|Anna struggles to roll over for the first time, 2004|
I was watching Chloe on her play mat, attempting to roll over. At not-yet four months, she's done it a couple of times, which to me is pretty good for a child who had her legs in a brace for her first 12 weeks.
She was up on her tummy and her arms, and I placed a toy just out of reach to entice her a little; to give her something to work towards. At first, she was highly motivated. She started kicking...reaching...doing anything she could to scooch herself forward. For a moment I saw a flash of Anna at the same age, furiously determined, learning to roll in the same spot on the TV room floor.
Then there was that moment when Chloe was just DONE, frustrated at not being able to get what she wanted, and I pushed the toy where she could reach it. My heart couldn't bear for her to feel like this was just a tease, that she was a mouse chasing an ever-moving piece of cheese.
I thought suddenly about that Bible verse, about God not allowing us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. I thought about the feeling that had just risen up within me, the compassion that welled when I saw how hard she was working. Suddenly for a moment, I could see God's heart. As someone who has sometimes questioned, "Is God up there playing cosmic jokes on some of us?" "Is God throwing things at me to see what will stick and what will rise up out of me?" (hello, book of Job!), I long for these moments. When I placed that toy where I did to stretch her, when I pushed it back within her reach before she could completely overwhelm herself, I saw for a flash God's intentions, God's heart, toward me, towards all of us.
Yes. But. Isn't there always one? What about those times when we aren't just being pushed out of our comfort zones but truly stretched beyond what we can bear? I thought this, sitting on the rug, continuing to watch her kick around and bat at toys.
In my mind's eye I saw myself holding Chloe at her doctor's appointment, getting shots. I saw myself cradling Ethan at just a few days old, getting blood drawn to see if his jaundice was improving. I heard the echo of their blood-curling screams, frantic and desperate and not understanding why they were being subjected to this pain. I saw the tears welling in my own eyes as I held them, knowing things they couldn't even attempt to know, knowing things would be okay.
In a second the picture was gone. But I found myself immensely grateful for a glimpse. I seem to be on a lifelong quest to reprogram my mind, to believe: God is good. Now please, show me?
For a second, I saw. And then Chloe began to fuss, and I picked her up and held her against my shoulder, as we looked out the window at the pouring rain, at the raindrops sliding down the glass.