As part of my Refining Series, I will share Refining Stories: stories of women who have wrestled with God and have let difficult situations refine them. They’ve felt the sting of disappointment and have found God in the midst of pain.
Today meet Amanda , a mom who learned some valuable lessons from her newborn. I pray by reading her story, you’ll be able to recognize God at work in your life. I am honored to share Amanda’s story with you.
It was a black, warm night with no moon. The velvet darkness was being sliced to shreds by the wails of a two-month-old baby.
I held him close as the volume and intensity of his cries increased. A sob wrenched my chest as I watched my child squirm and scream, his tears squeezing out from under tight eyelids.
This. This was a new kind of pain. A tiny baby, born of my own body, and part of my own soul, distressed and refusing to be consoled.
It was something that hurt worse than any pregnancy or labor pains ever had.
Even the best new motherhood experiences can lay the soul bare and break it into shards.
Between the hours of lost sleep, the physical fatigue of continual feedings, and the emotional weight of the entire wellbeing of another human being resting solely on my shoulders, I was splitting at the seams. And no matter how much I tried to soothe and bless my baby, nothing seemed to make a difference.
He cried continuously, though all his needs were met. His voice rose and fell, then began climbing upward again in pitch. His eyes were closed, refusing to view my face.
I felt rejected. Helpless.
My tiny, tender one seemed to completely disregard the fact that he was being held in my arms—arms that would never let him fall. Arms that wanted to hold him and provide comfort.
His little fingers clenched, my baby flailed, limbs in the air, almost as if he were angrily shaking his fist in my face.
My eyes tingled, tears forcing forward to a free fall.
Earlier, my baby had refused to nurse. He had turned his head away. When I gently changed his diaper, he squalled and wriggled with discomfort. Now, even though rest and sleep was what he needed, this little child fought against it with all his might, working himself up to a frenzy. He took no notice of the fact that I was seeking to help him find sleep, at the expense of my own night’s rest.
Sometimes, the darkest moments open us up to the most profound light. And although my darkness was not of death, or chronic illness, of devastating diagnosis or even a traverse into tragedy, I still needed light.
As I watched my son, I suddenly understood.
“This is how God feels.”
This deep, broken pain, these sobs cracking me open, this willingness to do or give anything to make it all better for my little boy...this is how my Father feels when he watches me struggle or suffer.
Peace Showed Up
The realization was a startling, bittersweet revelation. In the harried haze of all I was feeling and the cries hitting against my ears and heart, I was suddenly not alone. The presence of the Comforter enveloped me like a warm blanket offering shelter from an icy wind. Peace showed up in the middle of the pain.
Every parent who has ever watched their child struggle has experienced the suffering of our Father. And Scripture assures us that suffering is no waste. Paul declared that he desired to know Christ, the power of the resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings. There is no resurrection without death. There is no strengthening without suffering.
What I began to learn that night was a lesson that gets re-lived on a weekly, if not daily, basis. And the weighty worth of this knowledge is the glimpse of the Father’s heart that I receive.
The helplessness and pain I feel when my son struggles is a microscopic picture of the pain my good Father feels when I, through lack of understanding and a finite ability to see no further than my own circumstances, cannot receive all he offers to me through my relationship with himself. He is so much more capable of meeting my needs and desires than I am capable of meeting the needs and desires of my son, and I still struggle to trust him.
And yet, thought it must grieve him, my God does not condemn me. He understands that I am “but dust.”
On that chill November night I knew my baby could not see what I saw. He knew only the present, only his own feelings, and did not understand that even in my imperfection, everything I did was meant for his good. I was not angry with him because he did not respond to my love and care—I was simply brokenhearted. At times, I felt frustration rise, but this simply highlighted the difference between my frail, imperfect love and God’s divine, complete love. He offers grace and loves me unconditionally.
This dizzy movement that is motherhood has continued to show me more. I know my child will grow. He will come to understand, more and more, how desperately I love him. I look forward to the days and years ahead when my son will be a young adult, and then a man, and perhaps a parent himself, and he will better understand my heart toward him.
My Father knows I am growing, too—that I am often infantile in my understanding of him, his desires for me, and what he is up to in my life, for beautiful good. He is patient. He is a perfect parent.
This refining fire is a slow burn, and begs to hold something tangible in the end to show for it. This is something I’m not promised. But I’m beginning to learn that all refining flames burn down our darkest misconceptions about God, turning his truth loose to light up life in a way it never could had our old towers of understanding stood strong. For this, I am forever grateful.
Maybe this will help.
I’ve included a guide to help you navigate your refining season. Click on the image below and leave your name and email so I know where to send it. Then head to your email to confirm your subscription and you’ll find a free printable resource at the bottom of your email. Just click on “free gift.”
Amanda Dzimianski is a Christ-follower who wants you to know you have an unshakable, incredible identity as an Image-Bearer of the one true God. Her goal is to encourage you to embrace this identity, through the avenues of creativity and community. Amanda’s roles include being a wife, a mom, a writer, a question-ask-er, a convalescing productivity addict, and a recovering Pharisee. Life today is one big experiment, as she embraces community centered around God, guesses her way through parenting, and creates as an act of worship. She and her husband and two-year-old son live in northeast Georgia, where she writes during nap time, stays up too late reading, and is trying to learn to like cold coffee. She loves to connect with readers through her blog and a brief, weekly newsletter.