I am not sure why I am writing right now. Clearly something is very wrong with me; because at this moment, I am taking refuge from an enormous blow-up and waiting for the disaster to pass.
This morning, intent on spending time in my Bible; I brewed a strong cup of coffee and literally tiptoed so as not to wake the sleeping babes who had piled onto the beds in my son’s room in an exhausted attempt at a sleep-over after a wonderful day of swimming.
Yesterday, I had noted – as most mamas do – that one of my kiddos had had a bit of a difficult day and could almost smell the disaster beginning to rise within her soul. She had taken swipes at me and her siblings and the children we were visiting with and seemed on the edge. She is a cunning child and most of the comments had been overlooked or went unnoticed. Her dad and I noticed. And if you know us, I light-heartedly refer to my husband as Captain Oblivious, so the comments were enough to cause us both to throw a proverbial flag on the play. As most of you might imagine, we offered solutions to keep the disaster from occurring. And we were successful from releasing a full-blown-tantrumlike-spectacle from exploding all over a wonderful Sunday afternoon.
(please hold your applause, the show is about to begin)
Seasoned parents – as some probably would call us – trained in TBRI and more; I was pretty pleased that we avoided this very common misstep. We paid attention to the needs of our kiddos, empowered them with healthy food, provided fabulous sensory input from a friendly trampoline and an inviting back-yard pool and kept them hydrated with endless cool drinks. We, sensing it was time to go home, left at a reasonable time; and put our little ones to bed without a hitch.
How was I to know that deep within my daughter’s soul the disaster was still brewing?
As I crept into the kitchen, I was greeted by my daughter who had beaten me to the kitchen and foiled my plans for some solitude with God. No bother. I opened by Bible and spent some moments with her (and the Lord) and before long the other gnarly-headed, sleepy-eyed littles began to pour into the kitchen. Giving them all a healthy breakfast and plopping them in front of a silly TV show; I resumed my attempt at a devotional and picked-up my luke-warm cup of coffee.
Can I just stop here and say that most mornings in our home don’t start with a healthy breakfast and/or a devotional? Often my devotional is a quiet prayer whispered from the semi-solitude of my toilet seat in the seconds I have ‘alone’ to pray?
It wasn’t long before disaster began to rear its ugly head. An old video from Facebook had popped up as a memory. Excitedly, I gathered the littles to come and see their baby sister giggling in a 30 second short we had years before posted. Something about that video (even at this moment I cannot fully put my finger on it) caused the slightest shift, an inkling that the tone of the atmosphere around my daughter had changed. She got angry and seemed very put-off by the old video. Knowing that something was wrong, I attempted to explore it with her. But to no avail. She didn’t want to talk and walked back toward the television. Sitting a few feet away, I began to hear the beginnings of an argument. The complaints of a victim being pushed around a bit by her sister, in whom, disaster was brewing.
It didn’t take more than a few minutes that pendulum shifted, the tolerance to the swipes was gone and the full-blown fight began. Separating the two girls, I brought my daughter to me to talk about what was going on with her? At this, the tantrum erupted as a full-blown disaster; hitting, kicking, throwing things, screaming…and finally steaming on the couch trying to calm down.
And so here I sit, in the quiet. Perhaps one might call this the eye of the storm because I am not sure if it is only half over or if the calm will settle down deep enough to dispel the fury within her soul altogether. Soon, my little one joins me at the table with swollen eyes; (she is still to angry to talk) she sits quietly beside me waiting until she is calm enough to give a voice to her hurts.
Moments before the disaster, I read this in Psalms:
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster has passed. I cry out to the God Most High to God, who fulfills His purpose for me.Psalm 57:1,2
Often when the disasters occur – when we are cursed, struck, slapped and screamed at by our little ones who have endured tremendous loss and grief – it is very (and I mean VERY) easy to lose sight of the need behind the behavior. I will be the first to admit that during this specific disaster, I didn’t get everything right. (I’m still working on warm voice and total voice control and am somewhat convinced those special set of Karyn Purvis vocal cords await me in my glorified body in heaven!) But rather than react, I responded, I prayed and I took refuge.
I responded by pressing in toward my daughter despite her anger, words, and actions. I sat with her, helped her to calm herself and told her I wanted to hear from her when she was calm and able to talk with me.
I prayed that God would help to calm her (and me), that He would have mercy on me and that He would be my refuge until the disaster had passed. (I also gave the other kiddos a place of refuge out of the line of fire)
I took refuge knowing He knew my heart to help her, my anger at the injustice and I cried out to Him to help me to see His purpose in the midst of the disaster and asked for mercy in the midst of the storm.
In the moment, none of this was easy. As I have been typing this with my kiddos at my hip, the calmness has returned, the tears have dried, the apologizes have been issued and conversations have been had (Take this to also mean there may be a bunch of typos and run-on sentences in this post!) Things aren’t fully restored, but they are well on their way to being made right. Our God is after all, a God of restoration.
Are you in the midst of a disaster? Ask for mercy. Pray and take refuge in the midst of the disaster. Cry out to God for help and wait for God to fulfill His purpose! And remember the God that has called you to this will equip you for it. You are not and never were alone (even if you’re in the deep waters)