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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Is anyone watching?

We have reached full toddlerhood in our home. Elliot, our youngest at 16 months, our easy, fit-into-our-family-with-no-effort baby, the joyful glue that brings his siblings together in caring for him, has become a bit....difficult. He loathes being changed. The writhing, squirming, fighting, kicking, and screeching that accompanies a new diaper and a box of wipes would easily get him accepted into a college-level wrestling program with full scholarship. He has begun pushing his older sister when she has something he wants, throwing food on the floor just for kicks, and displaying dissatisfaction with the slightest attempt at discipline.

A few days ago, when my mother (who's here to help during my bedrest) was horrible enough to take something away from him, he began wailing and crying and carrying on as if his life was ending. He threw himself on the floor, arms splayed, and with a thump dropped his forehead to the carpet.

Then, for a moment, he lifted his head to peek and make sure...

"Is she still watching?"

...and, seeing that she was, continued his tirade.

Oh, my, is that our human nature so obviously rearing its head in our little sweet boy?

I have to admit that I did the unthinkable and laughed. Maybe it's because this time I am not in control of the discipline- it doesn't work very well from the couch. And yet his tantrum and obvious desire for attention got me to thinking.

I am prone to doing the same thing.

When I am frustrated, disappointed, angry, annoyed, I want someone to notice. I try and hide my emotions for a time but they will inevitably make their way to the surface and I know you'll agree with me when I say that there's no satisfaction in throwing a tantrum by yourself. I'd much rather have a sympathetic ear, someone that clicks their tongue in understanding, to keep me company at my pity party.

But maturity brings a different view. Sure, we have friends, spouses, family to lend an ear if we need it and God can certainly use them for comfort, healing and encouragement. But what does the scripture say about airing our grievances?
I cry out loudly to God, loudly I plead with God for mercy.
I spill out all my complaints before him,
and spell out my troubles in detail.

Psalm 142:1-2

Ahhhh, now doesn't that feel better?

I receive so much more reward when I lay out my list of complaints before God instead of those around me. I receive refreshment, perspective, grace, relief, love and a new start. It is tempting to complain to others, and I do still fall into that trap, but it often will leave me feeling more lousy than before I vented my frustrations and will most likely leave the hearer with some of my negativity as well. God is the healer. God is the author of forgiveness. God is my creator and knows my thoughts before I even give them voice. With Him I find acceptance and accountability and can leave His feet with a renewed sense of peace.

Elliot, I hope, will learn this lesson too. If I do my job, I'll be able to point him in the direction of the one who is always watching, no matter how badly we act, and willing to pick up our pieces and recraft them into a new creation time and time again. His toddler tantrums will eventually be a thing of the past, so I can snicker a bit now, but as he matures Elliot will learn of the One who loves him enough to listen to his complaints and turn the time of sharing into a relationship with Him.



Blogger Linda said...

This devotional is so real and so full of real truth Christine. I think I acted the part of a toddler the other day when I wrote a post complaining about feeling a bit down. You are right. I was trying to be honest, but honestly I probably was hoping someone was "looking". I guess I just needed a bit of sympathy and encouragement.
The very best place to find that is at the foot of the throne. Who better to tell my troubles to than the One who knows exactly what to do.
Thank you for this beautiful picture of real wisdom.
By the way - I remember back about 33 years when my very compliant, pleasant toddler became a "terrible twoer" overnight. I remember looking at him and thinking "Where did you come from and where is my sweet little boy." Thankfully it was a passing phase and the sweet boy returned. He's still that way :)

April 30, 2007 at 9:16 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

How very true, thanks for sharing.

May 1, 2007 at 4:07 AM  
Blogger Jen and family said...

what Elliot is doing is a very normla toddler thing
My nearly 18 month is going through it too
jen at

May 1, 2007 at 5:32 AM  
Anonymous Lynn Donovan said...


These are wise words. Taking our complaining to God, is the first thing to do. I know that many times our complaints fall on other people first. Much to think about. I apprecaite this post. Thank you.

May 1, 2007 at 9:21 AM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Oh, that makes me laugh too--it's so funny. But how true that we all have that inside us. Thanks for posting today! I posted too, because I had to let everyone know that you had your baby. :)

May 1, 2007 at 1:05 PM  
Blogger Cyndi said...

Oh, I was so glad to read this post! I remember those moments. And in a way, what you were saying (SO true!) reminds me of the Israelites. They would grumble and complain, but not *to* God- the One who could change circumstances and hearts. They complained, instead, *about* Him and His provision- as it it weren't enough. I think it's okay to bring it before Him, in a spirit of reverence for Who He is, because it expresses confidence in His sovereignty. Great post today, Christine, during this eventful time!

May 1, 2007 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger The Preacher's Wife said...

"It is tempting to complain to others, and I do still fall into that trap, but it often will leave me feeling more lousy than before I vented my frustrations and will most likely leave the hearer with some of my negativity as well. God is the healer."

I loved that you said this...I NEVER feel better after I have whined! And what is so bad is that I am tempted to whine to others yet I have a hard time tolerating this in others. Talk about the plank in the eye!:P

I think of Psalm 73 when Asaph says, "If I would have spoken thus (the complaints of my heart), I would have betrayed your children."

It is so important to lay our words against whether they will tear down or build up..Thanks for this wonderful reminder..

May 4, 2007 at 9:53 AM  

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