So You Had a Bad Day--the Sequel

9:51 AMHeather

When I think back on it, I can pinpoint exactly where it went off the rails.  

It was the call to bedtime.  

I sorta missed that exact moment, as I was wrapping up a facetime call with my in-laws.  But, I heard the commotion, so I quickly said my good-byes and then rushed to help my beloved with the rapidly escalating situation.  The weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  

Our heads were spinning.  It blindsighted us.  She was fine just moments before.  I think that is part of the exhaustion of parenting. When you let your guard down and begin to relax and then BAM! The volcano erupts.

Her sobs were so deep and loud that we couldn't understand her. She was simply beyond herself.  My poor husband had that deer in the headlights look.

Being a dad to a preteen girl is pretty much like venturing into alien territory.  The angst of friendships and hormones and just the deeply emotional issues such as hair that won't cooperate or a lack of a sups cute outfit.  And the sweetly dancing around girl, laughing and totally fine one minute.  Reduced to tears the next.

It is baffling.  

So the promise to read together was revoked and an immediate go-to-bed command was issued.  She stomped and cried and flailed about as she went up the stairs.  I looked over at my perplexed man and said, "I'm going in!"  In other words--you are tagged out.  I've got this.  I'll be P.O.D. (Parent On Duty).

I followed her up the stairs, honestly annoyed.  I mean just over it. Because I was tired too.  And for the love--how can a call to bedtime create such a stir?  I live for bedtime.  I cherish bedtime. When I can fall into my comfy bed and sip my nightly tea and read a book to unwind.

Knowing how close I was to going over the edge, I breathed a quick prayer for God to show up and direct me.  Because I had nothing left.

Then it hit me.

Um, yeah.  I know a thing or two about a bad day.  Didn't I JUST blog about my own version of this fit of emotions?

In case nobody has warned you, one of the most brutal things about parenthood is the mirror your children are to your own natural bents and bad habits.

Humbled, I walked into her room with fresh determination.  I wasn't quite sure what to do at first, but as I saw her long limbs literally flailing about and her face red with angst and the tears streaming down her cheeks, a wave of peace that came fresh from heaven poured over me and I knew what I needed to do.

I told her gently to stand still and then I literally changed her into pajamas myself.  In case you don't know her, she is taller than me. And pretty strong.  So it was a little like the olden days when I felt as if I was wrestling an octopus when I squeezed my toddlers into their footed jammies.

I looked her square in the eyes and said, "Climb in bed and scoot over."  With a determination not my own and a wisdom beyond me.

She seemed surprised enough that she calmed for a moment.  Then she flopped into bed, still crying on overdrive.

And I curled up behind her and announced the plan.

"Go ahead and have a good cry.  Just let it out.  I'm going to rub your back and stay here with you."

I turned off the lights and climbed in.  She sobbed, with nearly unintelligible mutterings about being mad at herself for poor time management and all the times she is mad at her brothers but keeps it in and how hard her days are at fifth grade.  There was something about how mundane the routine is and how she supposes that is the lot of school age children because even home schoolers and private schoolers have the same daily routine.  And it's boring and there is nothing to look forward to.

It's a hard knock life for her.

I just listened and fought my instinct to tell her to quiet down and build a bridge and get over it.  Instead, I remembered my own bad day and what I would want someone to do for me.

So I rubbed her back and told her it was okay.  I told her sometimes we just need a good old ugly cry and to just let it all out.  

Which she did.  

As I laid next to her, feeling calm beginning to take hold, I saw a picture of myself.  And God.

When I want to ugly cry, I feel as though I need to repress it.  As if I shouldn't.  As if I should be stronger than that and have better self-control and just paste on a happy face.  Pretend.  Because I'm just being ridiculous.  

Except for one thing.

I realized as I consoled my daughter that I was building trust with her.  That she was learning she could even ugly cry in my arms. And I realized that I don't give God enough credit.  I underestimate his ability to empathize with my frustrations.  I completely forget and invalidate this verse:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-- yet he did not sin.
Hebrews 4:15

In other words, because Jesus was fully man even as he was fully God, he knows what it feels like when the call for bedtime makes us want to lose our mess.

And while we are called to Spirit filled living, marked with fruit of the Spirit such as gentleness and patience and self-control, that doesn't mean we can't go into the ugly cry on occasion when we need to just let it out.  When we need to just wrestle with God about our feelings and our desires and our battles against the flesh. 

He doesn't call us to be perfectly happy people and perfectly in control at all times.  In fact, he so acknowledged and understood how broken we are that he sent his son to make a way for us. He is the only one in control, in fact.  Abraham wasn't counted as faithful in Romans 4 because he never ever broke down.  (Remember Hagar?!)  Abraham was counted faithful because when he did break down, he kept running to God. Broken and shattered and messed up, he knew how much he needed the Lord.  And he kept coming to him.  

God doesn't call us to never stumble.

God calls us to seek Him when we fall and to fall hard on his grace and to keep running our race, even after we get tripped up.

Sometimes we need to just curl up in his safe embrace and let him know how we are feeling. We need to let our emotions out, reminded in such moments that he is holding us and soothing us. Aware that running to him with everything--and I mean everything--can actually build trust and growth in our relationship with him.  

To be honest, when we can get to that place of realizing our great need and our terrible mess and our absolute inadequacy, it is actually the perfect place to encounter him as never before.  To be laid bare enough to recognize our great need of him.

We are not called to be perfect.

But, he is the perfect parent.  He is our Abba Father.  He holds us tightly even as we wrestle to live out his commandments and surrender to his calls--whether it be a call to bedtime or something else.

In our bad days, may we remember that it's okay.  May we run to him and let him hold us.  May we recall the promises of one of my favorite Scriptures--that he is with us, that he is mighty to save, that he takes great delight in us, and that in his love he does not rebuke us but instead he rejoices over us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).

It's okay to show your Daddy where it hurts.

And fall into his love and grace and sob with big crocodile tears and snotty noses.

And never ever ever forget that we are always, at every moment and every bad day, being held.

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