Excuse me. *cough* Ahem. A-hem.
Do you mind? I'm just trying to get a little work done here.
No, you don't mind at all. I didn't think so.
Ever feel like that? It's been weeks - no, months...no, about two years, actually - of two steps forward, one (or five) steps back. We are in a rock tumbler, and as soon as we get ourselves upright again, it feels like someone sets the thing spinning. Again. Whoosh.
It's quite the exercise.
We see some progress, but it's like watching hair grow.
(Hey, look! My hair is growing. But I'm really bummed that the other picture with me threatening Vince with a spatula didn't turn out. You would've loved it.)
Lo and behold, Reagan can put her pajamas on by herself. Dad, big sister, little sister, all have seen her do this, but when Mommy is on the scene, there is complete helplessness and whimpering...until Mommy realizes she's been conned for months and says, No, I will not help you, let me see you do it yourself.
Forty-eight minutes later and we have victory, Wasilla. Mommy is no longer bamboozled by the pajama issue.
I've also learned that she can put on her own shirts. All of them. And Andrey can zip his own zipper. And work baby-proofs on doorknobs and cabinets. The same helplessness and tantrum ensues every time Mama catches on and enforces independence (though we were really bummed about them conquering the baby-proofs on the doorknobs).
I admit, sometimes I'm a little slow. But when a child refuses to get down from a chair that she or he is standing on and acts helpless and tortured over it, my eyebrows go up more than just a little.
Some things take a lot of time around here. When it takes an hour to put on snowpants because everyone knows you can do it and refuses to help you, there is very little time left for sledding before everyone else comes back inside. There's not a lot of time yet for interruptions to our weekly routine, and we still screen phone calls, ignore solicitors, and miss meetings. It takes a lot of time and effort to do simple things, and sometimes it really stinks.
There was something particularly stinky today. It was a diaper, and the child sitting in it refused to lay down for Mama to change it.
Okay, fine. Mama's got other things to do. Holler when you're ready to get cleaned up, kid.
And I left the bathroom. Sobbing ensued, and it wasn't from me.
I checked every few minutes and repeatedly told the, um, aromatic child to lay down so mama could change the diaper, and watched as she jerked and fretted and protested.
Other than disobedience and opposition, I still don't know what the deal was. What makes someone want to sit in...that...for so long, when someone loves you and wants to help you get cleaned up?
But there is progress. We are learning some letters, learning some songs, learning to sit in timeout. We are learning colors and English. We are doing lots of therapeutic holding (see this post) and it is helping tremendously. It is hard. It is painful, often. Last week I thought I was wrestling Cujo and felt like I'd been in a car wreck for five days afterward.
The kids are gentle with the cats and usually with their siblings, too. Tantrums at naptime or bedtime almost never happen anymore...well, except for today, but it wasn't me. Promise.
How do I tell a child I love her when she doesn't know love? How do I expect her to trust me when all she has ever known is broken trust? I prove it. I earn it...When a child bites me, hits me, or looks into my eyes and tries to shove me away so she can hurt me before I hurt her, when a child overeats to the point of vomiting because she was once so hungry and is afraid of that hunger or she hides food under her covers "just in case"...what then?
I love anyway. I get on my knees and I cry to God about the hurt they have experienced and I ask Him why. And then I remember that a good God who wants good for His children can only give good. I remember that all of this, even this hard part, is working for the good in their lives, for the good of God and His kingdom. I remember that these hardships are gifts that He is using to strengthen us as a family and in Him so that He may transform us into His likeness.
- Katie Davis, Kisses From Katie
But I'm not as slow as some people think. I had a conversation (of sorts) with someone this week who is also sitting in a big, stinky mess (of sorts). This person that I love was under the assumption that I didn't know exactly how deep the mess is and would coddle excuses as a result.
But I did know, and have known for a long time. We shouldn't ever mistake grace and love for ignorance...and Beloved, if you are reading this, don't miss your chance to get cleaned up. We love you and still expect greatness.
We can either sit in the stink or get stronger. Our joy is at stake, and healing comes sooner for us and our loved ones when we step into His will and obey.
hey, heard you were up all night
thinking about how your world ain't right
and you wonder if things will ever get better
and you're asking why is it always raining on you
when all you want is just a little good news
instead of standing there stuck out in the weather
when the waves are taking you under
hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger
the pain ain't gonna last forever
and things can only get better
this is gonna make you stronger
Andrey and Reagan were dedicated last Sunday. In the midst of pain and frustration and exhaustion coming from a little less than a dozen directions, one of our pastors chose this verse to read over us.
Praise the Lord!
Happy are those who fear the Lord.
Yes, happy are those who delight in doing what He commands.
Their children will be successful everywhere;
an entire generation of godly people will be blessed.
- Psalm 112:1-2, NLT
It takes a great strength to obey, to pull us out of the stink and into His greatness. It's the only place I want to be.