As a child, I dreamed of becoming a parent. The visions of pushing a smiling baby in a stroller, accompanying a preschooler to the first day of school, fun birthday parties, exciting Christmas mornings created mind pictures of my expectations of parenting.
And so I was blessed with my first child in 1998. I never thought I could love someone so much (except my husband:)) There were challenges for sure-no sleep, the constant feedings, diaper changings, entertaining a child in the midst of attending a professional meeting. But hey-the child is needy and thriving from the love wrapped around him.
With the additions of baby number #2 in 2000 and baby number 3 in 2003, a harsh reality of the human condition began to surface in our children:human will and the quest for independence.
It began when I saw my one year old son throw his juice cup out of anger. I was stunned. I didn’t realize that children that young were capable of feeling such intense emotion and expressing it in such an intense way. It was a reminder of our human nature-frustration when things don’t go according to OUR expectations.
As my kids grew, the challenges in this area became more intense, frequent, and exhausting. It’s no wonder that one of the first words a child learns is “No.” “It’s time for a nap”, “No”, No more juice (for the umpteenth time), One time, my daughter in her walker managed to pick up the dog’s bone. I found her chewing on it and upon quickly removing it from her grasp, a tantrum erupted. “Why would you want that? I have something so much better for you (even if it’s a frozen teething ring with no taste)” It was at that time that I had a glimpse of myself as my daughter and the ways I have responded to God’s tough love to me.
“That job is not right for you”, “Florida is not where I want you to relocate (O.K. that was a tough one)”. Those are the big ones but my days are filled with many mini-battles of the will between my Creator and me.
Helping my children learn submission of the self is becoming exhausting and; at times, heartbreaking. Feeling their hurt as priviledges and objects are taken away is gutwrenching. I’ve been there. If they only understood that I’m doing what’s necessary to motivate them to want better attitudes, behaviors for themselves.
And ultimately to become more like God.
Feeling that heartbreak allows me to have a glimpse of how God feels when we fight for our own will. It allows us to glimpse the magnitude of sadness, compassion, and mercy that God has for us.