Monday, June 24, 2013

Tantrums

My oldest son Jacob was 4 when I experienced my first tantrum from the parent's perspective.  Yes, I realize I was extremely fortunate that it took that long into his little life before I found myself confronted with a mad little man.  If you know Jacob it probably doesn't surprise you though.  I can actually remember exactly where we were when it happened, standing at two different ends of the aisle in a shoe store.  I'd told him "no" to something he wanted and walked away fully expecting he would obediently follow suit and let me lead him down the aisle and out the store.

When I got to my end of the aisle and looked back Jacob still stood at his post, defiant.  Once he knew I was watching he threw himself on the floor and began to pitch a tizzy of a fit.  I stood there in shock. I'd never seen anything like it, at least not from my kid. I just stood watching, my jaw dropped.

For those few of you who actually follow my blog, you may have read recently about the struggles of my spiritual walk, I've talked about deserts and my own personal version of a Mexican standoff between God and I.  It's been a very strange season, unlike any I've ever experienced before. Most recently I have just simply been without will or desire to even pray or read the Word.  I was speaking with some friends recently and I explained that it was a lot like a cold season in marriage, where there wasn't a lot of conversation beyond business (like praying over a meal or with my children, attending church, etc) going on between God and I.  My friend described it perfectly, it was like I was in the living room and He was in the den. 

I'm not actively in rebellion, no blatant sin to address, I'm just sort of there-- at least that's how I've been describing it. Then this morning I picked my bible up for the very first time in a while and turned to the passage that best addresses the last thing I feel I heard God say, "Be still."  I turned to Psalm 46.

Suddenly the word picture of the tantrum popped clearly into my mind, and I realized God and I were standing at opposite ends of the aisle, and because I knew He was watching, I had been very willfully throwing my very own personal fit, a tantrum for the books.

As a mom for over 19 years now, Jacob's first tantrum while most memorable was far from the only one I have since experienced from the parent perspective.  Quite the contrary, there have been far too many to count or recall.  But what I can remember is the different ways I have responded since that first time.  Shock was far from the abiding response.

I remember in the earlier days of my parenting actually holding the misconception that my child's tantrum was somehow about me, or a reflection on what kind of parent I was.  I remember being embarrassed or even humiliated and walking right over to my little one and grabbing them by the equivalent of the nape of the neck and dragging them out of a store, park or restaurant.  I remember having angry responses at times, yelling back or stomping my foot and adding to the spectacle with a grown-up sized tantrum of my own.  But in my better moments as a mom, those times where I was walking like I ought to be walking, abiding in the God who is the best parent example of all. 

It's when all those things are lined up appropriately that I responded in the most loving way as a mom when my youngster is flailing about on the floor.  I just simply stand by and watch, waiting patiently until the little sucker wore him (or her) self out. 

Whether it be unto exhaustion or reason, I would just simply wait till the tantrum was over and then address the child that came out the other side.  I always felt like such a good mom when I was able to keep my cool and respond that way in those moments.

So as I picked up my bible I realized what was actually happening was that God had not been in some Mexican standoff with me at all.  He'd just been standing at His end of the aisle waiting for me to follow through that tantrum unto reason or exhaustion, and I suppose the reality is God has out-waited me unto both.  I'm tired from the fit and realizing I have accomplished nothing from it at all, but I am grateful that my Father has continually stood and waited for me to find my wits and focus again.

I think the shock of Jacob's first tantrum buffered me from a foolish reaction.  I remember that day just standing back and watching.  I waited till he was done.  When he finally sat back up from the flailing and kicking on his belly, I asked, "Are you done?"  He nodded, a little defeated.  "Ok, get up. Let's go." And he did.  He stood and walked to me at my end of the aisle.  I didn't give in, I didn't change my decision, I just took him by the hand and led him out of the store. 

It wasn't Jacob's last tantrum, even if he did learn a lesson the ineffectiveness of throwing one. I'd like to say this will be my last tantrum before the Lord, but I can't with any confidence, I don't have that much faith in me.  But I am grateful that God, not shocked, is standing there and taking my hand, leading me on, maybe out of this desert, maybe not.  But either way, the reminder is set, He's still here, in His love unfailing ready for me to walk with Him whenever I'm willing to get out of my tantrum and back up off the floor.


Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
Selah
There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
Selah
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.

1 comment:

JESSICA REYNOLDS RENSHAW said...

Wow. So a propos! At the age of 69 God is facing me with my tendency to throw tantrums--by letting me have to deal with my older brother throwing them! My tantrums in response only make everything 100 times, almost irrevocably, worse.

This post really helped me. God is waiting until I stop. Hmm. I didn't realize that. All I knew was I have got to develop self-control and I should have started decades ago!!!

You have such wisdom. I need to stop commenting to you and start listening to you instead!