She curled her body up in my lap, my long, lean seven year old girl . . . seemingly too big to fit comfortably in her mama’s lap . . . as I rocked . . . back and forth . . . back and forth . . . the gentle rhythm calming her, she relaxed and cuddled up against me.
It was the last thing I thought I needed to do . . . every fiber of my being was screaming at me to do the opposite, not to rock and hold this child of mine. It was another day in a long string of days that had not gone well . . . understatement of the year . . . our strong wills clashing . . . me feeling like I had to bring her under control, discipline, teach, correct, admonish . . . her determined to defy, test, and push her independence.
If I’m completely honest, it was the last thing I wanted to do. I was frustrated. She was frustrated. Yet, in that moment, I knew I had a choice. I could push back, and the fight would continue, escalate, and grow. Or I could do what I knew in the deepest part of me, the part of me where God whispers to my spirit, was necessary. I could offer grace and mercy. I could meet her where she was and try to understand her brokenness . . . the fear that often controls her every move . . . the underlying anxiety that accompanies her throughout her days . . . and we, together, could move one step closer to healing.
And that’s so much what God does with us. Having my oldest child . . . caring for him as a tiny newborn . . . feeding, swaddling, comforting . . . gave me a deeper grasp of what true, unconditional love is. But adopting my second child, out of a place of nightmares and brokenness and trauma, helped to solidify not only the unconditional-ness of that love, but the absolute sacrificial nature of Christ’s love for us. Because it’s not an easy, sunshine and rainbows, kind of love. People will often say to adoptive parents, “All they need is love,” and to that, I respond, “Yes, but it’s the kind of love that fights until your exhausted beyond belief, and then fights more because that’s all you can do. It’s the kind of love that makes your knees hit the floor, and your cries hit the heavens to the only One that can completely heal our babies. It’s the kind of love that’s tenacious, unrelenting, and that comes back for more . . . day after day . . . moment after moment. These children desperately need that kind of love.” It’s a minute fraction of the love and mercy and grace that Christ showed me on the cross. We . . . our sins . . . the sins of all mankind for all time . . . nailed Him to that cross, and He willingly took it all so we could live free from bondage.
Lest anyone think I’m a hero. I’m most certainly not. Lest anyone think I have something special. I don’t. It’s the kind of love with which only God can equip us. I don’t have it in my own right. I’m so far from perfect it’s laughable, and I have zero doubt, even as I write this, that we will have days of victory but also days of struggle. Because, much like my daughter, like all of us, I’m also a broken human in the process of being healed, and plenty of days, I choose the path that ends with a whole lot more drama and a whole lot less peace. But each and every time I choose to listen to that still, small voice, it’s there. And I never cease to be amazed at how the very opposite of what I see as “discipline” brings about more lasting change in my child than hours of lectures, punishments, and hard consequences.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
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