Saturday, March 28, 2015

"Sad" Is Not "Bad" (Pastor Mom Devotion #3)

Earlier this week, the Teacher got very upset in the evening and screamed and cried inconsolably. Nothing would calm her down. So, after trying everything we could think of, I just rocked her and, after what seemed a long time, but I'm sure was less than half an hour, she fell asleep. She dozed for maybe five minutes, then opened her eyes, and smiled like everything was just wonderful!

She's been similarly cranky every night this week. Best we can tell, she's just getting overtired and then has a hard time settling down. It's not fun for us being unable to calm her, but thinking about it, I remember: a few times during my academic career, there were some short periods of time when I stayed up all night or almost all night working and became miserably sleep-deprived--much worse than what I've experienced as a parent of a newborn--and at the end of each of those stints, when the papers had been sent in, the exams completed, etc., I couldn't immediately go to sleep. First I needed a good hard cry. And if someone had been there and tried to stop me from sobbing and weeping, I would not have appreciated it at all.

Since the Teacher's lessons do not yet come in verbal form, I'm not certain I've comprehended correctly, but I think she's teaching me that I shouldn't expect to prevent her from suffering. Of course, I will try to save her unnecessary, pointless suffering, but no one's life will ever be pain-free. 

Actually, this is something my mother talked about when I was a kid. There was a PBS program called Lamb Chop's Play-Along whose theme song had a verse that talked about living by the rule that "sad is bad and happy is cool." And I remember my mother commenting something like, "I don't live by that rule. It isn't bad to feel sad; it's just a part of life." 

This week's prayer: Dear God, please help me to recognize when it's best simply to accept that life comes with some unhappiness and suffering. May I become less anxious and let go of the need for control when it becomes apparent I've already done as much as I can/should to relieve someone's pain. Amen. 

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