At about 9 pm last night, there was a knock at my door.
My dog immediately erupted into his deep and threatening ‘woofing’, so I opened the door to see who would stop by at such a late hour, unannounced. When I opened the door, my heart sank.
See, for the previous 20 minutes or so, I had been dealing with my oh-so-sweet-but-highly-emotional-seven-year-old daughter who does not like to be alone. Back when she was born, I made a conscious decision to spoil this child. I had heard, “You can’t spoil a baby.”
Well, I may have been the first.
(Actually, I was just so completely in love with cuddling my new bundle, and since I wasn’t running off to work everyday and could take the time to just love and hold her, I delivered an overdose. I was motivated by selfish reasons, to be sure – it just brought me so much joy to love on her!)
I don’t regret the time I spent with her, because it’s still one of my favorite things to do: cuddling with my kids. But I can see that she never learned to console herself – a skill that all human beings must learn. She doesn’t know that she’s capable of it, because she never had an opportunity to practice being alone. I wasn’t the only one – she also had 5 older siblings and a father who doted on her, too.
Fast forward seven years.
Even now she shares a room with her two sisters. At the prospect that she may need to go into another room by herself, she begins to look for someone to go with her. She simply can’t bear solitude… even when someone is in another room nearby.
This makes bedtime really tough, because even though there are seven children in three rooms upstairs, not everyone is ready to get there all at the same time. Sometimes her baby sister has fallen asleep on a couch, or maybe her big sister is busy finishing up something for me when it’s time for her to go to bed. That’s when the fussing starts, and if we don’t accommodate her immediately, she bursts into tears until she gets her way.
So, tonight was the night I was determined to show her that she DOES have coping skills. So long as someone in our family continually rescues her, she’ll never find out that she really IS okay by herself, and that she can find peace and happiness with her own thoughts using the amazing mind that God gave her. In fact, she has a genius mind that will eventually be capable of solving her every dilemma.
She needed to be left to herself long enough to learn this lesson. She was in a safe and controlled environment – and I was only a short hallway away. But in her mind, her very life was in peril. Her tantrum began, and she wouldn’t stop.
I wondered if I was doing the right thing, but something said I needed to let her experience it completely. Children will fuss until they’re too tired to fuss anymore, and then they calm down and find out they’re okay. I was prepared to wait this tantrum out if it took all night. I even told her sister, “I know it’s bedtime, but I want you to wait until she’s calm before you go up there.”
My plan was interrupted by the knock at the door. I opened it, and there were my neighbors in their bathrobes.
Cheerfully I greeted them, and with a concerned look on their face they asked me if everything was okay (as my daughter continued to scream: “Someone! Pleeeeeaase, heeeeeeeeelllllpp!”).
I smiled and said, “Yes, everything’s fine; let me tell you what’s going on.” So we stepped outside (where I thought we’d be able to hear each other better) and I told them what was happening. My dear neighbor chuckled and said, “My dear, we’ve all been there. Just wanted to make sure she wasn’t stuck in your garage or something.”
In the background my daughter was still screaming.
In fact, that’s when I realized that it was louder outside than I was hearing it inside – and it echoed down the street in both directions.
I went upstairs and said, “Bethany, let me show you something.” I took her onto the balcony so she could see the neighbors who were outside. As we stood hidden in the shadows, I quietly pointed across the street and said, “Do you see those people? They might have been getting ready to call the police because it sounds like someone is dying… Are you really in so much danger that you need the police to come?” She shook her head no. I said, “Did you know that I asked Kayli not to come up until you had calmed down?” She shook her head no.
I took her back to her room and she asked if she could try again. Within a few minutes she proved she could show self control – using her words rather than her screams – so I sent her siblings up to bed, and that was that.
Here’s something I’ve learned about life. We were all born with capabilities beyond our imagination. Not only do we have coping skills, but we also have untapped gifts and talents. How are they uncovered? Through hardship. I believe God sees where we have perhaps not yet discovered and developed one of the gifts he’s given us, so he allows us to feel alone and permits challenges to overwhelm us.
The truth is, he has created a very safe, controlled environment for our growth. We think we’re in peril; but we’re really not. It’s an illusion, just like my daughter’s peril was imaginary.
We think all is lost; we think there’s no hope, and we think we need a rescue. But the more we rant, and the louder we fuss, the longer it may take to experience the relief we seek.
Perhaps this is the week, the month, the day, the year, the decade that God is determined to show you that you DO have coping skills, somewhere deep down inside. So long as you keep waiting for a rescue, you may never find out that you really ARE okay just as things are, and that you do have coping skills built into the amazing mind that God gave you. You do have a genius mind that can create solutions for yourself – and it’s something I believe God wants you to discover.
Do you ever wonder if God’s doing the right thing by you? Does it feel like he’s taking a really long time to answer? Well, God just may wait until you have “experienced it completely”. I believe He knows you might fuss until you’re too tired to fuss anymore, and then you’ll calm down and find out you’re really okay. I’m sure he’s prepared to wait out such tantrums if it takes an eternity. Maybe he’ll step in now and then to remind you to be at peace, but it’s up to you to obey the recommendation. Perhaps he’s even telling the angels, “I know it’s taking a while, but I want you to wait until (s)he’s calm before you go help out.”
You think you need a rescue, but maybe what you really need is to calm down and discover the answers that God has already placed inside of you. If you’re not yet asking the right questions, life will continue to deliver experiences that shake you up and leave you so perplexed that you have nothing else to do but to look inward to find them. Look diligently enough and you’ll also find your hidden talents, skills, and gifts he’s given you.
I want to help you find them. Join me in the FTMF Program – it’s all really simpler than you think.