I have one child who had an unexplained aversion to Target from about the age of six months to three years. In order to protect her privacy and dignity we will change her name to Lucy. Each and every time I would approach the front doors of Target, I would begin to sense the storm brewing within her. It's as if the red carts in the parking lot immediately tipped her off and she began to wind up. I don't know if it was the florescent lights, the fabulous dollar spot or the overuse of the color red but that store made her absolutely angry. She would begin to arch her back in her car seat and once she could sit up, Lucy would stiffen as straight as a board and I could not put her in the seat on the top of the cart. I would start out tickling her tummy to trick her into bending with no success, then I would zrrrbrt her belly to appear even sillier even though I was now sweating and nervously looking around. No dice. Somehow, I would fold her up just enough to buckle her into the seat and off we would go in search of everything on our list. The wailing was relentless. Every mom knows what I'm talking about. Sadly, this was before Amazon Prime so I couldn't just ship my sundries to myself in the privacy and peace of my own home.
The only thing that made these trips more bearable were those moms or grandmas who would spot me in an aisle and quickly make eye contact with me and smile or nod. Like, "I got you, girl. You can do this. I understand." There's a comradery out there among the mamas - because no matter our economic status, race or religion, there are common experiences. Life just doesn't let anyone off the hook, does it? You can have all the money in the world but if your kid doesn't want to try on that velcro princess tennis shoe, she will ball her foot up so tight, you're just not getting it on, I don't care how hard you try.
Maybe you're not a toddler mama anymore. Maybe you're the mom who just dropped your first kid off at college and you're making your way from the dorm room to the parking lot with a now empty car and very heavy heart. Or you're the husband who sits in the waiting room at the imaging center while your wife goes back for the second or third mammogram because they're just not sure they're getting a clear picture of what's wrong. I promise you, if you look around, there's someone who's been there done that. And if that person isn't in the dorm elevator with you or across the waiting room from you, He's at the ready waiting for your prayer.
It might seem silly to think Jesus identifies with everything we go through. No, He was not a father to screaming toddlers but His disciples weren't much better at times. He had hot headed Peter who could put his foot in his mouth faster than a toddler can throw a princess shoe. Jesus didn't leave a kid at college but He had to leave His dear cousin,the very one who baptized him, in prison, knowing John's head would soon be served up on a platter. Jesus had no wife, but he wept over the death of a good friend. He looked into the eyes of Lazarus' good friends who felt like not enough was done to help, they felt let down and disregarded.
How about betrayal? The nervous smile and quick kiss from a supposed friend that turns out to be the kiss of death. Betrayal burns in our hearts the most and takes us the longest to forgive. We've all had a friend or family member practice deceit. Jesus catches our eye and nods because He's been there, too. Judas sold him into the hands of those who'd nail him to the cross for a mere 30 pieces of silver.
Hebrews 4:15 reminds us, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." I used to focus on the fact that Jesus encountered all the bad stuff without sin so I had better try harder to be perfect like Him. However, in my humanity I am going to mess up. I'm going lose my temper, say a bad word (or two) and struggle with forgiveness. This verse isn't calling us to try harder. We should focus on the first part of the verse. We have a God who condescended and became just like us for 33 years and experienced every heartache, temptation and frustration that we encounter. I know of no other god like Him. Other gods are lofty and someone to aspire to, someone to please, and certainly not someone who died for me so that no matter how many times I fail I can be assured of eternal life.
We live in a world where it feels like we can't catch a break. Kids take us to our patience limit, disease is relentless and relationships are convoluted messes. Our kind Savior is looking to catch our eye and remind us, He gets it. He wants nothing more to be our place of rest and ease. He wants to take the burden from our backs.
Take a deep breath and nod at Him in prayer. That prayer doesn't have to be a verbose, high-minded, King James sounding prayer full or "thou"s and "art"s. No, sometimes the best prayer of all is, "Help me." That's it. Simple, concise and honest, that's all He wants from us.