest a little more gently.

Neither option seemed good so I decided to try something new. I figured it couldn't hurt and asked God to give me a little boost of energy to hang in there with my writhing-on-the-floor boy. By this time he was hitting his head against the door, still screaming. I found a book in the closet with Bible stories in rhyme and began to read it quietly. From time to time, I would get up from my chair and go over to him and say something like, "Wyatt, I love you so much. I am sad to see you so sad. It is time for a rest." This continued for maybe 10 minutes.

As I read and spoke gently to him, he began to turn his body toward me. After the turn, he would take one step and then stop. He slowly moved toward me sitting in the chair reading while he continued gurgling through his tears. Finally, he got to me and asked me to lift him up. He was still crying but beginning to melt a bit. At last, he nestled his head into my chest, held his blanket close and listened to the book. We read for quite some time, as I soaked in what had just happened, and hoped the tears would subside.

Watching Wyatt's process reminds me of how I desire to be in relationship with God. Not the tantrum part (although, sometimes it is my reality) but the moving toward our loving, long-suffering Father, still hurting, perhaps, and unsure of how things will turn out but moving toward nonetheless. I picture God loving me with his perfect mix of grace and truth, delighting in me as I am and transforming me into who he wants me to be. The transforming nature of the gospel compels and inspires new ways of being and responding to pain. In that moment, I got a tiny glimpse of the transforming power of love and I think God allowed this experience for that reminder.