I held him in my lap, his ear close to my heart, rocking back and forth slowly on the old rocking chair. This was not how it was.
Earlier, he had pushed my buttons to their limits. Earlier, he had looked at me with those testing eyes and done precisely what I had told him not to do. Earlier, he had been so whiny that I couldn’t even understand what he was trying to whine about. Earlier, he had been crying and frustrated.
Earlier, I had no patience for his delays. Earlier, I had no grace for his deliberate disobedience. Earlier, I used my mean voice. Earlier, I put him in time out on multiple occasions. Earlier, I felt my heart filling with bitterness. Earlier, I buried my head in prayer because it was the only thing I had the strength to do. Earlier, I was crying and frustrated.
Earlier, I thought that the battle to get his dirty pull-up changed followed by the battle to get him into his bed for nap would be the end of it. Earlier, I assumed that his poor attitude was from over-tiredness. Earlier, I was thankful for the silence I heard from the bedroom, signaling that sleep had come and that there was rest for my weary mom-soul.
But he woke from his nap groggy and crabby, still holding stubbornly to his idea of how the house should be run. I quickly put up my defenses, preparing for another hour of hard ball. He deliberately disobeyed; I threatened with more punishment. He cried and I looked at the clock, marking the minutes until my husband would be home. And I prayed again, “God, show me how to reach through to him.” I was tired of being frustrated with him, and he was sick of being the source of my frustration. He stood at the door to the backyard, weeping.
I put dinner in the oven and walked over to him, not knowing what to do. I picked him up and he held on tight. So I held on tight. I sat down in the rocking chair that gets rare use. And we rocked. He and I. Me and him. His sobs gradually slowing, and then silencing, as I lightly rubbed his back. We stayed like that for a long time. I talked to God about redemption, and thanked him for redeeming me as a mom and my son as a boy. Peace found its way back to my soul. I spoke in soothing words to my boy about forgiveness and love. He snuggled into me and his breathing slowed. I had dinner in the oven and a baby moving around in my belly, but I didn’t care. There was no other thing I wanted to be focused on in that moment than my relationship with my son. There was no room for anything in my heart than beholding the beautiful joy of being brought back together after pushing each other away. In a simple act, a simple sharing of space and silence and slowed breaths, the cares and frustrations from before vanished like smoke, and were replaced by true and lasting love from God.
Dear heart, this is redemption. This is forgiveness. This is love.
I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me for I have redeemed you.