Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bigger Picture Moments: God as a Mother

I have red, swollen scratches on my chest from Landon's kneading fingertips.  He paws and pinches while he nurses.  A baby kitten with drunken eyes half-shuttered, pushing against his mother's softness.  Sometimes I pull his fist away to ease the sting.  Sometimes I let him claw.  His pushing is instinctual; my body, the cushion against which he can find his own strength.

But those inflamed lines don't really hurt me.  They are fleeting and sweet.  And Lauren's little-girl wildness doesn't hurt me.  She is still learning to reign in that fire for life which most of us have controlled into something (sad) like respectable stoicism. 

It's something else that's hurting me, and I feel powerless against it.  It is the attitude of a beautiful six-year-old girl. 

She is smack in the middle of childhood and there is so much to learn about life right now.  About society.  Friendship and respect and doubt.  About allowing others to be different.  And about trusting those around you to listen to simple words without devolving into demands to make yourself heard.  About love.

Six is hard for Mia right now.  Not every day; she is funny and smart and sweet in giant swaths and for days on end.  But the hard parts are overpowering in their negativity.  Part of it, I know, is just normal brain-stretch and soul-growth that every child travels through on the way to being big.  (Isn't it?  Please tell me it is...)  But oh -- the other part?  Seems inherent to this darling girl. 


She is fierce.  She is always right.  She does not hear the rudeness in her voice, nor does she understand how it makes others feel -- about themselves and about her. 

I could punish her into submission, but that would remove any spark of the beautiful strength that lies behind her force.  I could command, matching her tone with an anger of my own, but that would fill her with conviction: to be heard, it's okay to yell and demand and control.  I love her through it, but those moments of argument and stubbornness and anger -- they hurt.

And this, surely, must be what God feels for us.  We rail and stomp or ignore completely, and the mother-heart of God listens.  Hopes for our about-face.  Understands that life is a maze of external and internal, choices and obligations, love and hate.  Waits patiently while guiding us with an absolute fulfillment of love.

It hurts God, I'm sure.  Watching us turn away from truth and towards self-satisfaction.  Our mother God has birthed us into being and endured our scratching fingertips and set us into the world, where we must live and learn. 

And right now, I'm trying to learn that my own mother-heart is filled enough with God's grace to extend it to my child.  I can endure the fingernails that draw beads of blood over my heart.  I can endure the pinching words and angry faces that are flung carelessly in my direction.  I can embrace the beauty and accept the challenge. 

Because I have a mother God who does the same for me.  She endures my mess of disbelief and doubt and confusion, and sees the true me behind every expression of anger. 

Mia's pushing is instinctual.  So I will be her cushion.  Firm enough to resist a few puncture marks, tender enough to absorb her fierceness, soft enough to give it back as love. 


I will let her find her strength against me.  But I will not be so overcome as to be paralyzed with hurt.  I am tender, but I am not wilting.

And we will make it through this. 




We're seeing the Bigger Picture through simple moments -- moments that force us to stop and take notice of the ways our worlds are important, meaningful, and beautiful. Please join us at Melissa's place today! Grab the button, link up, and read a few others to encourage them as they walk this journey of intentional living.

23 comments:

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    1. Thank you, Shalini ;) I'm glad you stopped by!

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  2. Love this! Am struggling with how much obedience to insist upon from my four year old versus loving direction; and while I'm not happy to read that this dance could continue til 6 and beyond ~ I so appreciate the inspiration and imagery of our God mother encouraging and guiding us as we parent our littles.

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    1. Oh, the obedience. Or the LACK thereof! This is such a struggle for us, because I feel in my heart that her learning right from wrong and beneficial from harmful is a LONG process, but the lure of immediate obedience is so strong sometimes. Just keep on, mama -- we're in this together!

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  3. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful! May we all be cushions that are the perfect balance of soft and firm. Thank you for this!

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    1. Thank you so much, Jennifer -- for reading and understanding!

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  4. Oh, my nearly seven year old is there too. Pushing. Pulling. She can e cruel. To me and her sister (but not the baby thank goodness). And I need to remember, in this moment of pure fatigue, that love is the way. Thank you.

    Maybe, if I am very lucky, I'll find something like positive discipline, which saved us when she was two. Maybe I just need to let go. And trust that loving-kindness will bring her back to her brightest self.

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    1. The cruelty is what hurts the most, I think, and it's not constant, but it's there often enough that I just wonder -- does she not notice? Six (and seven, for that matter) is really so *small* in the scheme of life. I know there's still time for her to begin to understand.

      Let me know what positive discipline works for you -- I love it and trust it, but always forget what to do in the heat of the moment.

