How can I find peace in suffering?
We are so emotionally vested in our children. We want to protect them, shield them, defend them at every turn. Prevent them from falling. But what does this do? It stifles growth. I recently encountered a situation where I was so moved to come to my child’s aid and defense, and rightly so. She had been wronged and I was Mama Bear on the prowl. Oh, but mama bear learned so much more in the process.
Not being a person naturally inclined to confront issues head on, I experienced a bit of apprehension. This soon turned to angst, as what I thought would be a peaceable conversation, quickly turned into a whirlwind of anger and bitterness, a need for mediation and what I believed to ultimately be an unfair resolution.
I prayed prior to the encounters. I had already been fasting and praying. Yet, my fasting became more intentional and my prayers more fervent as the conflict sprung its ugly head up, you know how that goes. Just the thought of having this mediation would send my heart racing. I was intent on remaining level headed, and I did. I prepared and rehearsed what I would say, how I would rebut untruths as they came my way. I pictured myself poised, firm, unyielding. Mama bear, ready to defend her cub. A good Christian Mama Bear, of course.
But oh, how reality can disappoint us. The other person’s words were gospel and mine were challenged with exasperated looks, eyes rolling and heavy sighs. I was questioned and doubted by the other person AND the mediator. I had prayed for peace. I prayed for understanding, but it was not on the meeting’s agenda. The one sidedness of the mediation, the anger that seethed from the other end of the table, the insinuation of so many untruths left me feeling stranded, unsettled and with a muddle of thoughts and feelings, unable to adequately defend myself and my child. I felt as if I had failed as a mother and felt like God failed me. He didn’t have my back.
I went home, heart racing, mind swirling, wishing I would have said this and that. Regret. Ugh. My chest burned in anger that I didn’t receive the vindication I deserved and my child’s voice was not heard. Mostly, I was angry that God did not instantly and supernaturally turn me from a non-confrontational, at times diffident person into a fierce, no-nonsense, take no prisoners kind of chick. A miracle at best.
I journaled to release some of the thoughts. Turned on Netflix and allowed Celia to lull me to sleep. Slept for an hour or two, then awoke with the same self-deprecating thoughts. I have no voice. I failed as a mother. I suck at standing up for myself. I feel like such a victim. And, realizing what I had all along, that this was a distraction from the enemy, I returned to a major task before me…finish writing narrations for my church’s Way to the Cross Journey, which is an interactive walk through the stations of the cross.
And, baby, when I put my fingers to the plow, God’s word spoke more loudly and clearly than ever. The burning in my chest dissipated. Coming face to face with Christ’s journey of suffering, suddenly put mine and my child’s suffering, my feelings of being betrayed, cornered and UN-vindicated to shame. Like, FRFR.
Rereading what I had written settled the festering brew of emotions inside me. Reflecting on the disciples not wanting to wash one another’s feet: Where are you harboring that same spirit of loftiness and pride? To whom and in what ways is God calling you to serve in love?
Jesus’ anguised prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Where are you being hard pressed, as if the weight of the world is crushing your hope, your faith, your joy, your relationships? Even in your pain, anxiety, fear and distress, God is calling you to surrender. Listen. How? How is God calling you to let go of your will and make room for God’s perfect will to be done in your life?
Simply put, I wanted to win the debate. I wanted to be treated fairly. I wanted my child to feel protected, heard and supported. And I wanted to win the debate, oh, I said that already. And none of these things happened.
But, what did Christ do when his humanity, his flesh so desired the way of peace, the smooth road, the one where everyone; Pharisees, disciples and wayward women are enjoying froyo together and vibing out to Emily King (love her)? Did he whine about it? Well, yes, if you want be so judgy to call it that. Did he plead for results that he wanted? Yes. Did he feel like God abandoned him? Certainly. But, still, he took up his cross, not for himself, but for the joy set before him.
I am that joy set before him. You are that joy set before him. He rejoices that we can find peace in his suffering as it challenges us to believe, to surrender, to be changed into His holy image. So, just as God allows us to suffer to find our home in Christ, I am challenged to allow my sweet babies to suffer. In hopes that they will grow in their behavioral, communication and coping skills, but even more, so they can become one with Christ and his suffering, just as I, by the grace of God, have done.
So, thank you Lord. Thank you for the courage to defend my seed, though I sometimes suck at telling people like it is. Thank you that I can overparent at times, but underparent at others. Thank you that you did not give me what I wanted in this moment, but you are giving me what I need. And above all else, that desire, that prayer, that burning still appearing in my chest, is ultimately a deep desire for you and your perfect will. So, I choose to surrender. When I don’t, please don’t smite me like the Amalekites. I’m not good at handling being smited or smitten or smote??. But, as you always have and always will, Lord, love me. Be patient with me and give me your grace to surrender, even when they test me Lawd and bring out the Mama Bear in me. Help me to trust not in my humanity, and thank you for the grace to trust you more.