Today didn't start well. It began at 6am with a small child getting all stampy and shrieky at the bottom of our bed, and continued in the same vein pretty much until said child was deposited in her classroom at school. Where, I might add, she magically became smiley and co-operative; a model pupil.
What channel is she on? How can I tune in?
I don't know how to get through to her. We've used a star chart; added stars, taken stars away. She doesn't have any left now. She's had toys taken away, she's had rewards in the form of biscuits and trips to the park. We've asked, reasoned, shouted, cajoled, joked, persuaded, pleaded, ignored, commanded, walked away, plonked her unceremoniously in her bedroom and listened to the sound of the door being kicked and books being thrown. Stood there wondering how other parents manage. Are their children so intractable? Is it just me?
I've taken on a project recently that sounded exciting and interesting; right up my alley. I was feeling full of hope and promise and since I started it I've been beset with technical problems that I don't have the skill to overcome and confidence problems that have knocked me over.
All I can see are walls. Sometimes it seems as if every way I look there's a wall. So close that I feel claustrophobic. I can see blue sky if I look up, but the walls are closing in on me. Downwards I see only mud and shadow and cold, tall, stone walls that I can't get over.
On occasion I feel as if I've found a handhold and pulled myself up a bit, and then I get hopeful that I might get to the top and climb over, but I can never get very far. Always I slip off again and land at the bottom feeling defeated. I feel trapped.
Trapped is the word. I'm finding being a Mum hard at the moment and there are added complications that I'm trying to do something (other than being a Mum) for the first time since the children came along. That's fine - I don't for one minute wish that I'd done things differently over the last few years but I'm coming to realise that it's been a while since I've tried to do anything other than parenthood and housework. I think I can do this; indeed I think I should do it. I believe you want me to do it, but I don't half feel ill-equipped to do it right now.
I can't even get my five year old daughter to get her clothes on in a morning.
'Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."'Matthew 19:26
Now here I find myself wondering if you're looking at me and saying that, or if feeling defeated by one's five year old daughter is ridiculous, and sorting it out should quite clearly be well within my remit as mother, and shouldn't be elevated to the position of 'impossible for man'.
She's only five. She can be a delight. I love her so much that my heart swells when I see her run towards me in the playground after school. She has a will of iron.
The fact is that we have good days and bad days, and days when we seem to lock horns more than on other days. Today is looking like the second type of day but who knows what it'll be like when she gets home from school. I need some help. I don't know how to make things better, and the stack of parenting books on the landing bookshelf are not helping.
I've hit a brick wall.
A while ago I sat in church and listened to a sermon about brick walls. At the time I didn't feel as if you were speaking into a situation I was in, but I remember that I felt it was significant.
What I heard was: when I can't find a human answer, maybe there isn't one. Maybe you are the answer, God. Maybe you have the answer, or maybe you are it.
So where are you in this? Where are you when my computer doesn't do what it should do and I lose precious time not knowing how to fix it? Where are you when I don't want to get angry with Katy, and I'm trying desperately hard not to shout but I do need her to put on her clothes and get ready for school? Where are you when I want to step out in faith but every time I choose a direction a wall appears in front of me?
I know you haven't forgotten me. I know you are there. You know that I feel bricked up and trapped. You know that I'm battling with confidence issues - I'm not good enough as a mother, not good enough as anything else. Why try to do something special? No point in trying.
I can't find a human answer. I need you.
The walls of Jericho came tumbling down. Daniel walked around in the fiery furnace even though he should have been burned to a crisp. Jesus died on a cross and yet three days later he was walking and talking, vividly alive. You have a habit of beating the odds.
|You are with me.|
So I want things right now. I don't want to wait and learn from my difficulties and change into someone more patient and wise and steady through hardship. I want you to rescue me straight away. Make it all easy, because when things are hard I get cross and frustrated. I start to doubt myself and you too. I start to be discouraged and wonder where you are in all this. Why you're not moving the walls.
I don't want to develop perseverance. I want it right now. Stamp.
I sound a bit like Katy. I don't want to put my clothes on. You put them on for me.
The devil wants me to focus on the wall. He wants me to stare at it and realise how big it is. How impossible to climb. Look at me, I can't even find a toehold. It's too big. Too well-built. Too much for me. You want me to look up and focus on you.
You say, 'I am with you.'
Genesis 26:24 With Isaac:
'Do not be afraid, I am with you.'
Genesis 28:15 With Jacob:
'I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go...I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.'
Psalm 73:23 With David:
'Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.'
Isaiah 41:10 With the people of God:
'Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.'
Jeremiah 1:8 With Jeremiah:
'Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.'
Haggai 1:13 With your people:
"Then Haggai, the Lord's messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people; 'I am with you' declares the Lord."
Matthew 28:20 With your disciples:
'...and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'
Helen 1:1 With me:
'Stop moaning and get on with it. I am with you.'
|And the walls came tumbling down.|
The other thing is timing. Your timing is not the same as my timing. I know what I think I need and when I think I need it My timing is a 'give it to me right now' sort of thing, but you know what is best for me. In the same way that I can see a bigger picture with my children you can see a bigger picture than I can. I don't let them have snacks too close to mealtimes because I want them to have an appetite for the things that are good for them.
I'm beginning to suspect that there's a lesson here.
What I want is to have the sort of faith that knows that you can smash the walls down and that you are with me, but faithfully trusts without knowing the answer. Like Daniel:
'If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods...'Daniel 3:17-18
There's faith. You can do it, I'd quite like you to do it, but if you don't do it, I'm OK with that too.
'Even if he does not...'
Wow. That's hard. I have such a long way to go.
Lord, there are walls that I don't know how to climb and I could do with being on the other side of them. I'm not liking where I am right now.
When the time is right please, would you help me? Show me the way out, show me where the handholds are, or send the bricks flying, will you?
Bring harmony to our house and help me meet deadlines?
Let the walls come tumbling down.
And could it be soon, please?
Until the time is right, Lord, take my right hand and hold me tight.
'Hotblack 20070715_brick' photo by Scott Liddell. (www.scottliddell.net)
'Crossbricks' photo by Mary R Vogt.
Pile of bricks photo by bosela.
All used from www.morguefile.com with permission.