Digging deep into the crevices of my bag, I prayed to find any morsel with which to appease the hunger pangs of my over-stimulated, worn out toddler. The museum was crowded. The day was long. My time was up and the bag supplied nothing. Not even a half-eaten granola bar or a couple sticky fruit snacks. I was doomed.
And so the wailing began.
Onlookers gawked as my tiny human writhed against the restraints of his stroller. With arms and legs thrust up and out, back arched, and mouth wide he made sure every bystander knew he was being held against his will. Straps meant to protect and secure became potential for lynching.
Desperate measures were needed. He must be released from bondage.
Unbuckling the straps was no easy feat, but once free my little guy who five seconds ago was rigid as a board slid off the umbrella stroller like a deflated balloon onto the cold, hard floor. Scooping him up I thought all he needed was my motherly embrace to calm him. I was mistaken.
Have you ever tried to hold a cat that hates to be held? Have you ever been stiff-armed by a toddler? Have you ever been slimed by a large dog? You get the picture. At least my kid didn’t have sharp claws.
Not daring to look around, I only imagined the harsh judgments and stares of the other mothers who had packed their bags with more than enough fruit snacks to pacify their darling offspring. My skin turned clammy as I supposed their side-glances and smug faces simultaneously revealed pity and relief it wasn’t their kid making a scene.
I was frantic to get out of there. Eyes darting, I spotted it. My haven – a dimly lit area away from the crowd. With my hollering toddler on one arm, I propelled the stroller around the corner and into a quiet hallway. Hysteria broke loose and my frenetic child struggled against my hug. Tightening my hold, I spoke softly as he whimpered and wriggled.
“Don’t fight, Baby. I’ve got you. I know, you’re tired and ready to go home. Hush now. It’s okay. Mama loves you.”
Little by little exhaustion won out and he relaxed in my arms. Shrieks gave way to stuttered breaths. Back and forth we swayed in this slow dance we mamas cherish and I kissed those cheeks all sweat and snot and I fear my heart will bust wide open. My Baby, why do you struggle so?
I wonder. Is this what God feels like sometimes?
Day after day we press ourselves to meet self-imposed demands on our time and resources. We set a pace that doesn’t allow for breaks to recover from jammed schedules. Our energy level dwindles until there are no reserves in the crevices of our over-stimulated, worn out souls.
“Oh, God, I’m so tired and afraid. Life is unfair and I’m angry. The hurt is too much. The demand is too high. I can’t do this anymore!”
So, what do we do? We take a deep breath and exert harder still to solve our dilemmas and meet our goals. It becomes important to show those around us we’ve got it all together. Finishing at any cost becomes our primal scream to the detriment of body, soul, and relationships.
All the while God tightens His hold around us while we struggle in our frenzied pace out of fear or anger. Just like we hold our children when they feel out of control and afraid, God holds us so close, so tight.
“Why are you fighting, My child? Look, I am here; you are not alone. I have given you everything you need and I keep you safe. I know you are tired. I hear you and I care. Come away with Me where it’s quiet. Be still for a moment. Breathe. Remember that I love you. Rest here.”
When we cry out, drained and surrendered, He leans in close to kiss our tears.
His whisper is the divine invitation to come and be quiet enough to hear what He has to say.
His embrace is the slow dance that brings us back into step with His good plan for our life.
His love is the love that never stops loving.