And so here come the tantrums.
It hasn’t taken long for Small One to master the art of tears, writhing on the floor and general despair and disappointment in reaction to not getting what he wants. A few mornings ago I was drinking my hot lime and honey in the kitchen, and he walked in and said what sounds like “seed.” He means “CD,” and in toddler words what he said was, “It’s so cool to put a CD into the slot in your Macbook Mommy, I want to do that and listen to music. NOW.”
So I told him that he would have to wait until Mommy finished drinking her hot lime and honey. Enter loud wailing and a crushed little face as he walked back and forth between the kitchen and the living room. He would periodically return to the kitchen, take my hands and try to pull me toward the computer saying, “seed, seed, seed.” I held my ground, the drama escalated, eventually Husband came out to get his coat and get ready to leave for the day, and then my drink was done. Small One came back in, and I said, “Say please,” and he says “Peace” in a heartbroken little voice, then I say “help me” and he says “help.” And we walk to the laptop to find some music. I hold him, we sit on the couch together and cuddle as Welcome to Our World starts to fill our apartment.
Living with a child shows me daily me the simplicity and purity of human emotions, in this particular event, here’s the lesson: Unfulfilled longing equals sorrow.
It would be easy to say that his longings are shallow and unimportant compared to mine. He will after all be distracted in 10 minutes by something else; yes, it’s true. But are grown ups all that different? We may not walk around an apartment wailing and crying when we don’t get what we want (or maybe we do), but we feel the crushing blows of disappointment.
Longing burns in each human soul. Can’t you feel it? The ache inside of you for something. I feel it as I fold the laundry, cook food and hunt for wooden blocks while finding mounds of dust and dirt under our red IKEA sofa – I don’t always know what “this feeling” is for, but it is real, it is there, and it whispers always, There is something more for you than this. This isn’t me downplaying my life as a stay-at-home wife and mom. I felt this way sitting in a university newsroom, history classes, writing press releases for a communications job, traveling around the world, volunteering in churches, in almost everything in my life, I have heard the whisper in my heart saying, There must be more, this does not satisfy.
Yes, waiting is part of life, and we all wait for glory to be revealed in us. But there is also now, a now where we often feel at the mercy of other people’s ambitions, where we carry out another person’s vision or plan, where we bear the weight of others’ longings, and we wonder, But what about my dreams? My plans? My longings?
Do we hear the eternal Yes of God to the questions of our now? He is always saying Yes to something. Why do we only hear his no? Why do we only see the thing we can’t do? Could it be that there is – now, yes, NOW – a Yes from him here?
No and wait are only worth listening to if they are directed toward timing and actions – we should never regard No and Wait when it is directed toward our identity. God never says No or Wait to our identity, to who we are because if we are found in him, he is our identity, and he will never say no to himself.
This is the painful, difficult process we go through with Small One on a daily basis, trying to fill his days with Yes, Yes, Yes, creating a home where he has the freedom to explore, modifying my expectations for cleanliness and order to inspire his creativity and freedom, allowing our days to have noise, laughter and chaos.
But oh when the words No and Stop come out of my mouth, as they do daily and they must, how I long for him to hear, “No” to your actions, “No” to this particular thing in this particular moment, but always “YES” to you, my son, always “YES” to who you are, always “YES” to us, to our relationship, nothing can change that my heart to you is always and forever “YES.”
Who says “No” or “Wait” to you today? Stop listening if they speak to your identity. These people might be nice, kind and well intentioned; control can look like love, it can masquerade as care, but it is neither loving nor caring. Surround yourself with people who wisely release you into your dreams, who walk with you into your callings, and listen to them, to their words, to their lives.
I tell myself this today – Devi, do not believe the lie that something far off cannot also be close by. Do the next thing. Do what you can today. Search for my “Yes.” Can you see it? Today, yes even now, will your eyes be open to the way I say “Yes” to you, to who you are, to your longings? And when you find my yes, do not wait, go and do it.