I am in the stage of parenting where many parents with older kids look at me sympathetically and promise me that things will get better. They lament about how it was the threes, not the twos, that were “terrible.” They promise me that by age five, a certain shift happens. And some days, those words are enough to help me take a deep breath as my child is screaming angrily for no apparent reason, or hitting, or kicking, or you name it. I love my daughter dearly, but the last several months of her development have been challenging, to say the least. And certainly, it feels like she brings out the worst in me too. So what seems like the glorious bliss of parenthood is quite often a complicated, guilt-provoking mess.
But just the other night, as my daughter “attempted,” to fall asleep, she finally asked if I would come in and rock her to sleep. Not getting the chance to cuddle her often, I agreed. As we were rocking, she started lightly snoring, and as I looked at her relaxed face, my perception of her totally changed. She seemed not like a temperamental, trying toddler, but just a sweet little kid. The lull of sleep had smoothed out the anger and frustration from her face, and made her look peaceful and lovely. And in that moment, my love for her exploded, my forgiveness of her craziness overflowed, and my own frustration faded quickly away.
It occurred to me that my perspective in that moment must be God’s perspective of all of us. The God who loves us all so profoundly must only be able to do that if that God can see us for who we really are – that version of ourselves when we sleep: utterly human, vulnerable, and lovable. The anxiety is gone from our face and all that remains are the everyday functions of being human – breathing in and out, while our body is restored to refreshment and wholeness.
Having watched the news recently, especially the Zimmerman/Martin case, I have had some pretty hostile feelings about the people involved in the case, the people reporting on the case, and even toward people whom I know who seem unconvinced of the problems in our justice system. And everyday, I deal with family, friends, and, yes, even parishioners who frustrate me to no end. But I have been wondering about how I might begin to think of those objects of my frustration in their sleep. If I could see them vulnerably, peacefully sleeping, might I begin to see them with the eyes of God? I am not suggesting that forgiveness will come easily or even soon. But what I am wondering is whether seeing others through God’s love might at least give me the patience to try one more day of walking in God’s love too.