On Your Last Nerve
My youngest child is going through a screaming phase. This isn't the pterodactyl thing that many babies do. He's over 2 years old (and he can totally use words) but he screams a lot. He keeps things interesting by mixing in whining and crying with the screaming just in case I get bored.
There are many reasons for the screaming.
- Tell him no, and he screams in anger, frustration, and disappointment.
- Give him a command he doesn't like, and he screams in defiance.
- He's sick with a cold, so bring on the screams of discomfort.
- He's got a crumb on his finger from lunch and it won't come off. WHAAAAAAA!!!!
The kid can scream. It never gets him what he wants, but for whatever reason, he's not ready to quit screaming just yet. (Everyone assures me he'll grow out of it, and I pray they're right.)
In the meantime, I have a hard time holding it together on bad days. It can really wear on my nerves. I imagine it's similar to having a colicky newborn. You do what you can do, but you can't force them to stop, so you feel useless and helpless in addition to frazzled. I've realized that there's a limit to how much screaming I can take. When I get to the end of that rope, it's not pretty.
So, on those bad days, I try to lead my mind to something else … some spiritual lesson I can draw from this … somehow. And one thing comes strongly to mind:
God listens to me scream and cry and whine all the time. And He hasn't struck me with a bolt of lightning. Instead, He actually listens to me and comforts me. What an amazing Father He is!
Instead of getting frustrated and weary — "You again, Michelle? Didn't we just do this yesterday? Don't just blubber; use words." — He puts His arms around me and says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
He reminds me that my bad days are better than some other people's good days: "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:28, 30)
What's more, He actually invites me to bring Him my weary pleas (1 Peter 5:7). He asks me to come closer when I'm "screaming" for help instead of sending me away from His presence.
Becoming a parent has helped me (forced me) to respect and cherish the character of God so much more than I ever have before. He is the best and most experienced parent. When I don't know what to do in each specific situation that I face from moment to moment, I can rely on His Holy Spirit for guidance. Should I respond to my son's screams by turning into a brick wall or a soft blanket? The Holy Spirit is there to help me figure it out in real time.
I look back at my ugliest parenting moments — the ones without any grace, patience, or justice — and I compare them with the times in my life when God gave me so much more than I deserved. It helps me put things in perspective. It helps me look at my son with new eyes. (And hear his screams with new ears.)
When I despair that my son is never going to grow out of this stage, I think back to my own life and how long it took me to grow out of certain things. If Jesus can patiently wait on me and work with me, then I can draw on His strength to do the same for my child.
What in life is wearing you thin today? What gets on your last nerve? What issue keeps popping up day after day without end? Let's continue this conversation on Thursday. Stay tuned! I'll be back with an article titled, "The Cranky Cure."
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.