The first time I realized my daughter was completely disappointed in me was at the doctor's office when she was about 6-months old. I sat Avery up on my lap and she cooed as the nurse measured the circumference of her head. She giggled and laughed as her belly was pressed and her legs were manipulated to make sure everything was working right. The nurse spoke in a sweet melody that worked its magic like the pied piper. Even I smiled.
In the next second Avery's little arms and legs were held down by expert arms and syringes pierced the skin in both of her thighs. Her eyes widened in shock and stared right at me for a terrifying full second before she erupted in screams and tears.
How could you, mommy? I heard through her wails. I trusted you and you just sat there while they hurt me! How could you allow this to happen to me? Don't you love me?!
As soon as the band-aids were on I picked her up and rocked her. Shhh! Shhh! Shhh! I whispered. Oh, baby, I'm so sorry... but it was for your own good. Trust me.
Just like many mommies, I felt absolutely horrible. Avery was just a baby; she didn't have the means to comprehend why that pain was necessary. Her understanding was so immature. There was no way I could explain the reasons why a vaccination was needed to keep her healthier in the long run. All she knew was that one minute her mommy was holding her, smiling and laughing, and the next minute she was hurting. And her mommy allowed this hurt to happen.
When my son, Brody, was born several years later, he would require physical therapy. It wasn't fun for him or us. It broke my heart to have to twist and stretch his body... but he needed it if he was to stand any chance of normal development. Ignoring the issue would result in greater physical issues that might require surgeries to fix. Or, if left too long, might not ever be fixed.
He was so little. We couldn't explain to him what was going on. We couldn't explain that the pains and discomforts he felt by our hands were actually to heal him. He had to trust us, which he didn't do.
Instead, he chose to flinch when someone picked him up. He saw mommy and daddy coming and he knew there would be pain involved. Sometimes I wonder if the reason he's not a cuddler is because there is a small part of him that, while he knows we love him, he just doesn't totally trust us.
Avery, however, would come to be the best little patient ever and trust whatever needed to be done. There was a period in her life when she required countless blood draws to determine what was causing her white blood cells to drop so dangerously low. She still hated needles, but she was older, had more understanding of the world. We were able to explain that our blood is like a recipe that had to be measured just right in order for it to work properly. By taking the blood, doctors could look inside and see if there was too much salt or not enough sugar and what was making her so sick. When they found what ingredient had been measured wrong they would then be able to fix it.
She was such a trooper going through those battery of tests. At one point a nurse asked her if she didn't feel anything when the needles were poking her because she never cried, never whined, never complained. Avery answered, "It actually hurts a lot, but I trust my mom."
I was thinking about all this the other day: how parenting includes not just simply loving our children - that would be so easy; but also allowing hurt for their own good. How we are capable of seeing the Big Picture, even though they can't. And how we ask them to trust us over and over again. How often do we find ourselves saying, "you're too young to understand, but some day you'll thank me."
I think that's what our relationship with God is like. Our brains are so immature to the ways of eternity and heaven. Even when God speaks we don't always understand. And sometimes He takes us through something where all we feel is pain and we're so confused as to why He allowed that pain to happen in our lives, and we aren't capable of seeing how that hurt is needed for the greater good of our souls.
I sometimes hate how much sorrow fills my heart. I sometimes get frustrated and angry that there are moments when it is utterly impossible for me to take a breath because my grief is too huge. I want Avery back with me and I want her back now. And, yes, yes, there are moments when I cry out to God, how could you do this to me? Don't you love me?!
And you know what? After every single time I ask, I feel His arms wrap around me in the form of compassionate family and friends and even strangers I have never met ... Shhh! Shhh! Shhh, child. Trust me. I feel His love, yet I do not understand His reasoning.
I have a choice: to respond like Brody did and distance myself. Run away. Flinch when I hear His name.
Or, I can choose to respond like Avery: acknowledge that this hurts more than anything I've ever felt in this world, but continue to trust my God. Know that somehow, beyond my earthly comprehension, there is a plan so great that this pain is needed for the greater good of my soul. And the souls of so many others.