It all happened before I realized I had created a problem.
I had pulled up my anchors and was just waiting for the change to take place. Summer schedules, a move, and a whole new way of life was just on the horizon – so I stopped relying on the routine without even realizing it. Leaving myself exposed to all manner of pain.
Mommy, she said just as I was rinsing my hand in the sink. I didn’t realize I had just put it under scalding hot water.
I burned my hand. It was the last straw. Like a camel, my back was broken.
I stomped my foot and burst into tears.
I’ve been hurt too much today. This is the hardest day I’ve had in a long time. I said, and I stood with my back to her and sobbed.
I’m not a crier.
Even though I get choked up often over worship songs, Little House on the Prairie, and the word “newborn.” I don’t cry over my own pain very often.
I was embarrassed to be so vulnerable with my kids, but if there is one thing kids understand – it’s pain.
So, I let my kids see me in pain. I’m honest when things hurt me, and I make sure to tell them the difference between emotional pain and physical pain.
All day I had been working to fix a technical problem with my internet. I could write a whole rant on ISPs, but I’ll save you from having to read that.
In the quiet moments of the day, my mental dialog was demanding that I figure out whether what I was going through was heaven-sent in order to test me or hell-bound in order to tempt me.
I felt obligated to remain neutral in my thoughts or behaviors until I traced what was happening to me to the source.
But if it was from God to test me, then being “good” doesn’t prove that I was worthy of the test. Or if it was from the devil, then my being “bad” isn’t justified. 2 wrongs don’t make a right. I was stuck not knowing how to respond.
Either way, I was suffering under the weight of fresh pain. Not only from the website stress, but also the move, the lack of anchors, the scalded hand, etc. I told myself I don’t have to know the source in every situation before I act – because whatever the source of this painful situation, I don’t want to give pain the power to control me.
In everything, I need to be able to acknowledge that God is indeed sovereign. I want to give my daughter a visual of what to do when the hurts feel like too much. I want her to hear me giving thanks, even when something is hurting me to the point of complete humiliation. I want her to know that it is possible to suffer from pain and still endure.
And sometimes, sobbing at the kitchen sink is enduring.
Because enduring is honest. It isn’t white knuckles.
Enduring is telling my daughter that I just scalded my hand, and I’m in a lot of pain – I can’t talk right now.
Enduring is praying in every moment that feels like it is more than I can bear.
Enduring is steady; it is more than skin deep. It isn’t harsh or angry when tested.
Enduring is getting over hurts quickly because on days when it’s really painful – the next thing to go wrong is coming up fast – I won’t have relief any time soon. It’s better to let the first hurt roll off.
Hurts aren’t worth collecting anyway.
And even though it is true that hurt people, hurt people – I don’t have to be doomed to hurt my kids in the way that I talk to them and treat them. I don’t have to be defined by my pain and heap shame into the mix. I don’t have to slump into the bad-mom-mentality and lose ground for good in my soul and theirs.
Pain reveals what’s underneath my efforts. It exposes my weak spots. It calls either calm or clamor to the forefront.
How I respond when a weak spot is under attack teaches my kids. Sometimes it teaches them loudly even if I don’t say a word.
Through every season of deep pain in my life, I have come to recognize a more intimate demand on my heart. It’s the part of self-control that I struggle with the most – what do I do when I’m in conflict with myself. Pain is the truest test of self-control, just like waiting is the trust test of patience.
And just like scalding my hand isn’t that big of a deal – it isn’t the size of the test of self-control that matters as much as the passing of it. I want my kids to see me living and thriving, not just surviving. Sometimes stomping or sobbing – hopefully more calm than not – always admitting what I’m learning so that they can see there’s a much bigger Teacher behind it all.