Updated: Jun 3, 2021
It’s one thing to say “you can do it!” to your child, it’s another to force them to.
Recently, my six-year-old boy, the dog and I went for a walk. It was all sunshine and glee until he fell and hit the pavement.
There’s nothing sadder than the abrupt interruption of a child’s joy. “Look at me! Watch what I can do!” My son was proud, happy, sailing along beneath a sunny sky… Then, BOOM! The wind was ripped from his sails and he was on the ground in tears.
Naturally, I did what we do - I tried to gauge whether he was actually injured, or just shaken up. If I had a video to replay, I’d probably hear myself trying to talk him out of being hurt. “Aw, buddy, I bet you’re okay. That was scary, huh? But it looks like you’re going to be just fine, so let’s get back up and keep going! You’re okay, right?? You’re okay. Right?”
But he insisted he wasn’t, and proved it when he could only limp on his right foot. My little guy wanted me to pick him up and carry him the 3/4 mile we had left before reaching home. And I wanted to do that for him.
But, here’s the deal. Someone had to carry the scooter, and my dog is an overly-excited, “I’m likely to dart toward a squirrel, bunny, or human at any time so you better be ready” kind of dog, so I have to keep a firm grip on the leash at all times.
I didn’t have a free hand, let alone two, to carry my sad little boy. I told him he would have to be tough about it and walk home.
At this point, I’m still holding out hope that he’s not super hurt, and he can walk it off. Y’all, if you saw this super sad little kid wincing with each step, limping on one foot, trying to be tough about it all the while crying, it would rip your heart right out.
“Honey, you’re doing a great job, I’m so proud of you. I wish I could carry you, but I just can’t. I have the dog, the scooter, I can’t call Daddy to pick us up because I didn’t bring my phone… I’m so sorry you’re hurting, sweetie, but I need you to keep being tough for me.”
Basically, I’m feeling terrible for him and talking incessantly to try to make us both feel better about the circumstance, but it’s not working.
“You can do hard things, buddy. Sometimes we have to do hard things.”
After several more very long minutes of watching him try to do a “hard thing” without complaint, and with plenty of tears still falling down his face, my heart couldn’t take it anymore. I tapped into that superhuman strength God gave to mothers and I figured it out.
I wrapped the dog’s leash around my hand as securely as I could, I grabbed the scooter with the other hand and picked up my 60-pound baby. With his whole self wrapped around my front and his little face in the perfect position for me to kiss him, we continued our journey.
This is the part where he showed me his sensitive heart. It’s also the part where the Holy Spirit got involved.
My little guy said (in the sweetest voice ever), “Mommy, you don’t have to carry me. I didn’t ask you to carry me. I’ll do it. It’s hard for you to carry me, so you don’t have to… I’ll do it.”
To which I replied, “You did a hard thing, Buddy. Now, it’s my turn. Mommy can do a hard thing, too.”
He sniffed and said, “Okay,” and then nuzzled his soft little face into my neck.
The rest of the way home, we talked about what we’d do when we got there, and how we would make the evening fun. I paused occasionally to adjust the handling of all the things and thanked God that I was strong enough to do this, even if it was hurting. I also desperately hoped no squirrels would grab the dog’s attention and send this pile of love straight to the ground.
At the same time, in my heart, I was thinking about how God does this same thing for me, all the time.
I face hard things and I often have to be tough about it for a little while. I have to trust that “this too shall pass,” and seek Him for encouragement and strength while I walk it out. He’s right there with me, telling me I can do hard things through His strength in me.
And at some point, God says, “It’s my turn now. I can do the hard thing.” And He picks me up. And everything is all better.