When I look back at the signs, it is obvious now that Molly was suffering from her tumor months before diagnosis. Seven months prior, my role model of a student was pushing me off the edge into insanity. Her mood swings were larger than the waves of the sea and her temper was getting the best of her often.
There was a particular day that I remember of one such temper tantrum that now, when I look at the image in my head, my body tightens and I feel a twinge of guilt that I didn’t know then that she was ill.
I couldn’t tell you what she was fighting me about that particular time, but I saw something in her that I never saw before. Her eyes were as wild with rage as her hair was wild with curls. She was screaming, on tippy toes, leaning forward, ready to attack. Though her 45 pound, slim figure could not really do me much physical harm, I knew that something needed to be done to stop this before it went more south.
Taking Molly into my arms, I turned her body around, though she gave much resistance, and sat her on my lap. The hallway was dark and it was just the two of us sitting there, leaning against a door. With my arms wrapped firmly around her own arms like a hug, we began what would be a very long lesson, but one that will stick with me forever.
There are times when our children need our help with getting control of their own selves. This starts in infancy when a mother rocks her child to sleep though all they know to do is cry. They eventually learn the skill to fall asleep without the mother’s aide, but in the beginning, they need to feel the safety in mom’s arms.
Toddlers are the master examples of needing help with self control. We are selling leashes for this age group!! (I don’t recommend this. They may start biting.) We control by holding their hand, not giving too many choices, scheduling out their day, etc. All these actions point to the allowance to learn in a situation that may otherwise be too much or even dangerous.
Lastly, we have those teens. I know I have said it before, but I will say it again. I have absolutely NO experience with these mini-adults. Let’s be honest, we all feel like we just left our teen years, no matter what our age. But still, they need loving constraints in areas that are too big for them to handle, such as internet use, emotional toils, and prioritizing.
(Note: Everyone has their opinion on these matters. It is up to each individual parent to decide what each individual child needs. Try not to get caught up in the lists, but more focus on the heart of the matter.)
As adults, we have self control issues throughout all our days on this orb. I know this because otherwise we wouldn’t have Weight Watchers, anger management, infidelity, theft, and the list goes on.
But for children and adults alike, we can find safety in the freedom of Christ.
I carefully chose the word “freedom” because so often we look at parts of God’s love as a list of Do’s and Don’ts. They seem stifling and limit our fun and opportunities.
As parents, we can see beyond the fence where our children cannot. Though they may want to go and leave the place we have made for them, they don’t see the dangers ahead. They cannot comprehend all that leaving the fence entails because they are inexperienced and don’t have all the facts.
I am guilty of this so often.
And even now as I sit to make a list of things that I have felt limited by, they seem silly in the light of his ultimate purpose: love.
A simple example is cookie cake.
Yep, that delicious chocolate chip cookie, the size of a pizza, covered in the most glorious buttercream frosting in the world.
I LOVE cookie cake.
I am not a sweets person, but you put that in front of me and you may get your hand bitten off if you reach for a slice. (You think I am kidding. I dare you to test this.)
I know that I don’t have control over cookie cake. I will eat it until I am sick for days. Seems utterly ridiculous and semi-embarrassing to write, but we all have some kind of “cookie cake”.
But love compels me to refrain from it’s consumption. Perhaps not Christ’s love per se keeps me behind that fence, but my family’s love for sure. They know not to buy it and bring it home. I love myself to know to pass it by, even if it IS Mother’s Day, or my birthday, or any day of the week that ends in the letter “y”. (One year, my sweet family got me a sheet cake size cookie cake for my birthday. Biggest mistake in the history of family mistakes. They all paid for that one. Keep in mind, no gallbladder plus sugary golden deliciousness equals the equivalent of gas to heat the North Pole for 2 years. Sorry family.)
A deeper example would be Christ’s constraining love when it comes to entertainment. I know that I am fully prone to wasting too much time if given the outlet. I like to sit on my rear end and do nothing. I like the glow of the screen on a dark night. I like to shut out my pain, emotions, and tasks and simply feel numb. This is one of the big reasons we don’t have T.V. I know, shocker. We have a T.V. set, but it’s not hooked up to anything but a game system for the kids and hubby to play on. I once had a cable salesman ask me if I wanted to purchase his plan. When he heard that we didn’t have any T.V. his jaw dropped, and no lie, he asked if we were Amish. I still giggle about this one.
I am not saying by any means that we should all throw out our T.V.s and knit over the glow of the fireplace. And I am certainly not advocating working 24/7 and never letting your mind and body rest. What I am saying is that the love of Christ keeps me away from those areas that I struggle with most. Love and obedience can go hand in hand and in this particular case, I know he is helping me use my time for him more wisely by not having so many options in my free time.
The meat of what this verse is about comes from one four letter word: love.
Christ’s love for us is greater than any love we will ever know. More love than we have for our spouse, more love we have for our child, more love than we have for cookie cake. (Though sometimes I really think cookie cake comes before kids.)
His love is like my arms wrapped around Molly that day. Holding her back from harm to herself and others, we waited it out together. Did I keep her there forever? No. I think it was a 45 minute tantrum. But when it ended, she no doubt felt my love, forgiveness, safety, and reassurance. She chose when to end the tantrum, but I was there to keep her close until she was finished.
Christ keeps me close through my many hurdles and testings. And though there will always be areas in my life that I will struggle in, there are seasons in which his love continues to constrain me, but gives me the confidence to go forward, one step at a time.