So the other day, we were having … a day. For those of you who have or have had 4-year-olds, you know exactly what I mean. I came home from work and immediately Michael became “my child.” I knew this because my wife’s first words to me were, “Your son …” It took me only a few minutes to determine that he was grumpy, cantankerous, and generally a booger head (that’s a clinical term).
We sat down to dinner and it immediately became a contest of wills. If there’s one thing my family does well, it’s being stubborn. When my firstborn nature, my wife’s Irish and Ukrainian heritages, and my son’s toddlerhood combine, it creates a storm that would make Captain Tyne flee for the shore. This particular night was one of those perfect storms.
So I went against my instinct. I took my son by the hand and led him outside. He cried, thinking he was going to get a spanking (which he rarely gets) and then he thought he was getting put in time-out. Instead, I sat down on the porch chair, took him into my lap. And just sat and held him for a few minutes.
He said he was glad we were in Florida, but I could tell he missed Ohio – certainly his friends. So we sat quietly. After a bit, he was fine. We walked inside and he ate his dinner.
That just made me think. There are certainly times that we need to push through our problems in life and face them head-on. There are other times that we need a respite.
One of wife’s least favorite scripture passages is Luke 10:38-42, when Jesus is at the home of Mary and Martha. Martha is running around trying to take care of details, while Mary sits at the feet of Jesus. When Martha is upset about this, Jesus gives her a concise summary (which I have been known – in times of wild abandonment – to text to my own wife Martha), “Martha, Martha, You are worried and upset about many things.” (Luke 10:41 NIV).
Often we get “stuck.” We get into ruts of thinking, feeling, or doing and don’t even know why. We need to take breaks to get out of these.
How we break may vary. Sometimes we just need to be sad. And that’s okay – it’s an acceptable place to visit, but we just don’t want to live there. Sometimes we need to be angry. I have – on more than one occasion – let God know when I’m upset about something. I rarely win that particular argument, but He’s gracious enough to let me work through.
So if you need a break from the fight, here’s permission to take one. Just make sure to get back to the table and eat your supper when you’re done.