24 Jan In the midst of the mess
“Mesmerizing” by skippyjon is licensed under CC BY 2.0
I am proud to feature a piece today from Steve Austin, a new friend of mine. I can’t get enough of his blog, I AM STEVE AUSTIN, WRESTLING WITH MESSY GRACE. I hope you enjoy it, JJ
My four-year-old has had five meltdowns in the past two weeks. It’s a new record. If you’ve got kids, you know the drill: kicking, screaming, and general falling apart over something major… like the end of a t.v. show or the fact that I won’t give him another glass of milk.
Sometimes I handle his outbursts with calmness and grace. Other times, as I kneel down, eye-level, begging my little boy to calm down, I secretly imagine popping his little blonde head like a zit.
He’s done it twice at school now, and I think his grandma may not have fully comprehended just how bad things have been until she witnessed his wild-eyed fury at her house.
Sunday morning, we got up and went to church. He loves church. He loves the class and the puppets and his teacher and his friends and the social aspect of it. At four years old, he craves independence, so he got to pick out his own outfit that morning and did a great job. Things were looking really good.
Ten minutes into the pastor’s sermon, my son’s number popped up on the monitors on the back wall of the sanctuary. One-thirty-one. I probably growled as I stood up, disgusted with my son’s behavior. I was a man on a mission, standing from the front row, in front of 600 other congregants to retrieve my son from his class. I kicked myself all the way up the middle aisle. Why did we sit on the front row, I thought to myself. We never sit on the front row. Obviously, we did it because God has a sense of humor; otherwise, this experience wouldn’t be quite as humiliating.
The coordinator smiled as she met me near the check-in desk and said, “Look Ben, there’s Daddy.” She wasn’t upset. She wasn’t frazzled or angry. This wasn’t playing out quite like I had imagined. “Was he angry?” I asked. “No,” she responded, “He was scared. He wanted his Momma and Daddy and when we started putting up chairs, he freaked out a bit. I think it was related to the transition.”
Our family has just come through an entire year of transition. Alabama to Alaska, uprooting my child from everything he knows and holds dear. Then the job fell through and we moved back after only four months. We lived in his grandparent’s basement for eight months, and as much as he loved it, he knew it wasn’t home. He knew we would be moving again. He must have been holding his breath the entire time.
And now, we are home. The renters have moved out and we are back in our own house. After one very long year, my little boy is finally back in familiar surroundings. When I stop and think about it, this year has been a quarter of his life. Poor kid.
I didn’t always do well in our transitional year. I held my breath and had some meltdowns, too. I have shed plenty of tears, kicking and screaming, wondering where I might find this peace that surpasses all understanding. I rarely felt God in the middle of my own tantrums.
I am not a perfect father by any means, but this experience with my little boy has taught me a great deal about my Heavenly Father’s reaction to me. God has been there, holding me the whole time. Just as I knew God could handle my frustrations and doubts this past year, as I hurdled them His way, my son knows the very same thing. He never questions where he belongs or if I will ever stop loving him. He is completely comfortable and safe, expressing himself to his father, knowing all I want to do is hold him and make it all okay.
I would never reject my fragile, wonderful little boy. In fact, seeing his response to hard times, confusing times, or times of transition just breaks my heart.
Instead of being humiliated by my little boy’s actions, I am going to try and follow in his footsteps: living my life honestly, never fearing the rejection of my own Father. Others may not always be able to handle my “crazy” behavior, but all God wants to do is love me in the midst of the mess.
Steve Austin is a family man and writer from Birmingham, Alabama. He is passionate about capturing stories which point to God’s purpose and the power of second chances. Connect with Steve at www.iamsteveaustin.com or on Facebook and Instagram.