Most of us have one.
The child who makes us more Godly. The one who plays by his own rules, who makes us want to pull our hair out at times. The one who keeps us up at night and who makes us leave the grocery store while in a tantrum. Sally Clarkson calls him “the tail that wags the dog”. Others call him “the difficult child”.
They are often the ones most like us. The ones we see great potential in. They become inventors, CEOs, actors, world changers and life shapers. But first they are children in our homes. Given to us, by God, to nurture, raise and build into.
One year, we were headed to the Mom Heart conference at a nice hotel. I was going to be speaking and my kids were going to be the welcoming committee in charge of passing out chocolate. Dressed up with baskets in hand, my girls listened while I gave instructions in the car for the duties ahead. One daughter began complaining about having to serve. She didn’t want to help. As I parked the car, I saw her get out of the car and begin to have a two-year tantrum on the hotel asphalt ground.
My first instinct with this kind of conduct is to reprimand in a very stern voice, “Get up off the ground! This is not the kind of behavior I expect! You are embarrassing Mama. Get up this instant!” The flailing continued.
Flashing before my eyes, I saw the sign hanging on my refrigerator. “Today, the moment when I am most repelled by a child's behavior, that is my sign to draw the very closest to that child.” ~ Ann Voskamp
Sitting down on the filthy ground, I began to cradle my very large baby and sing to her. Speaking words of truth, love and grace, I stroked her hair and smiled at her. The scene in the parking lot did draw attention, and my older children remained strapped into their seats, slightly embarrassed. A near 10 minutes passed. Suddenly, she reached for her basket of chocolates, jumped up and skipped into the hotel.
All she wanted was time from me.
While this is not always the case, my complex child continues to keep me on my toes. She is my puzzle to figure out. Every day can bring new challenges.
I often ask God, “Why did You think I was ready for the task of raising this kind of child?”
His answer is simple. He knows what is best for me. He knows what it will take to make me more like His son. He knows I need to learn patience, strength and wisdom. He knows I need to be more loving and understanding. All of these lessons are wrapped up in one little nine-year old ball of energy, and she is all mine!
If I can remember to draw near to her in these moments, I will win her heart. If I remember to stop my busy schedule and focus on her in the times she needs me, she responds to the King of the universe. If I get down on my knees at these times on her level, she calms her heart and can enter into all God has planned for her. “Draw the very closest to that child”.
How do you reach your difficult child?