You know the day is starting poorly when (after very little sleep) you find yourself googling “define petulant” while the sun is still streaking the sky peach outside your window. You know petulant is the exact right word for the behavior you’re facing off with. (Petulant: irritable, impatient, or sullen in a peevish or capricious way; a person or behavior that is irritable in a childish way.)
No I wasn’t babysitting a toddler.
And my teenager was actually without peevish or capricious behavior.
It’s 3:27 p.m. now, and I’m typing because I’m awestruck by how the Lord dealt with such an attitude in someone you’d think (now that she is FIFTY after all) would have outgrown such behaviors. My peevish and capricious ways have been building for days. After throwing down the gauntlet before God (never a bright thing to do) my irritable, impatient, and sullen behavior increased with the certainty that I wasn’t getting my way.
Here’s our the Lord dealt with this petulant child of His:
- He didn’t give her what she begged for. No way. No how. No amount of stomping her feet, threatening things she wouldn’t really do, accusing, or whining changed His mind. Without raising His Voice or growing emotional He simply stood His ground.
- He put loving boundaries about her and allowed her push against them. (A little pushing builds muscle, after all.) Any spot she pushed was immovable, yet soft, sinking so as not to injure her threshing limbs, but springing back like memory foam. Knowing she was hemmed in frustrated her. But the fact that love hemmed her in kept her from pushing longer than she needed to push.
- He let her cry it out, never once leaving her to sob in isolation. He gave her warm, safe arms to cry in. Soft voices to console her. And He showered her with the whispered prayers of friends.
- He waited until she was spent and ready to listen before He reasoned with her. Then He gently explained Himself and why she couldn’t have what she had asked for. He helped her understand He wants only the best for her, and that her way was a quick fix to a deep problem. He helped her understand how NOT getting her way was actually a stepping stone to increased freedom for the future.
- When the anger melted into weakness He reminded her of His complete, unconditional acceptance of her at any state, saying, “Your weakness does not repel me. On the contrary, it attracts My Power, which is always available to flow into a yielded heart. Do not condemn yourself for your constant need of help. Instead, come to Me with your gaping neediness; let the light of My Love fill you.” (Jesus Calling, November 2)
It amazes me how gentle and loving my Father is. I’ve never once had an unkind word from Him. (There were days I thought I had, but I eventually learned there is a voice that masquerades as HIS. This is the voice of one called “accuser” and “deceiver” and “that old snake” It is not HIS precious Voice.)
I’ve never once experienced my Father reacting to me with disdain, condemnation, or even surprise (whether I’m being very very good or very very horrid). He accepts me unconditionally. Loves me on good days and bad.
And . . . remains immovable, set on His course, and changing me from the inside out.
May you know His Love my friend, may you truly experience how unconditional and unchanging it is–always and forever, even if you are given to petulance now and then.
Until Next Time,
(Hoping Next Time is sooner than it has been lately. I *think* I’m about ready to come back . . .)
PS. There’s actually another. Consider this one a freebie. # 6. He chuckled. Not laughing AT her exactly, but chuckling that little parent chuckle that says He thinks she’s kind-a cute when she’s all worked up. (Husbands have this kind of laugh too. Actually my young adult sons use it with me on occasion, too. Come to think of it Jerry and Sam did this yesterday. Twice.)