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  5. I was raised by someone who had no sense of that cushion (and, really little awareness of God). My children, I believe, received from me much more of what you describe here. And I am profoundly grateful to have married a spiritual man and to have learned from his family and from God how to be that cushion you so eloquently describe. Because even at 51, I feel a longing for that piece of God that I think could have (should have?) been in my mother. I'm not mad about it...it just leaves a longing. God has filled up so much, and my husband and chidren have filled up so much...but nothing completely 'fixes' the hole left my a mom who only knew how to push back, to push away...and not to absorb. This is really beautifully expressed.

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    1. I'm glad that you have grown apart from the constant pushing, Adrienne! I worry that some days, I'm pushing back against her more than I'm cushioning -- I needed to write this to remind myself :)

      My own mom was very cushion-y and I look to her example as well. It seemed effortless for her, but -- I wonder...

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  6. Oh how I love your inspiring words....what a wonderful perspective! Just last night I was so frustrated and exhausted at how disrespectful Savannah can be, I mean I know she's only 4 but she is old enough to be aware of others and their feelings...I have witnessed it. But oh sometimes....she makes me want to pull my hair out and wonder what I've done wrong or what I should be doing better or more of. So you are right, it is just as we are with God and hopefully this will change my attitude, not just toward my children, but towards my God! As always, thanks for your beautiful writing!! Oh and I just couldn't help but smile at those pics of Mia, especially that second one and those oh so blue eyes! You know they save their worst for their mamas......I still think she is as sweet as can be!

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    1. Frustrating and exhausting -- those sum it up ;) I've been having NUMEROUS talks with Mia about other people's feelings, and some days it sinks in beautifully. Then she wakes up the next day with a giant frown. One step forward, two steps back. And I blame myself, too.

      Aren't those pictures funny? The first one I took, she really *was* mad, but then I popped out the real camera and made her laugh trying to get an *authentic* frown. So half-smiling-frown was born :)

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Katie!

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  7. I believe I have seen those faces on MY soon to be five year old. This post speaks to me in so many ways as both boys are going through what you are describing. G will bite me and pound his fist in my chest at the mear sound of the word no. And E, well you can't tell him anything because he's almost five and he knows it all. His rude words and "I hate yous" cut to the bone sometimes. But like you said I don't want to squelch his spirit I need to be patient and watch it evolve. Moulding it little by little over time. Thanks so much for this, because when I go home tonight I will remember this and I will repeat over and over in my head "show him grace." "show him grace."...

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    1. I'm so encouraged by all of these other wonderful mamas who experience the frowns and fights. Universal is good, if difficult for all of us! But the little by little molding -- we just need to know others are going through it, too, to make it feel less frightening.

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  8. Sarah!!! You make me cry every. dang. time!! Your writing is so sincere and your love for your kids is so apparent. My own six year old is quite a challenge sometimes too. I wonder if it's just the age, or the influence from others at school. Either way, I need to remember to be a little more cushion-y and not so quick to push back. Thank you for your words (and wisdom).

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    1. Aww, thanks Cortney! I don't know what the reasons are -- I just know it's hard. And she's only six.

      And I don't know about wisdom! Mostly? I just fumble my way from moment to moment ;)

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  9. And someday she will know (and that day may even come long before she humbles herself enough to tell you so). She will know your love and perhaps even what it cost you. And if she is blessed with a child, she will understand the why and the how. The perfect Easter post for mothers!

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    1. Oh, May -- thank you! I hope she'll grow to know the truth -- that I love her desperately, and can't bear to see those angry frowns!

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  10. Oh hon, what a beautifully written piece. I ache with you, I really do. But I'm so amazed and filled with wonder at your grace through this hard time. I'm sure she'll get through this, and as she gets older, with you to guide her, be able to understand how her actions affect others. I'm still sending you hugs to get hold on to through the hard spell though!

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  11. My thoughts are graceful enough, upon reflection, but it's the heat of the moment that sees me being less-than gracious. But it's a process. We're learning together -- and maybe that's the deeper truth: she and I are practicing everything together. Me, how to be a mother. Her, how to be a person. We are each other's firsts. Not an easy place to be!

    Thank you for the hugs!

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  12. Your last reply to Jade (we are each other's firsts) was exactly what I was going to comment upon. Sometimes it isn't just the "pushing" and the "cushioning" it is that the first borns will always be our first venture in ____________________ fill in the blank. You know what I mean? You do right by following your heart-gut and staying firm when need be. This post was wonderful. Just like all of your posts. And Mia will see by example as well as through words and pushing how to treat others, and then someday her very own child if she chooses.

    Hugs! Alita

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  13. Thanks for this, Sarah. My 7 yo is exactly there. And I'm in uncharted waters. It helps so so much to know that I'm not swimming alone. And neither is she. Yor words, as always, will stay with me.

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  14. What a beautiful piece filled with such truth of God's love for us -- like that of a mother's tangled up in the all-powerfulness of a Father. Lovely, Sarah.

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Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?