It finally happened. We had established a weekly routine for this bizarre time, and the kids seemed to have adjusted to the new rhythm. But this week, something finally broke. From sunrise to sunset the day was full of arguments, timeouts, tantrums, and tears. For the life of me, I cannot recall the content of the conflict, but I am still recovering from the rollercoaster of emotions from that day.
Late that night, once the house was finally quiet, I tried to figure out what in the world had happened. After my own frustration and fatigue began to settle down, a moment from the day percolated up in my mind. During our midday quiet time, I was working diligently, trying to maximize my precious work time. My older daughter had asked to quietly read beside me, and I had hesitantly agreed. Soon, I realized her breathing had become regular and her booked had slipped down. She was sleeping, something she never does midday at her age. In that brief time, without her anger, arguments, and attitude, her peaceful face reminded me of how very fragile she is. Just for a moment, I was able to remember that as much as our children are resilient, creative, and strong during the new reality this pandemic has created, our children are also frustrated, confused, and lost as they try to make meaning out of the chaos. All of my anger about how the day had unfolded evaporated in that moment, and a wave of sympathy consumed me. In seeing all of the “fight” leave my daughter’s body, I was able to see the fragile child left behind.
As I processed the day with a fellow parent that night, I began to wonder if that moment of insight is perhaps the way God sees all of us in this time. We adults are struggling too – trying to make sense of this terrible time, trying to control the chaos enough to function, trying not to be overcome by the grief of all we have lost in this time. Most days we succeed, being resilient, creative, and strong ourselves. But we too have our days where we lose it – lose control over our carefully constructed hold on this new normal. I imagine God journeys with us in those strong days and those weak days, overflowing with love for us – loving pride for the ways we are trying our best, and loving sympathy for the fragility of our humanity. And although I only got a glimpse of that love on that rough day this week, that glimpse was just a tiny portion of the massive well of love God has for us.
I do not know what kind of week you are having. I do not know what stressors are creating small chinks in your armor or big cracks in your façade. I do not know whose burdens you are carrying in addition to your own. Whether you are hitting your stride, or stumbling along the path, know that you are loved this week. Know that God is right there with you, offering grace, mercy, and fortitude whenever you need it. And if you have it within your capacity this week, or next, I invite you share that same love with those you encounter this week – whether with your family, the essential workers you encounter, or your neighbors. Getting a glimpse of how God loves you makes it a lot easier to see others with God’s loving eyes. And we could all use a dose of that love today.