Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Love, Grace and Pain: all in one shot

Within four hours of each other, my oldest daughter got her ears pierced and my youngest daughter had to get shots.  Both kids had needles poked in them, both experienced some type of anxiety leading up to the event, and both had completely different reactions.

My oldest got to choose her suffering.  She knew long before-hand what she was getting into. She was coached by her mother about how it would hurt upon the initial point of needle contact, and that there would be 6 weeks of tedious care to be done afterwards.  She handled the episode with such grace and courage.  She knew what she wanted, and was willing to pay the price of pain to get it.  So this 9 year old daughter of mine, held her breath and puffed out her cheeks.  As the earrings went in, her eyes got 3 times their original size, but she handled it quietly and with dignity.

My girls and I made our way out of the mall and to the health department.  I did not warn my five year old.  While in the waiting room, I numbed her attention by letting her watch you-tube videos on my phone.  She had no clue what was going on until she was sitting in a chair and saw the needle coming toward her arm.  Then, the terror began.  Panic.  Screaming.  Shrieking.  “MOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!!!”  She had to be held down by two people as the needle went in.  She was still crying when it was all over.  She cried all the way to the car.  She cried as I put her in the car, she cried while she ate her ice cream.  She cried 4 hours later when her dad asked about her day even though the pain was gone.

You might wonder why as a parent, I made the choices that I did.  Because I am a gracious, loving mom, my children get the benefit of having their needs met.  They also get to make many of their own choices in life simply based on their preferences.  Sometimes they do not get a choice, because I know what’s better for them.  They don’t always know that they are the recipients of my grace, and they don’t always know my reasoning.  But they receive my grace, whether they want it or not, simply because they are mine.

I have always prepared my oldest two kids when they were going to the doctor’s, getting a shot, or having surgery.    But my youngest is different and she got no choice and no warning.   I know her and how she reacts to things.  Fore-warning would have led to:
1) me forcing her in the car-seat
2) her trying to break free from the car
3) her screaming in the waiting room, and scaring all the other little kids
4)  making a crowd wonder if I was an abusive parent, or some stranger trying to steal this little kid
So in my grace, I spared her from the anxiety and protected both of our reputations.  Why did I force her to undergo such a frightening experience?  Because I love her, and the alternative (contracting a future disease) was far worse. 

I see myself as God’s child in both of these situations.  I have been given so many choices by God, and by His grace, I get to choose often what pains or trials I’d like to bear.  I have reacted many times like my oldest daughter—grinning and bearing it, because I want the future glory.  I want the end result.

Lately, the Lord has been afflicting me.  I know it’s Him and not the enemy because the circumstances are training, not torture.  In my flesh I confuse the two; in my spirit, I can tell the difference.  I can see how God has spared me of certain things, but there is so much I don’t understand, and He didn’t include my opinions in His planning.  I have become very frustrated with myself, because I want to trust Him.  The alternative can’t be better, but I’ve been resisting the pain like my youngest getting shots.   I have not experienced tragedy, only hard or challenging times.  This makes me more angry with myself, because I know life circumstances could be much worse.  I can detail event after event of the Lord’s protection of me in crazy situations. I find myself torn, knowing intellectually that God is good, but not feeling it and way too focused on the frustrations in front of me.  I don’t really know what to do with myself when I get like this: when my emotions and my logic do not match up to the standard God has of me in the Bible.  That makes me depressed because I can not get “faith” right in even the simplest of things.

Most people say I’m too hard on myself.  I have heard that statement all of my life.  It’s really self-focus.  It’s really pride.  I want to “self-effort” my way through life, and get irritated when I can’t pull it off.  Knowing the problem, however, does not fix it.  Knowledge of the problem only makes me spiral down farther.  Only the love of the Father can draw me out of the dark hole.  (Paul talks about this in Romans 7 & 8.)

My adult mind overanalyzes and forgets to be like the child.  If one wants to know how to have child-like faith, she needs to watch children:  What did my youngest do when she was scared?  What did she do when she questioned my goodness?  When the needle came at her arm, she immediately turned her head away from it, and put her arms towards me.  She screamed for Mom.  When the shot was over, and the pain long-gone, she wanted me to hold her.  She wanted me to dry the tears.  She wanted my presence, even though she didn’t understand what I was doing.  There was no self-analyzing.  There was no depression.  No she wasn’t perfect.  She could not and did not react in a dignified way.  She cried a lot and in some ways blamed me. But eventually, the fear and anxiety was forgotten because of who she turned to.  She is my child and I can prove it by the way she runs to me, even when she thinks I am somewhat responsible for her pain.

Later that night, that young kid asked me to sing “Amazing Grace” to her at bedtime.  Let me leave you with the lines that erased my fits, fears and frustrations and put me back with Who I belong.  The love of God met me in the third verse of a song I’ve hummed thousands of times:
“Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come.
Twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”


  1. This may seriously be the most amazing thing you've ever written, and there is a LOT of great stuff to compare it to. I love this!

  2. Ah thanks. It's too bad the good stuff comes after the not-so-pretty stuff. I'd rather things be pretty all the time;)