Be the Constant

The screaming reached a pitch only recognizable to neighborhood dogs. Any moment, I was sure a DCFS worker would come pounding on my door. A strange banging noise rang out from my daughter’s room. What had sent my three-year-old into this rage? I no longer remember the particular thing that did it this time, however I can tell you it was probably something as simple as telling her to get ready for nap time. Or go brush her teeth. Or just a little two-letter word—NO. Anything that was contrary to her plan for the moment could have done it. To make matters worse, Daddy was away on Air Force Chaplaincy orders for the summer, so that meant her usual expectations for life had been disrupted. A dear friend of mine had come over that morning for a walk, get me out of the house for a breath of fresh air, when this tantrum took place. I sent my little urchin to her room to think about having a happy heart when the screaming and banging commenced. It did not sound like hearts were getting happy. All of a sudden a certain panic overcame the screaming, and a little, “Help me!” came from her room. My friend was first on her feet and in my daughter’s room to find Michaela had pulled a dresser over and was holding it up by her feet.
A few thoughts went through my mind at that moment simultaneously: Wow, my daughter is unbelievably strong. Wow, thank you God for not letting it crush her. BAH, I KNEW WE SHOULD HAVE ANCHORED THAT DRESSER TO THE WALL!! I yanked the dresser up, and grabbed Michaela to give her lots of snuggles and hugs. My shaky breath began to return to normal. Uh, is this what everyone’s three-year-old tantrums look like?
I wish I could tell you after that the rest of the summer was a breeze. That she had gotten out her uglies, and we finished Operation Survive Without Daddy just fine. However, that would be a lie. Some days were lovely. Sometimes Michaela was so well-behaved it made me doubt that the tantrums had ever happened. Then, the Rage Monster came for another visit. In these moments, I looked at myself for fault. What in the world was I doing wrong? Why couldn’t I get my daughter’s behavior under control? How come other moms seem to have an eternal supply house of patience and love when I feel like any minute MY Rage Monster would explode on her? I started to beat myself up pretty badly.
Then I was reminded of algebra. Now, you should know I vehemently hate math. (Ironically enough, I was nominated class treasurer in high school. It’s a wonder we made it to our senior trip with a dollar to our name). So, there I was sitting there beating myself up about my daughter’s poor behavior when high school algebra was brought to mind. I don’t remember much of what Mr. Walker taught us, however I do remember this:
A constant is a fixed number or value. It is a number that you are sure of.
A variable is a symbol for a number we don’t know yet.
I heard a Still, Small Voice whisper to me, “Amanda, be the constant.” In this real life equation I am the constant. My daughter is the variable. I am the fixed value. She is what we don’t know yet, what’s still in motion, still becoming who she’s made to be.
The dictionary describes variable as being “inconstant, fickle, or having much variation or diversity.” One other time in my life God has brought the constant and variable to mind. I was on a train. Listening to some praise and worship music, pouring my heart out to God in my prayer journal. It was not that long after I’d had my miscarriage, and I was struggling. I felt like God had left me all alone. I was begging Him to please just talk to me! Please, let me know You haven’t forgotten me! And then, He said it to me. “Amanda, I Am the constant. You are the variable, my child. I do not change. Never have, never will. I am some One you may be sure of. It is you, my daughter, that has been the variable. While I have stayed the same, dear, you have wandered from my voice. Come back into communion with me.” And with that, I rested in the arms of my Jesus once again.
Pastor Ritch Boerckel of Bethany Baptist Church in Edwards, Illinois, reminded parents one Sunday morning that we are often a child’s first picture, first example of Jesus. Think about that for a second. Our little ones’ first impressions of Jesus come from how we portray Him. That’s why I encourage you to be the constant. Be the faithful one in the equation between you and your child. Even when your kid is acting completely horrid, remain firm and steady, unchanging. This is how they will come to know you and what to expect from you. Trust is developed. And ultimately, this is how we can point their hearts to Jesus.
How have you been the constant in your child’s life?