My 8 yr. old son stomped into the house and handed me a red rose cut from the neighbor's yard. As he handed it to me he said, "I love you, Mommy." After I thanked him, I promptly asked if he'd received permission to cut that rose! :) (And, yes, he did ~ whew.) Then as quickly as he barged through the door, he left to go back outside.
Of course getting a rose from a son would warm any mother's heart, but mine was extraordinarily warm.
You see, to me this wasn't just any rose. It was a symbol of what I call my son's "breakthrough" year. Sounds a bit cheesy, but it's true.
Oh, this child.
Where do I start? It is pretty difficult to sum up 8 years of life into one post. (My eyes are starting to tear up a little.) I guess one word to sum it up would be STRONG-WILLED, but I just don't think that gives a clear enough picture. Yes, very strong-willed but so much more than that.
As a toddler, this blue-eyed, strawberry-headed blessing would tell me flat out that he had ANGER in his little heart. Before our morning devotions he would tell me that he hated God. He refused to receive the love that his precious, older brother wished so much to bestow upon him. He didn't really want to have anything to do with Daddy, either. Being such a VERBAL, say-whatever-comes-to-mind type of kid, he could really be kinda mean sometimes.
As a parent, I was definitely confused, stressed, sad . . . and so on. In between his strong-willedness he was over-the-top cute, funny and loved to have his mama cuddles. I was completely in love with my "Only Sunshine" but was also completely worn out.
Thank goodness he was a very well behaved child everywhere else. It was at home where his fleshly heart would let loose. I kept thinking, "As soon as the terrible 2 (and 3s) stage is over everything will be just fine."
Three came. Then four. Five. Oh, this child! Six and seven were a struggle, too.
Mind you, the problem wasn't constant, out-of-control, willful disobedience. I didn't need Super Nanny to save the day. Being consistent and firm with discipline wasn't one of my weaknesses, but it was draining me.
When there weren't any "issues" to address, he was just an overall not very happy child. It was normal for every little thing to bother him or make him angry. And for some reason, I felt that he was more like this when he was around his brother, which was 99% of the time. It was like he was born hating being the second child. My heart would just ache when I'd see glimpses of joy and that bubbly little personality trying to break through, but the dark cloud would always return.
I knew in my heart that an intense spiritual battle was raging within my very young son. It was strange to know that. But I knew it was true. Satan was not going to win, I knew that, too (mostly), but I didn't know how long this particular battle was going to last. I was committed to fighting for my child and raising him up in the way he should go no matter how tough it got, no matter how exasperated I became.
It was hard. There were days when I was tempted to drive him to the school in our neighborhood and be done with it. He could be off at school while I peacefully home schooled my other 2. I would always feel God whispering very quietly that he was right where he needed to be~that the battle would be won right on the home front. Sending him away for a few hours wasn't going to solve his (our) problems.
Even when my son had learned that obedience in this family wasn't optional, I could tell mostly that his obedience was due to the fact that he didn't want to suffer consequences. He would obey on the outside, but it was super clear that on the inside defiance reigned. We had many talks about how I, as his mom, could only help change the outside, but never the inside. I could do my God-given part, but I couldn't change his heart and make it love. That was strictly between him and God.
This year, this blessed year, a change from deep within this child's heart began to unfold right before my very eyes. It was like watching a caterpillar morph into a butterfly in slow motion. The cloud was slowly disappearing revealing a soft, sweet spirit and a heart yearning to love. I witnessed true humility and repentance in my son. Truly a beautiful and longed-for gift!! He told me one night that life was so much better without anger in his heart. Praise God!
Our relationship is so much better and phrases such as "I'm sorry" and "Will you forgive me?" grace his speech.
God has taught me so much through this trial. So much about myself. About my own relationship to my Heavenly Father. My second born is a lot like me in personality, and my hubby would often tell me, "Now you know what it's like to be married to you!" Ah well, I guess I still have a lot to learn, too. :)
I love you and LIKE you my dear son. Looking forward to what the next year brings!!! I hope you don't mind me sharing. I hope our story can encourage others who may be going through the same thing. THANK YOU again, for my beautiful, red rose.