The spring sun warms my face as I walk toward the front doors of the junior high. 7th and 8th grade students fan out from the doors, their childlike faces filled with joy and relief as they escape the structure of yet another school day.
I quickly catch sight of him, strolling out in his black school-logoed hoodie, his trendy, over-priced backpack slung over his right shoulder.
I raise my hand to wave, the usual thrill of seeing him each afternoon overcoming any protocol, eager to connect with him and hear the details of his day.
As he draws near, I notice he is not smiling. Matter of fact, his face reflects....What is that? Aggravation? Or wait just a moment.....Could it be (by golly I think it is!).....scorn??
And before I can even say hello, he grumbles, "Mom, what are you doing?"
In a split second I understand. Unlike all the other moms and dads who are waiting patiently in their cars in the parking lot, this mom actually had the audacity to get out of the car and stroll, nonchalantly even, into his junior high world of insecurities, fragile identities, and uncertain expectations.
Right out in broad daylight!
My son's two worlds were about to collide right before his eyes, and the very thought of such a catastrophe was bringing on intense fear and trembling.
His instinctive response? Cut mom off on the sidewalk and get her back to the car asap.
A knife stab to my mother's heart.
At that moment, I have a choice to make. I could choose to calm my hurt by instead embracing the truth of unpredictable hormones at 13 years of age, his known sensitivity to unexpected change, my knowledge of the caring, thoughtful young man he is on any given day.
I know full well how often this 13-year-old boy still calls me mommy and hugs me spontaneously at random moments. How just last night he flopped on my bed, concerned about a friend at school whom he feared was cutting himself, and then asked if we could pray about it together.
I could decide, in this unprecedented moment of 'scorn,' to see my entire son ~ the loving, complicated, insecure, compassionate, opinionated boy who brings us joy each and every day ~ and choose to simply let the hurt go.
I could choose to have that little "heart-to-heart talk" with him about sensitivity to others, about the importance of making others feel valuable (including one's own family members!) I could insist that moms get hurt feelings, too. I could point out that no one deserves to be scorned like that ~ ever ~ and that to treat someone this way reflects primarily on the character of the one scorning.
I could say all of this. And yes, I would be correct.
Matter of fact, as we drive along in the car, my "mom-speech" continues gaining momentum in my mind as I brew on the injustice of his criticizing my very presence in his day.
But I say nothing, not trusting myself yet, and as the miles go by I notice he is silent, too. And because I know him as well as I do, I recognize this silence as regret....and I find small comfort in this.
At one point he attempts small talk about his day, hoping the flurry of words will drown out those first few in greeting....But then he quiets again when I fail to respond.
I'm not trying to punish him. I'm just needing a little time to recover my heart from the stab. I haven't quite figured out how to be.
As I drop him at the church for practice, he's extra careful to be accommodating and helpful as we plan logistics for pickup. And for a moment, in the every day planning of our time, I begin to see the kindness of my son returning.
Oh, how I love him! Every last painful, endearing, aggravating, heart-breaking part of him.
How many times will I graciously forgive this boy simply because of this love? Because I know, as a forty-something mom, that growing up is just plain hard, and that the flesh wars with the spirit mercilessly each and every day? And how desperately we all fall short of His glory?
The next morning, as only God can orchestrate, I come across this passage in Isaiah, chapter 45:
Woe to him who strives with his Maker!
Shall the clay say to him who forms it:
'What are you making?'
Or shall your handiwork say,
'He has no hands'?
Woe to him who says to his father,
'What are you begetting?'
Or to the woman,
'What have you brought forth?'
And just like that I begin to connect some very painful dots in this story of my son and myself.
Suddenly, he is no longer the one scorning, the one in focus, but rather, it is me.
I crumble under the burden of pain my Heavenly Father must feel in the poignant, precious way He anticipates meeting with me each day ~ to reconnect and delight in daily details ~ only to be pushed aside for reasons unworthy.
How have I responded, as His child, when circumstances aren't my choosing? My design?
Have I, too, expressed scorn during certain seasons of my life, in this story He has lovingly written and choreographed, personally, for me?
Have I ever inquired grumpily, deep in my spirit, "God, what are you doing??"
Oh, how humbled and broken I am then, deeply ashamed of scorn I have shown my own loving Creator in matters both great and small over the years.
But of course He is not done with me. Does He ever leave us in this place of brokenness? As I sense the burden of scorn in my own heart, I become cognizant of the tremendous grace and love He bestows on me today and every day in spite of myself. Not because I deserve it....oh, not at all. But because He sees the entirety of my whole self: the ugly, the opinionated, the judgmental, the striving, the insecurities ~
And oh, how He loves me anyway.
How quick I am to judge my own heart on my intentions, yet to judge others on their actions.
Perhaps, I, too, can learn to love my son as my Heavenly Father so graciously loves me.
Bearing all things,
Believing all things,
Hoping all things,
Enduring all things.
A love that is never failing.
Labels: Parenting, Reflection