Marshall flopped on the floor of the psychologist’s office, playing with one of those sensory pin toys that make the shape of your hand. He was explaining to her why he hates people: “They have destroyed so many animal habitats.” She nodded—she loves animals, too—and asked, “Is there any one you don’t hate?”
Marshall then climbed up into my lap, all 83 pounds, 4 and a half feet and I gave him a long hug. I was the Good Mama.
But at the end of the session, he accidentally hit his head on the side of the door. Then he came back into the room and hit me, with threats quoted directly from the older girl who bullied him.
I try to stay half in denial about Marshall’s new self, affected by trauma. The other half of me, at least, has to enter his world and see what he sees. And occasionally kick a demon out.
This is the Mama-Jesus-Task—walking scary roads together, never abandoning, always beckoning.
The Reign of God Starts with our Parenting
Jesus said John the Baptist was “the Elijah who was to come” (Matt. 11:14). The second Elijah, John, was to “turn the hearts of the parents to their children” (Mal. 4:5,6; Luke 1:17).
Repentance and the reign of God is at least partly about children, in their worst moments, the times we most want to turn away or to threaten to withdraw our love. To really repent is to love our children with open hearts even when we’re in pain, and to stop the control-through-fear, the manipulation, the verbal or physical abuse. It’s to choose to see from our children’s perspective.
I’ve never heard a sermon on this verse, yet if John was the greatest human in history (Matt. 11:11), in Jesus’ estimation, then we need to listen. I need to listen.
There are so many components to love, like a big Lego heart. The funny thing is, I’m not aware of having learned love from God, like the part of love that sees from the other person’s perspective.
Yet I believe Mother God sees life through my eyes; I think Mother God understands me. This is where I feel safe. If I thought Mother God would only argue with me about anything I said, I would never speak.
Arguing is the easy place to parent from. I have nearly reduced my interactions with Marshall to asking him to get off the computer so he can interact with us. He almost always say, “No.” The computer is now his friend, his safe place. I see it as an enemy.
The only thing that will put the pieces of our lives together is love, which will mean going deeper and deeper into his world and helping him sort it out together. That means I quit trying to control him and see what is important to him and why.
The Perspective of Grace
Yesterday, Joel had a moment of grace for Marshall, one I usually don’t. Marshall has taken to walking away from the house lately when he feels rejected. He and Joel were both in bare feet. Joel followed him down the street and said, “Can I come with you?”
Marshall looked back gratefully and said, “Yes,” and then began to tell Joel what a bad parent he was.
But by the time I saw them, outside, they were walking together toward home, smiling, side by side.
This is the metaphor for our parenting of our wounded Asper-boy. Don’t try to get him to change; go with him into his own choices and back out again. It is the safety of unconditional love that changes us.
This is also a metaphor for Mother God’s parenting. She doesn’t shout stern commands to come home; she follows us where we choose.
She never leaves no matter where we choose to go—the office, the pub, the bus stop or the Internet. And she loves us unrelentingly, loves us all the way home.