During those long, long, long first months of Aed’s life, there was a lot of struggle. He was struggling, we were struggling, and there didn’t seem to be a lot we could do about it.
Every day wasn’t bad, but so many were so difficult. I would reach my limit some days and ask Ian to come home to attempt to quiet our screaming babe while I ran away or did something else for a while.
My frustration would peak and I would lose all sense of sympathy for my child and just get angry. Why does he always cry? Why won’t he just sleep? Why, why, why? I often felt like a failure and as time passed and we found there were some reasons for his crying, I turned to struggling with guilt.
In a situation like that – one which repeats itself again and again – a natural response is to find coping mechanisms. I knew that I struggled with anger during some of those times, and so I would try to redirect myself. I found that if I was fuming and frustrated, so was the rest of my home. So I read about screaming babies online, causes, ways to deal with it. I found some very helpful things.. In fact one little blurb completely changed my outlook on the crying, but it didn’t stop the crying, so it was still a daily struggle. I began doing My Daily Thankful posts in hopes that focusing myself each day on all of the amazing things the Lord was doing in our home and lives would help me to deal more gracefully with the difficult things.
I am disappointed to say that I rarely went to Jesus during those times, except in anger. It seemed so unfair to us and to Aed. I would just ask over and over, why?
A lot of my sinning happens inwardly. I have rarely been one to lash out or break the rules. I am a people pleaser and I like for everyone to get along. But all the sins that so easily snuggle into the dark places within? Those are the sins that know me best. They fit just so, and I often welcome them in and harbor them without realizing it until it’s too late. I did this so often during that time of struggle. I would ‘cut myself some slack’ and let myself do things I never would have done previously, because my life was so hard, you see. (please read that with the sarcasm it was written with :)
One way that I learned to cope was to lash out in anger.. but only in my head. Occasionally I would have a good cry into a pillow or something, but for the most part I just went crazy in my head.
I am not now, nor have I ever been one to use curse words. I find them unnecessary and uncreative. Sure, some believe they have their place, but in my own life, they don’t. I have no clear recollection of when it started, but I remember it was slippery slope. I let myself swear in a place only I knew it was happening, and it felt good. I remember the progression of letting myself only consider it, then letting myself do it, then letting it getting out of control.
I got to the point where when I hit any frustration, cursing within was my immediate response. It escalated so that when I was really frustrated (typically a bad day of screaming) I would actually lash out straight in Jesus’ face and give all my curse words to him and his injustice. I think I may have even said a few out loud towards the end of this indulgence.
For some of you, this will seem like a silly thing to even consider. But, for me it is an issue of self-control versus indulging my sinful nature.
It came to me one morning while I was making our bed. I began to think about the way cursing affected my thinking. Every time I let myself push the limits a little further, I would feel that I was that much more entitled to my anger and that much more entitled to the indulgence. It felt so good, and was so easy to justify, and it was mine and mine alone. As soon as I would lash out inwardly, I felt the perceived trueness of my plight and became that much more angry.
I’m not one to focus much on what Satan thinks about things because I find those lines to all be a bit fuzzy, but if he was paying attention, I think he was reveling in those moments. Moments when a child turned on her parent and played an angry blame game. Moments that pulled me further away and isolated me from the Lord’s sustaining hand. I gradually lost hold of so many things that are important to me, which made it easy for me to feel as though I was shriveling away from any goodness Jesus brought to my soul.
I thought that satisfying my desire to be angry and to be justified in that anger would help me cope. Instead it pulled me away from the one thing that might have allowed me to cope in the graceful way I longed for – my relationship with Jesus.
Ever since that morning when I began to realize all of this, I have honestly felt a burden lifted. I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit found a way to catch my attention in that moment. In the past months, I have felt that I am becoming myself again. I am in a good place and I am thankful. Will I do better next time? I hope so. I hope that I will remember how dismal it is to struggle alone, and remember what peace can come when I instead struggle with Jesus by my side.