Loving Despite Ourselves

It’s been ages since I’ve put up a blog post, but I got a little “divine” inspiration this week!

It was one of those days. You know those days when nothing seems to go right, you don’t feel good, and everyone seems grumpy? Yup, one of those days. To make things worse, I was having some of the worst back pain ever and could hardly get around. Fortunately, I was off work as was my hubby and daughter. Early on in the day, Dave made it clear to Katie that she was to help me that day because of the pain I was having. In the beginning, she was more than happy to get things for me, bring me an extra blanket, whatever it was I needed. By lunch time, her demeanor was beginning to change.

“Katie, I’m going to stretch out on the bed for a while. While I do, could you please pick up the things that are on the floor of your bedroom and straighten up? And…make sure you get all your dirty clothes in the hamper because we’re doing laundry this afternoon,” I requested.

“Do I have to?” she whined.

“Yes, you do.”

“Make me!” she snidely snapped.

Moments later, her daddy having heard the nastiness in her voice offered some “incentive,” and she was grudingly cleaning her room, muttering under her breath and throwing things around in her room.  Soon, her bedroom door went shut and I heard the sounds of Toby Mac being played on her CD player. I knew instantly that the cleaning of her room had ceased.

I got myself out of the bed, which was no small feat with the pain I had, and walked across the hall to her room. I opened the door and said, “What are you doing?”

“Get out!” she yelled. “Get out of my room!”

As I made a quick survey of the room, I saw that very little progress had been made on the condition of her room. There were piles of stuff everywhere I looked and I had no idea how she’d ever get in her bed to sleep that night with all the things she had stacked on there.  I was angry. Not only had she disobeyed me,  but she had also disobeyed her daddy and now was talking back with quite a bit of attitude to boot.

“Is this what you were asked to do?” I said.

“No, but I don’t want to do stuff for you anymore today. I’m bored and I want to do this now.”

Trying to keep my cool, I replied, “You’re not just doing this for me or for Daddy, but you’re doing it for yourself too. Wouldn’t it be a whole lot nicer to sleep and play in a cleaned up room?”

“I don’t care,” she shouted. “I like it this way!”

“You do?” I questioned. “You enjoy sleeping on books and Legos and dirty clothes?”

“Yes, I do!”

David, having heard this interaction, came back the hall and laid down the law. There would be no more music, no more playing, no more goofing off until the room is picked up.  He ushered me back to our room and helped me back in bed and went back over to talk to Katie. “I believe we had an agreement that you would do what your mother asked you to do today.”

“Yeah, but I don’t want to do this!  She’s just being mean to me!”

“No she isn’t.  She loves you and wants the best for you and that’s one reason why she wants you to have a clean room. Mommy can’t clean it for you today, I’m taking care of laundry, dishes and cleaning up the living room and kitchen, and this is your room, so you must clean it yourself.”

“Fine!” she yelled, and proceeded to begin the process of cleaning her room.

Later, Katie came into the room and threw a piece of paper at me. It said, “Do you love me?”

What? I could hardly believe it! I was so upset! Of course, I loved her! How could she think otherwise? I was hurt, frustrated and all that hurt and frustration just seemed to intensify the pain.  I began to cry. Dave came into the room at that moment. “What’s wrong? Do you need more pain medication?”

“No,” I replied, “here.”  I handed him the note.

“I’m going to talk to her.”

“No, honey, don’t. It will just make things worse,” I sobbed.

Towards supper time, Katie had finished up rearranging her clutter (it was far from resolved) and cleared off her bed. I could see from my bed that progress had been made. “Katie?”

“What!” she yelled.

“Come here please.”

“What do you want now?” she snapped.

Disregarding her attitude, I asked, “It’s almost time for supper. If you could help me out of the bed, you and I could go to the kitchen and make supper together. I’ll let you cook.”

She smiled a little at this point. “What are we making?”

“Meatloaf.”

“Cool! And I can make it?”

“Yes. I’ll tell you what you need to do.”

“Just get out the recipe and I’ll follow it,” she said.

“I don’t have a recipe, Katie. I make it from memory, so I’ll have to tell you.”

“Fine,” she said the smile suddenly leaving her face.

