Like many seven-year-olds, my son struggles with controlling his impulses. He acts impetuously first and examines his behavior later. If he deems the stunt a success, as he did “stair surfing” with a sleeping bag, he’ll try it again — unless his “mean mom” intervenes. If the antic failed, like the time he tried swinging from a towel bar, he’ll count it a loss and find a new trick.
Woven deep throughout his DNA, this behavior isn’t new. He’s been perfecting it at the expense of his forehead since toddlerhood. In fact, he sported a large egg-shaped bruise on his noggin the Easter Sunday right before he turned two. His older sister, who was five at the time and twice his size, stood on the wooden ledge that bordered a small hill in front of the home we lived in. The ledge that separated the sidewalk from the lawn, stood about a foot high. After obtaining her balance, she slowly walked across the splintered beam. Not wanting to miss out on a thrill, my son hoisted his frame on top of the ledge. My hands held a camera, so I asked him to wait. I knew he needed my assistance to secure his balance before he could follow his sister.
Ignoring my advice, he took off in a wobbly, frenzied tot-sized stride. Just seconds after the soles of his shoes touched the wooden ledge, his tender forehead collided with the cement sidewalk. Dropping my camera, my fingers pressed against his collarbone just in time to slow the tumble, which lessened the the damage caused by the blow. But I wasn’t able to stop his fall.
A sorrowful wail burst from the depth of his lungs and his hot tears seeped through my blouse as I held him close to my chest comforting him with every ounce of love I owned. I did not lecture or scold him about his actions . . . natural consequence took care of that.
In that moment of temporary agony, I simply covered my child with myself, tender words, and kisses. I reminded him that he was loved.
When it comes to the issue of my own identity, my deposition is too often like my son’s. He strains to wrangle in his physical impulses, while I strain to keep my emotional liberations in check.
Too often I strained to be a carbon copy of someone I admired instead of allowing myself to feel cozy in my own skin. More than once had I hopped on top of a ledge stacked with comparisons, looking at those ahead of me and wanting to catch up . . . wanting to be anywhere but in the place in which I stood.
But whenever I rushed to claim a character trait that was never assigned to me, I’d slip, fall, and cry out for solace, not understanding why I failed. And after each fall caused by my pride, God scooped me up into His arms, held me tight, and covered me with His love.
For when I’m closest to my Father, I’m calmer and confident of my purpose as His daughter.
When I direct my spirit to God’s desires for me instead allowing my whims to reign over my heart, I stop before I fool myself into thinking I would be worth more if I could sing or decorate or solve math equations with ease. Instead, I listen when I hear my Father’s voice asking me to stave my impulse to reinvent the woman He took great care to create.