We were in the doctor's office for the 4-year-old check-up. The actual room was no bigger than a walk-in closet and it felt more like a cubby for a rambunctious boy that simply can't stand being still or contained. I admit - even I felt the walls were closing in on us. The doctor finally came in, and not a moment too soon, but the more I tried to talk with the pediatrician about the health and well-being of my child, the louder said child became.
Of course he would be putting me to the test right here, right now.
I had to find the balance in my tone so the observing pediatrician would know I was firm and stern yet loving and caring. I felt like I was the one being examined.
"E, two people are talking," I politely said, hoping he'd remember the manners we've worked so hard on.
The dull noise of a preschooler talking grew to an attention-getting volume that was much too loud for the tiny little examination room.
"ELIJAH. Inside voice, please," I said sternly, flashing the "I'm-serious-you're-about-to-be-in-trouble" eyes.
And in response, with direct disobedience, he now escalated to a full blown shout as if to prove to this doctor his vocal chords were in perfect working order.
"ENOUGH!" I now found myself matching his volume as I shouted.
The ever-patient and mild-mannered doctor sat observing. I just knew I wasn't going to pass the parenting test if one was being given out today.
She kindly cut in and diverted his attention to a book that was his gift to take home. He instantly stopped yelling as he started browsing the pages. Of course. Why didn't I think of that - a diversion.
A few minutes and some more conversation had passed when she calmly looked at me and said, "You know, one thing I wish I had done more with my youngest - who was my most challenging - was just relax."
HUH? Oh... I see. We weren't talking about a challenging child. We were talking about a high-strung mother.
Relax. To make less tense, less rigid, less firm; to make less strict or severe. Certainly I couldn't just allow my unruly child to just scream his head off in the middle of a public place. How was I supposed to relax related to that situation?!
But the truth was the doctor was prescribing exactly what I needed to fix what ails me. He's 4. He's a kid. He's a boy. He's got a lot of energy. Remarkably, despite not having my DNA, he likens my personality in so many ways. And his own inability to "relax" is probably mirroring mine. So I was forced to look in the mirror, only this time it was into the face of an adorable 4 year old and recognize that if I could relax, maybe he could too.
I wonder if you could stand to "just relax" with me today. I know the woes of the world and the concerns of today can weigh us down to the point of being so high strung and wound so tightly that relaxing may seem impossible. The deeply hidden spiritual meaning here is that we all need to rest in His presence and replenish our souls with His strength, especially when we're uptight and stressed.
If you find yourself confined, walls closing in on you, frustrated to gain attention, screaming to get someone's attention, might I offer a little prescriptive advice? Just relax....
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.”
“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”
Isaiah 40:28- 31
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”