While sitting at my table at the coffee shop over the sound of the music coming through my headphones I heard a loud cry. I looked around the shop and saw a two year old boy on the ground in complete hysterics. He was kicking and screaming and yelling and had no care for those who could witness his breakdown. He seemingly did not mind that his emotional outburst interrupted the otherwise quiet of the shop. Although he did catch my attention, what held my attention was his mom. She walked calmly. She let him know that she saw him. She would touch him kindly as she was gathering her things. She did not act annoyed or frustrated. Nor was she in a frenzy to make the situation better for her son. She acted as though she knew he just needed to work some things out.
As they prepared to leave the store, there was no yelling, no harsh grabbing, no embarrassment. She simply walked towards the door, inviting him to come. He was angry, but got up to his feet slowly and made is way to the door, yelling and crying the entire length of the coffee shop. At the door his mom grabbed his hand and held it all the way to the car.
Her kindness was inspiring. She created safety not only for her self, but also for those of us who witnessed the event. Her ease with her son, brought ease to the entire room. It was as if we were each invited into the moment with the two of them. I felt safe and loved and though he probably didn’t realize it, he too was being shaped by her response to his tantrum.
Unfortunately, most of us are shamed when we throw tantrums. Some of us shame others for their overwhelming emotions. We think things like, “why can’t they just pull it together?” “won’t someone please stop them?” “it’s been long enough, it’s time to move on people!” We not only think these things in regards to those around us, but most of us think these things in regards to ourselves. We shame ourselves for feeling more than our hearts and minds know what to do with. We shame ourselves for not solely feeling comfortable and pleasant emotions.
Lately, I’ve been feeling a lot of emotion. It seems to burst out of me at the most inopportune times and in the most inopportune ways. I am tired of it. But I have made a conscious choice this go around. I have made a choice to feel this one out. I have decided to surrender to the emotion and feel every last drop. I have made the choice to grieve, yell, kick and wrestle. I have made the choice to make a scene and live in congruence with the mess of my heart and soul and body as they wrestle out all that I’ve been feeling and experiencing.
In my feeling and tantrum throwing I have come to know well the love of my Father, for whom my emotion is never too much.
He is the one for whom all of our tantrums are welcome, and like the mother this morning, our Heavenly Father loves us with kindness during our tantrums. He does not shame us for making a scene. He does not try to hush us up. He does not seek to silence our cries. He does not worry about our kicking and screaming and fighting. He does not pause to think of what others might be thinking in response to him as a loving parent. He does not get annoyed by our emotion and He most definitely does not grow angry with us for the emotion we hold.
God is patient, loving and kind. He knows, like this mother, that sometimes we just need to feel things through. We need to work through the emotion and trust him enough to hold his hand to guide us in the midst of our yelling, screaming and fighting.
God is a God for whom emotion is welcome. All of it. All of the time. He is not like us, He does not grow weary hearing our groans day after day.
I love that I was given the gift of witnessing this mother and child. It is a grace for my day and it is a reminder of God’s profound capacity to receive me, where I am, all that I am, mess, emotion, and everything in between.
May you know well the loving presence of your Heavenly Father in whatever season, with whatever emotion, expressed however it comes. His presence in the tantrum will be the hand that will guide you through it.