“Can’t nothing bring me down, because I’m happy…”
I listened to the song streaming from the car radio speakers, and I was just about to believe the words, to claim them for myself. Then I remembered what had just happened.
And then I heard my toddler scream from the back seat, I WANT A BOTTLE OF WATER!!!
The song was over. I was completely at a loss, baffled once again by how such tiny, happy people can get so overcome with negative emotion so quickly.
I’d just praised him, told him I was proud of him for being so patient as we shopped, for being so helpful and kind.
Then the battle out the door, screaming without saying clear words, a fight about something I couldn’t control, because it was too late.
I’d literally put him into the car and closed the door, because he was ready to run through the parking lot back to the store. The hitting and scratching to get away from me…all for a bottle of water.
When it comes on and you’ve barely got time to think, you have to ask yourself what’s happening, and hope that you can handle it, surely, you’ve got it covered.
But when it’s the worst one your child has thrown at you, in the middle of a parking lot, and your almost 2-year-old is starting to roll off into the lot in the Target shopping cart– there is nothing but blank panic.
So half way through the drive home, in the middle of that second (or was it the fifth?) ear-piercing scream, I screamed back.
Then I turned back around and I felt my own heaviness, all of my own impatience and tantrum throwing.
I jumped back-and-forth between the reality of myself and the reality of God, asking if I look anything like Him.
I told Eliot we would talk about it when we got home. I just kept breathing it, begging it, God, help me.
I told him I was sorry for screaming, and I watched his shoulders relax for a second before another wail echoed through the car– still, for the water bottle.
Yesterday I read the meaning of grace. I read from Ann Voskamp, that it’s a filling up of favor, the gift given freely, with such incredible joy.
It hovered over my spirit right then, lingered in me, pressing itself deeper and deeper in. Grace.
Grace, it seems, fills our emptiness, gives color to our lifelessness, releases us to be truly alive.
So I carried Eliot upstairs to our apartment, and we sat on the bed, talking about it all.
I knew I couldn’t explain grace in that moment, but I could let it seep out of me and cover him, the exhausted boy sitting beside me.
After apologies and kisses, I took him a snack, found him nearly asleep on his bed. Face to the sky, eyes closed, quiet.
Sometimes that’s what grace does, when we’ve exhausted ourselves trying to make Him understand that all we want is that shiny, clear water bottle.
Sometimes that’s what grace does. And we’re left resting, trusting that someone else might know what’s good for us, trusting the gift and the love and the kindness.
Every time we go through the ringer like this, I am stopped right where I am, looking God straight in the eyes, me the child, me the one trying to learn to trust Him all over again.
It’s my life flashing tantrum by tantrum, mistrust by mistrust.
And then it’s His embrace, His filling me back up, His grace.
And I’m left resting on my bed, just like Eliot, just trying to give in to it after that long and hard fight.