Well, surprise! Norah is still two, which means…wait for it…she’s still acting like a two year old.
Last night, after a particularly loud struggle between us, I felt like, “why are we still struggling? Why isn’t she getting it?” And then the brilliant answer dawned on me: I’m an adult and can analyze my actions and emotions, make changes, and actually remember what I should be doing, even though many times I don’t do it. She is a toddler and can’t critique her own actions and judgments and then change in the middle of mommy being so horribly mean as to ask her to eat dinner.
Working through the Terrible Twos has been significantly louder this time around. I ran at full speed into her room last night because I heard her screaming at me, only to discover her completely asleep. Yes, my meanness even pervades her dreams. You must wonder what I do to incite such horrific emotions in my daughter. The list is terrible, unfair, and includes things like go potty in the toilet instead of the floor and no, Honey, we don’t eat chocolate for dinner.
So this morning as I got breakfast together, feeling the weight of last night and girding myself up for another day’s battle, two songs that Davy has been singing lately came into my head. They go like this:
Where the Spirit of The Lord is,
There is freedom
Where the Spirit of The Lord is,
Chains are broken, eyes are opened
Christ is with us, Christ is with us
(Where the Spirit of The Lord is by Hillsong Live)
All I want, all I need
Is more of You, less of me
Take this life, Lord it’s Yours
Have my heart, have it all
(To Be Like You by Hillsong Live, same album)
As they morphed into one continuous song in my head, I had an eye opening moment. Bear with me as I explain:
Where the Spirit of The Lord is, there is freedom: Because we love and follow Jesus, He makes His home among us. That means His Spirit is here. And that means we can walk in freedom here.
Because His Spirit makes its home with us, we can believe and trust that He will work in our lives. Read this to mean: God isn’t standing idly by while I struggle with Norah. His love and grace are here. His perfect ability to see her heart, know her struggles, and know what will work are here. He can and will open her eyes to understanding what to do, how to respond, and eventually, that she needs Him too.
Christ IS with us here. He hasn’t abandoned me to the tossing waves of life with a toddler. This means I CAN turn to Him in the heat of the moment and He WILL give me strength.
So many days I see myself responding out of my unseemly human nature. You know, the responses that make you cringe in shame if you think anyone had seen them, and yet they continually come out to your kids. (Or maybe that only happens to me…) So how do I change? Here is my answer – make my aim for today more about allowing Him to change me – laying down myself to make room for more of Himself – than about disciplining Norah. Walk in the freedom He promised is already here, freedom to be Christlike in my heart and toward my kids, instead of the “freedom” to make my kids obey.
Freedom. Psalm 18:19 says He has “put me in a broad place.” The connotation here is that He has pulled us out from a confined, dark, crowded place and put us in an open field. Air, light, openness, freedom. When I narrow my vision to the Terrible Twos, and Norah and I crawl into the proverbial boxing ring, we both see only one thing: competition. Our struggle is confined, narrow , and only one of us will come out the winner. When we are “duking it out,” there is no room for Jesus in between us. There is only room for the fullness of my will and the fullness of her will to clash, and clash fiercely. And trust me, it is fierce.
Oh, how I would rather follow Jesus into freedom! How I would rather let Him take my heart, change it to respond with His responses, and allow Him to orchestrate the discipline with Norah. To take her, as He would, in love and peace, yet firmness and truth, and reach her heart. To make room for His Spirit to open her eyes instead of trying to force her to see things my way. To walk with Christ in our home, showing her the absolute need for Him, instead of making Him wait outside the ring to sew up our wounds.
This is all nice and stuff, but what does it actually look like, especially in the heat of the moment? When she’s screaming in my face and defiantly refusing to obey? To be honest , I don’t know. It looks a little different each time because God is working something more , something deeper, into both of us each day. By having our standard, go- to consequences, we at least have a routine she understands when she disobeys. But the responses between us, the conversations, our looks, our tones – that’s where all of this freedom stuff comes in. Christ responded in love, and yet He still responded in complete truth. He did not back down from what is right, and yet He did not provoke either. He had varied responses to situations, and yet each time was in perfect righteousness.
Christ is with us, and that means, all of His responses can be taught to us too. Where He is, He can save us from ourselves, our knee jerk reactions, our hereditary responses. Where He is, He can teach us to walk in freedom.