Saturday, February 11, 2012
David, a little boy that comes to my art class has taught me a lot about tantrums. He loves coming to my class, not so much for the art, but for the toys, and for the other children. He especially loves the wooden train. He laughs aloud as he plays and seems to experience pure joy. When the time comes to leave, his joy seems prematurely and arbitrarily severed. He doesn't understand. Sometimes he collapses to the ground, and sometimes he clings to the toys. He wails and moans. His tears and snot flow freely. When I watch him I am sure he believes that he will never be back, that he will never see his train again, and that there is no reason to leave. Of course his wise mother knows better and tries to soothe him. She says calmly "I know you love your train," "It is time to go, but we will come back another day," "This is really sad, but it will be okay." Eventually, David submits to his mother, sometimes by persuasion, sometimes by bribery, sometimes by gentle force.
I thought about David as I threw my own tantrum, as I wailed and moaned and wallowed in my grief. I cursed the seemingly arbitrary nature of life. I felt myself perpetuating the emotion as if to prove to my Heavenly Father how upset I was. I pounded on the bed, I clung to Jonah's blanket, and wept bitterly pleading for God to somehow change the laws of nature, to reverse what has been done, or to at least give me instant and perfect understanding. And yet I knew those demands were irrational. In the aftermath of my breakdown, surrounded by crumpled tissues, I began watching videos of Jonah. I don't do this often, because it is painful. As I watched my boy, and sat with my heartbreak, I felt the intensity of the moment gradually distill into peace. I thought about what a gift Jonah was to me. I could imagine my wise Heavenly Father speaking to me, like David's mother, saying "I know you love your boy." "It was time for him to go, but you will be together again." "This is really sad, but it will be okay." Gradually my heart softened, I accepted my sadness, and I fell asleep.
I am still trying to make sense of the difficult things that happen in life. I am trying to understand why this has happened to my beautiful son and my family. But even as I question, I believe that God is a loving parent. I believe that he sees the big picture. He knows the end and the beginning. Those things that seem arbitrary and unfair in my eyes, have purpose in His. When the tantrums pass, and I return to myself, I find incredible peace in submitting my narrow perspective and stubborn will to His, because He is a kind and wise and loving parent.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.