This morning, I had to take my vehicle in for service and with my youngest child being almost 2 years old, and a serious busy body compared to her three older siblings, I already knew it would be an “adventure.” Despite all my best coping mechanisms, it was not an easy appointment, but I rejoiced in excitement when my husband randomly had an extra long lunch and was done at the same time I was. We met at a little fast food restaurant, which was a huge deal for us because never in his career has he been close enough or had enough time to take a lunch break outside of work. This felt like such a special treat to me after a boring, annoying car related appointment.
During our appointment, I tried the bribery route with my toddler. ‘Mommy will get you this for lunch if you pick up the toys you brought, stop playing with the stuff that’s not yours, etc.…’ but it was to no avail, so I had to follow through with consequences and limited her choices at lunch. When we sat down I explained the entire thing to my husband, and we had a few moments to encourage each other on how we’d survive our fourth go at raising a boundary-pushing toddler.
I felt proud of myself for not having given in and allowed her the choice she wanted, and I felt encouraged through my venting to my husband. That is, until I stole a bite of her food that she had stopped eating. She normally doesn’t seem phased by this, but she was getting close to nap time, and was just all around put off by the morning, so she wailed. On the second cry, I said “If you do not stop crying right now, Mommy is going to take you and go sit in the van.” She didn’t stop. So, I stood up to gather her, her left overs, and our belongings up to yet again follow through with another consequence when it happened. There beside us was an older couple, and the man said, “Sounds like a spoiled child to me.” I immediately felt so insulted as a mother, trying to do right, and defensive for my daughter who was not a spoiled child, and is instead a tired 23-month-old toddler who can’t communicate her frustrations the way we can.
With my crying daughter in my arms, I said “Actually, if you knew us at all, you’d know she is not spoiled at all, thanks!” and I stormed off to the van repressing most of my anger, and reminding myself I am a Christian and I need to act accordingly. Sometimes it seems easier to act, then ask for forgiveness, doesn’t it? My husband climbed into the van with me to finish our lunch, and the tears flowed from me like crazy! I am sensitive, but generally not a crier, but I just couldn’t stop. Maybe it was the morning I had already had, the fact that I was feeling so challenged by my toddler, the fact that it seemed much easier with our other children, who knows. But for whatever reason, I was a hot mess sitting there crying in my van so hurt.
My husband eventually left to return to work, and I still cried the entire drive home. It seemed the more I cried, the angrier I was too, and yet it seemed so pathetic. “Lord,” I cried out, “Why is this bothering me so much? You know me and my daughter, you know I’m doing the best I can and that she is too, so why is one stranger’s insensitivity bothering me so much?’ I felt weak and foolish.
I give my all to the world, I’m cheerful, pleasant and polite when I go out in public. I’m helpful, friendly and bubbly to all I come across in my journeys. I pride myself on being that way, but that doesn’t mean the world will show me the same courtesy and respect. Today was a reminder of that. I really felt reminded that I need, even more, to continue being full of light when I go into this world because it is so dark, and people are so miserable that they can’t see a parent trying and ignore the child for the few seconds it takes to get the child out of the restaurant or under control. People are so judgemental they don’t think things like “that poor child, I hope she’s okay whatever the issue is.” They instead turn to insults. I will not let this world break me. It may steal my joy for a few minutes, but I am going to continue bursting forth with love and shining bright. I will not let darkness take control of me, and I will not treat people the way I am being treated, but rather I will treat them how I want to be treated. I felt encouraged and motivated by that. Perhaps this man never raised kids and has no grace for children in general. Maybe he has a grandchild who is spoiled rotten and its taken his patience from him. Maybe he had a worse morning than I did and was just in a bitter place. I don’t know, and I won’t ever know. Yet more reason to add joy to the world.
I couldn’t help but smile when I noticed a bible verse shared in my social media that summed up how I felt so perfectly, “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11. My Christian friends, how will you go out into the world tomorrow and show God’s glory and love? How can you reflect joy despite whatever is going on around you?
Still I felt foolish and weak, so I went to God in prayer again trying to understand why I cried so much. Honestly, it was out of character for me and I really wanted to see what application I could take from this experience and that’s when it hit me: I had done all that I could as a parent in that moment, and yet it still wasn’t “enough” to please. Someone still was bothered by me enough to be insulting. An experience God must feel every moment.
God does everything he can for us, the fact that he gave us Jesus and all we need to do is accept Jesus to be saved proves it. He instilled in all believers the Holy Spirit to guide each of us, that little voice you hear, or the impulse you just can’t shake. He provides for us all that we stand in need for, including an entire book of 66 books that are full of wisdom, instructions and love. He gave us a beautiful world to live in, full of nature, vegetation, sunsets and millions of other beautiful things. He provides comfort and peace when we seek it, and when we know who we are in Christ, we are literally drowning in His love. He did the best he could, and yet, we still hear people saying its not good enough, God’s not good enough, He’s not right. Things don’t go the way they want them to, people hurt them, they have a misguided view of Jesus from our culture or a misguided zealously religious person, and immediately they attack with their words. God is not good enough. He did this wrong or that wrong despite them having no theological understanding of God, just as this man had no concept of me as a parent, they shame and condemn God.
The sadness I felt, having done all that I could, pales in comparison to the sadness God must feel when people who don’t even know Him, or understand Him or His ways reject Him. I just had my feelings hurt, but He is being rejected by the ones who He created. The enemy in this world is winning them over with ignorance, anger and bitterness.
If I cried that much for a moment of insult, how much more does God cry for his lost children? How much more hurt is He when we reject Him with our ignorance, our anger, our unbelief, our lack of knowledge, or our bitterness? I hope you can see in my words that God does love you more than you can ever imagine. Can you spend some time reflecting on the fact that you are “perfectly and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14.) ❤