and I do not lose heart

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

In the relative darkness of this past week, I sat beside my youngest daughter’s bed at naptime on a particularly bad day. I covered her up with her ‘Aunt Katie’ blanket, a weighted gem of a gift, calming her frenetic movements. I held her hand through the crib bars while her classical music CD played. Soothing words, calming touches, and it was more than 45 minutes before she could quiet herself.

In the previous two weeks of Sundays, I’ve had to leave church services both times. Once to bring a reluctant and hurting child home to sit him down on his bean bag and do a Theraplay session, swallowing my pride and hurt feelings as I did. It seems like, as an adult, I should be bigger than my five-year-old’s feelings, and yet it took everything within me at that moment to do the hard work to help him heal. I wish it paid more dividends than it does, but the healing comes slow and steady these days rather than in bursts like it did at first. The following Sunday, however, he made through a stressful, overwhelming, unfamiliar large-church scenario only to melt into my lap towards the end, bruising my arms with his intensity, whispering in my ear, “I’m super scared, Mama. I just want to hug you.”

Trying to fit therapy and any kind of normal routine into our daily lives has been a struggle the whole summer long. Throw in a huge emotional trigger, a parental vacation, a couple of huge family events, the inevitable back-to-school adjustment, and we are in full-on kid crisis mode here. Compound that by a mama who is over-tired, struggling with her health, grieving a Very Big Loss of her own, and just feeling all-around discouraged and you have a recipe for a house that is in desperate need of some stability and encouragement.

We’re all in this together, fortunately, so the things that help one of us end up trickling down to the others as well. When I make the time to do at-home therapy with Brenden, I remember that helping him to feel positively about me helps me to feel positively about him. When my toddler is dysregulated and I help her gain control, we both feel like we’re winning. When I sit and listen to Maggie’s never-ending stories about her day, we both feel less lonely. When my Ben greets me at the door after school with a tight hug, then I feel more treasured and less tired, and he knows he’s home where he’s completely safe and supported.

This job of mine - it’s my ministry, my calling. I don’t get sick days. If I’m feeling lonely, I still have to show my kids they’re not alone in this great big world. If I’m grieving a loss, I get to model to my kids how to work through sadness. If I’m feeling misunderstood, I can extend grace to my kids, work to understand their own feelings. If I’m feeling tired, then I need to teach my kids how to rest when we need it. When I’m feeling unloved, I need to not hold back, I need to give love.

My home is a sacred space.
My job is holy work.
I. do. not. lose. heart.

Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart…But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4:1, 7-9

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