It's funny how much you learn because of your kids. Big stuff like unconditional love and little stuff like the best way to get crayon off of walls (Magic Eraser). I changed a lot when I had Xander. And again, and more so, when I had the twins. I'm still me - still sarcastic and stubborn - but I listen more and fret less. And really - this isn't the kids' doing. They are instruments that God is using to teach me things. I just hear Him more clearly through them, sometimes.
Like today. Quick backdrop: the house has been a perpetual mess for a few days. I'm not sure if it's more than usual, or if the cold setting in is already making me remember being stir-crazy and I'm noticing the mess more. Regardless, my mindset is that I'm living in squalor, despite making efforts to clean even more than normal. Lucas isn't coming home until very late tonight. I made the kids' dinner then let them eat it in the living room while I cleaned the kitchen for the 3rd time today (earlier I made cookies from scratch for small group tonight so the kitchen has stayed dirty too). I came back in the living room to get them in the bathtub and found a giant mess. my fault for letting them eat in there, but still. One more thing to clean. So basically - I'm tired.
But all of the kids were playing nicely in Xander's room for the moment, so I decided to sit down and look at a blog post I had clicked on earlier but never got a chance to read. It was about adoption and foster care and I have always had a soft spot for those subjects. So I was crying while reading it when suddenly Paxton bursts into the room laughing. I looked up and smiled at him through my tears, but he stopped in his tracks. He walked to me, climbed up on the couch, and laid his head on me. He looked up at me with his big bottom lip stuck way out and tears in his eyes. I told him everything was okay, but he stayed right by me for a good while. He just looked at me and put his little hand on my leg and sat there. Just sat there.
Isn't that amazing? Isn't that what we should do sometimes? Instead of trying to fix or offer solutions or even empathizing - which are all good things - maybe sometimes we should just sit beside someone. Cry with them. Say "I'm sad that you're sad." Just be there. You don't always have to know what to say. It's okay if you haven't experienced the same thing. Just be there. (Bonus points if you stick your bottom lip out.)
Since then I've gotten 2 other reminders to just "be there." And one was from a totally fictional detective book I've been reading. I don't know why I need this lesson, but apparently I'm supposed to hear it. I'm thankful that God "speaks" to me in these ways. If I had to learn things from Him only in church on Sunday mornings or in the middle of the deepest holiest prayer ever uttered, well, I wouldn't learn nearly as much.