The volume had been high at home for a couple of days. Daughter had been struggling with issues, some known and some unknown. What is known is that life is hard at seven. Life is hard at 40-something. Life is just hard.
It is hard being here, in this broken place with broken people carrying around lofty expectations, when we were made to be there, in that perfect place, in heaven with God. Yet our faith requires us to live a life of not yet in a very broken now.
I am the first to admit that home is broken and to be clear, I am not getting divorced. We are simply imperfect and still figuring out how to be “healthy” in a sick space. For as hard as it is for us, it somehow seems compounded for daughter.
She had been riddled with anxiety and acting out more so than usual those couple of days. I tried so hard to figure it out. As a mommy, my heart bled for the hurt I could see as she lashed out, yelling and seemingly out of control. There must be a reason, something I could fix.
So I started the process of psychoanalyzing her behavior. I may not be a certified psychologist, but being her mommy surely qualifies me, right? Here are the things I knew that happened in her world at that time. She was sick the prior weekend so we had to cancel a trip to visit her cousin which she had been looking forward to for a long time and she was very worried that her cousin would not forgive her for not showing up. Her dear friend since preschool moved away and was not at school for the first time. There had been the perpetual friend issues at school that just seem to plague girls starting at such an early age. Or it could have been that I yelled at her scribbling blue crayon on our carpet in a fit of anger when I sent her to her room.
I made a point of talking to her teacher after school, certain that she was struggling there as well and there would be more “bad” news about her behavior. While we delved into the world of daughter to figure out how to fix her, daughter headed to the playground and started swinging. After we figured out exactly nothing, except that we were going to keep an extra special eye on her, I headed over and sat in the swing next to her.
Daughter and I swung for a while and then I asked why she was so upset. She said she wasn’t anymore. I asked if she had told anyone what was wrong. She said she told it to the playground and let it go there. Needless to say I was perplexed and sure that a trip to the psych ward was in our future.
She said she had been mad at herself for being so angry and yelling and getting into trouble, but she couldn’t stop herself. So, while I was talking to her teacher, she decided to let her anger out on the play structure, telling all her woes to the monkey bars and slide. She said she even hit them. Then she said she gave her memory of her anger to Jesus so she didn’t really remember why she was so upset in the first place.
I just smiled. Oh from mouths of babes. What a profound and wise response to dealing with out of control emotions. The lessons and reminders for me as exampled by daughter were huge!
- Don’t over analyze situations.
- Don’t make them worse by supposing or expecting anything beyond the known facts.
- Don’t try to control what is not in your control.
- Find a neutral place to take some time out from the situation.
- Follow God’s precepts. Daughter knew to let go of her anger completely, to lay it before Jesus, to let go of her anxiety and to find peace and rest in His grace.
- I don’t have to and frankly will not know the “why” for every behavior.
- Turn everything over to the Lord and trust that He will manage it better than I can.
- Have more faith in the character God has placed in daughter.
- Find my own “playground” where I can vent, pray and let it go.
Do you have a playground?