17 March 2020

"I'm Sad, God."

I've been teaching my toddler a different way of responding to his emotions lately. 

I tell him to just say, "I'm sad, Mama."

"Then," I say, "When you tell me, I will hold you and hug you and tell you that I understand that you feel sad right now, and this is a sad thing. You can feel sad for now, but it won't last forever. You'll feel better again and we'll get through this sadness together, and later we will feel happy again."

I started this as a way of teaching him how to handle disappointment in a way other than screaming, throwing toys, and general aggressive behaviors of toddlers who have big feelings and who don't yet know what to do with those feelings. My intent is for him to learn to communicate when he is sad and to comfort him in disappointment even when those disappointments are very necessary to his life.

We're not all the way there yet, but it's starting to click. We're seeing fruit as this idea begins to take hold in his mind and instead of screaming when he doesn't get his way, he might say, "Sad, Mama" and come to me. When he does, just as I promised him I would, I take him into my arms and reassure him that I understand that he feels sad, and that we'll get through this sadness together, and he won't always be this sad.

Because he's two, things that make him sad might be being told he can't have milk right now, or that he's not allowed to sit on his brother, or that Papa has to go to work. I'm trying to build in him the idea that he doesn't have to respond to sadness with actions that are unkind to others and cause hurt and unpleasantness. Instead, he can communicate how he feels calmly, and he can trust that I will always meet him right there.

I've been noticing in my own self, as the world has seemingly slid into chaos, a lack of patience. A lack of others-focused thinking. Snappy responses. My actions have started to look alarmingly like the adult version of screaming, throwing toys on the floor, and pushing people out of my way.

And that's when I realized.

I'm sad.

I'm sad about small things like canceled date nights and canceled vacations and not getting to go shopping.

I'm sad about medium things like canceled events that people worked hard to plan and prepare for for months.

I'm sad about big things like disease and death and people not having easy access to food and basic necessities and about businesses and livelihoods and economies being crushed by the impact of this season.

I'm sad.

But I need a different response mechanism. Not snarky comments or misery-competitions, Not lack of patience and excessive selfish behaviors and lashing out at others. I need to refuse to throw an adult-sized toddler tantrum and realize what the real problem is: I feel sad.

I need to do what I tell my toddler to do and say: "I'm sad, God."

And to trust that He will hold me while I'm sad. That my sadness won't shock Him, that He will say, "I understand you feel sad right now. This is a sad thing, and I'm not going to leave you alone while you feel so sad. But this isn't going to last forever."


Revelation 21:4
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”


If you're new here, thank you for visiting my site and and hope you find encouragement in this contemplation of our response to sadness. For both new and old visitors, I am more active these days on Instagram and Youtube as Seven in All. Please feel free to follow our family's journey there!

Anonymous said...

Love this. Really.

LP (formerly CA, now AZ)

Michelle said...

This brought tears to my eyes. I have been so sad today. Sad that my dad works in healthcare and will likely be exposed, meaning my mom won’t be able to come when I have the baby. Sad that I still don’t know what to do with Gracie now when I’m in labor. Sad that the baby keeps threatening to come a month early. Sad that my Bible Study is cancelled until fall. Sad that I actually have to worry about how to find groceries and toilet paper. Just discouraged and sad. This was a good reminder.

Callie said...

What a perfect post for this season, Rachel! Love this.

AnneMarie said...

This is a beautiful reflection, Rachel! Thank you.

Kristin said...

It's true. I'm constantly catching myself, knowing I should be going to God first and not trying to figure everything out on my own. It's impossible when it's one big "what if".

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Unknown said...

I really like this. Very informed and a little different than what we grew up with, in a good way. I always thought I would have kids really young..I think we all did! But it's been so helpful and encouraging, and honestly very scary at times to be able to see you become a mom first. Thank you for being so transparent and sharing your life, the good and the painful - for going first and giving me the ability to learn from you. Love you.

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