Peace Like a River

I woke up this morning in the middle of a dream about having a fight with my youngest daughter about using the car. The dream took place in a location I’ve never been before and other people were in the dream but it didn’t make sense that they were. So it wasn’t a completely realistic dream. But as I lay in bed for a few minutes and fully woke, I thought about the argument in my dream—arguing about using the car is a common argument lately—and about how quiet this week has been.

My last blog was about a not-fun morning more than a week ago when my daughter got into trouble. And this week has been quiet, calm, and peaceful. I can’t decide, is it the calm after the storm, or calm before the next storm? Probably both.

I was trying to think of how I would describe this calm when the old gospel song Peace Like a River jumped into my brain and now I can’t get rid of it. The song starts out, “I’ve got peace like a river and love like an ocean.…” I get the “love like an ocean” part—your love is as great as the ocean is large. But what about “peace like a river”? A river is a constantly moving and constantly changing body of water. It never stops. It appears peaceful on the surface, but underneath there are currents that will carry away small fish if they’re not careful. Larger rivers can carry away logs and debris and other things I don’t want to think about. Is “peace like a river” an oxymoron?

When in a parenting battle with one of my daughters, my focus is not on nurturing myself. It’s on trying to guide her through a rough spot or a poor choice. So during these moments of peace, I try to be gentle to myself and I try to remind my husband of how much I love him and how much I appreciate his love for me. If the peace lasts more than a day, my mind begins to relax and other concerns in life wiggle their way into my thoughts. If the peace lasts several days, as in this case, I begin to feel energy slip back into my body and I have thoughts of getting things done and being productive and proactive. I hate that my life as a parent right now is so reactive. By nature I am a planner and a doer and I like to be proactive and plan things in an orderly fashion.

There is nothing orderly about being a parent. Kids get sick in the middle of the night. Ear infections show up just as you’re about to get in the car or on a plane (yikes!) for a long trip. Even childbirth is usually unplanned.

It may be that “peace like a river” is an oxymoron, but it’s an accurate description of life as a parent. Right now we’re floating along in the gentle flows of the water, not being tossed or turned or carried in a direction we don’t want to go. The real challenge is in trying to stay out of the not-so-gentle flows.

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