Right at the end of dinner, when all seems to be going well. Right before the final bites, when we’re starting to give the post-meal directions. Right when we’re looking at the clock, wondering how time went so fast and we had to be ready to go basketball practice. Right then, our old friend Tantrum showed up.
A few sassy words. A disrespectful tone. A deliberate, willful act of obedience. A consequence of no basketball practice this evening. Tears. Words. Screams. Stomps. Life isn’t fair and we are harsh parents. We’ve heard this song before.
To be fair, Tantrum had told us he was coming. Change is in the atmosphere. Our family will be growing soon. Placement calls have dinged the phone. Circumstances haven’t lined up.
But Tantrum Thrower is internalizing that change. Difficult behaviors. Rude tones. Living life on the line between obedience and obstinate.
One child still needed to get dressed and out the door. Who set practices at 7:45 p.m.? UGH. Tantrum Thrower was just getting into bed when I took a detour to to say goodnight before taking the other child across town to practice. Scowls. Grunts. Flips. And a push away when I leaned in.
What our Father must feel when we’re throwing our own tantrums or exploring the depths of disobedience. That thought struck me between the Starbucks drive thru (don’t judge!) and the tsunami of parents leaving the more-normally scheduled practices at the community center.
Years ago, a pastor cautioned us about fostering because of the issues the children would have. In a way, he was right. The issues can be hard. These kids wear the crap that everyone has flung on them right on their sleeves. And their pants and their hoodies. It’s out there for everyone to see.
And people give up on them. Before they even try to know them. But He never does.
But what about the rest of us? Are we better? Are we more put together? Somewhere along the way, we learned to stuff it inside, to hide it away, to dress it up. In the south we call it “putting the crazy away.” Miranda Lambert wrote a song about it. (Again, no judging- she’s good.)
We can all put on a mighty fine act ya’ll. We can hide it deep down until something ruptures and the light shines on all of our ugly. Then it’s on full display for the world to see. Like my sweet Tantrum Thrower tonight.
I love my little misfit. He brings me such joy and such fulfillment and love, am I to give up on him when he decides to act a fool? Strut his stuff? Pull all the angry, ugly out on the main stage? Of course not. We would Never give up on Him.
And that’s why I’m thankful for what God says through Jeremiah, that He loves us with an everlasting love. Not conditional. Not time-limited. No stipulations. No fine print. No disclaimers. Everlasting love. It goes on and on and on and on and on.
That, by the way, reminds me of a worship song. His love never fails. It never gives up. It never runs out on us. To truly know His love is to be overwhelmed by it. To be aware of your failures and your shortcomings and daily give it over to Jesus. To live humbly and kindly.
I don’t take it personal when my kids act out toward me. I don’t internalize the reasons why he didn’t want to hug me. I don’t become bitter toward him for his actions. I love him through it.
Tomorrow, I’ll hug him good morning and we’ll talk about it and move on. Imperfect people in need of a Perfect Savior walking through a certainly unjust world together. That’s family. And it’s true of a biological family. A blended family. Or a faith family.