Love Like a Mother
When a baby cries, it's because it has a need. Thousands of times throughout infanthood, a mother will pick up her child and comfort him. She'll rock and hush him until he feels safe and loved.
This is the visual the speaker gave us in a conference I watched recently. It's also the visual I can't get out of my mind. (My kiddos helped me recreate the visual from 18-years-ago.)
The visual represents a new idea that I also haven't been able to get out of my mind. And that's this: Anytime anyone acts out, it's because they have a need that's not being met.
We won't always have our mothers there to rock and hush us, but hopefully they've taught us to find healthy ways to meet our own needs. For example, we plan ahead for meals so that we don't get hangry, and we go to bed at a decent time so we don't fall asleep at work or while driving.
When these basic needs aren't met, we don't function well. But it doesn't stop at physical needs. We have emotional needs, too.
When people don't feel loved by their spouse, they might have an affair. When people are hurting from loss, they might try to numb that pain with alcohol or drugs. When people feel treated unfairly, they might seek revenge out of a need for justice.
This idea sounds so simple, but it's complicated by how we perceive our needs.
The speaker explained that there are three parts of the brain. The first part determines if we are safe. The second part determines if we are loved. If we feel both safe and loved, then we can get to rational thought. This is great for fight-or-flight, but what if we get stuck in that place of survival?
When we go through trauma, the first part of our brain that determines if we are safe might not be working correctly. Compare it to a smoke detector that goes off with the same response for both frying bacon and a house fire. You might react like your house is burning down, when really someone is just cooking you breakfast in bed.
I experienced this when my windshield got hit and shattered by a goose. After that, whenever a bird would fly my direction while I was driving, I would scream, close my eyes, and let go of the steering wheel. I didn't make a rational choice to scream, close my eyes, and let go of the steering wheel. It just happened. And it was a little embarrassing when I was trying to teach my daughter how to drive.
We aren't stupid. Our fears come from legitimate experiences. I really was hit by a goose. But if I continue to react like that whenever I'm behind the wheel, I will be endangering myself and others.
So what do I do? Who is there to calm my fears and help me overcome the irrational ones? Where do I find comfort?
There's only one answer. God. He's that parent who wants to meet our needs in a healthy way before we act out/sin. We won't have an affair if we feel loved by him. We won't have to numb our pain if God heals it. We won't have to see revenge if we allow God to be our avenger. When we feel in danger, He will either lead us through the valley of darkness, or He will comfort our soul.
I'll give one more example from the conference I watched. The speaker said that when her son moved up into a certain class at church, he really didn't want to go, and he started wetting his pants every week so she'd have to take him out of class. She was really frustrated, and after about the 4th time it happened, she asked, "What's going on, buddy? Why do we keep doing this?" He responded that he didn't want to wash his hands with the teacher's soap because it smelled like blueberries, and it made him feel sick. So rather than going to the bathroom, he'd wet his pants to avoid smelling like blueberry soap. After the mom figured this out, she was able to explain his sensitive nose to the teacher and start bringing his own soap with him.
He acted out because he was a survivor. He was doing what he thought he had to do to meet his own need.
We're survivors too. And if we think we have to solve our problems on our own, we're going to miss out on the solutions God has prepared.
Confidence in God's solutions are the peace that passes all understanding. It's trusting God with all our hearts and leaning not on our own understanding. It's why the Bible says that anything not done in faith is a sin.
The more we call on God and have our needs met, the more trust we will build in His abilities and His love. Just like a momma rocking her baby.
This is the hope that my momma taught me, I pray I've taught my kids, and what I want to share with the world.
Happy belated Mother's Day!!!