She helped the best she could to help steady me as I crawled out of the bed and we went to the kitchen. I sat down at the table and started giving her directions. At several points of the process, I had her wash or rinse her hands at the sink. This seemed to just irritate her further. She got the meatloaf finished and put into the oven and I asked her if we could mix up a Betty Crocker potato mix to go with it. “Nah, you can do that. I’m done with this stuff. I need to go cool off. I’m mad at you.”

“Why are you mad at me now?” I questioned, still wondering and hurting from her written question earlier in the day.

“You wouldn’t let me do the meatloaf my way!”

I explained that when you cook, you have to follow the directions or it won’t turn out right. That explanation wasn’t good enough for her and she stomped off to her room. Soon sounds of Toby Mac were once again flowing out her door.

David walked into the kitchen and said, “Did she help you?”

“Yes, but only for a little bit,” I said.  I shared what had happened.

“I’ll go talk to her,” he said.

“No, this is our battle, David. I’ll deal with her later.”

Supper was delicious! We both gave Katie praise for the delicious meatloaf, but not a word of thanks came from her mouth.  She was sent to get her bath, again with much complaint, but she did go. When her bath was over, I asked her to go get her brush so that she could get her hair smoothed out and also to get ready for bed.  She stomped around and stomped around. “I can’t find my brush!” she screamed.

“It’s in my purse. You gave it to me to hold for you last night in the van and I told you I’d put it in my purse.”

She marched to the kitchen and immediately comes back. “It’s not in your coat!” she screamed.

“You didn’t listen to me!” I snapped back. “It…is…in…my…purse!”

She tramped back to the kitchen. She brings back my bag I carry to work and shoves it at me. “Find it yourself! It’s not in here!”

“I know it’s not in there,” I said, “because this isn’t my PURSE!”

“Aaaah!” She runs to the kitchen again. I’m hearing her grumble and grumble. Next thing I know, she’s walking back the hall brushing her hair.

“You found it I see!”

“Yeah, whatever…” she said.

I could hardly believe it. Here was my sweet 11-year-old acting quite like a moody teenager. And worst of all, she didn’t think I loved her. She was ready for bed and kissed and hugged her daddy, walked past me and back to her room. David was angry. “She needs to tell you goodnight!”

“I’ve got it,” I said and made my way to her room.

I went in and said, “Katie.”

“What!”

“You didn’t give me a goodnight hug and kiss.”

“Yeah, so?”

“Well, I’d like to have one.” I leaned down to hug and kiss her and she did not reciprocate. I was ready to break. I sat down on the end of her bed. “I got a note from you earlier today.”

“Yeah.”

“Did you really have to ask if I love you?” She immediately began to cry, I believe because she knew the answer.

“Maybe.”

“Why do you think I don’t love you?”

“You were asking me to do stuff and you wouldn’t let me just play and goof off.”

“Katie, do you realize that I ask you do things because I love you?”

“What?”

“Yes, I love you! I ask you do things like clean your room and help with supper because I want you to grow up to be responsible and to know how to do things.  I’m not doing it to be mean. Do you understand that?” As I said this, I looked at her dresser where a photo frame was sitting with various pictures of our family in it. My picture was missing. “I see you removed me from your picture frame. Do you want me not to be part of this family?”

“No!” she sobbed. “I was just mad at you. I don’t want you to leave me ever! I’m sorry! I’ll put it back. I guess I was just having a bad day today.”

“Me too,” I said. ” I thought you didn’t love me anymore either.”

I reached out to her and she fell into my arms and hugged me and kissed me. I tucked her in and gave her one more kiss goodnight. “Thanks for talking to me, Mommy.”

“You’re welcome, I love you, goodnight!”

Snow-Love-Wallpaper

I began to think over the events of the day as I laid down to sleep. I couldn’t help but think of how God has many days like this, days where His children totally disrespect Him and act as though they don’t love Him. Yet, he patiently waits for us to realize that He’s still there, He still loves us, and He’s willing to forgive us for our self-centeredness. God would do anything for us. This is made clear in in Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (NIV) What greater love could there be than giving up your own Son to cover our sins? That is true love.

So despite our humanity, despite our tendencies to think only of ourselves, despite our inability to fathom such a love as our Father has for us, He loves us anyway.  What a comforting thought.

As I drifted off to sleep, I thought of how I couldn’t wait to share that with Katie in the morning.

♥Miriam

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