Lessons from Lightsabers

I watch them from the kitchen sink.
One has all the lightsabers, the other none, and they claw for them. I see Cain and Abel on their faces, and it scares me.

I set down a plate and walk outside. I tell them to go to their room, to their bed. I tell them about playing nice and loving your brother, but I can’t express the other things.
How do you tell a three year old and a two year old about murderous hearts, that brothers aren’t a guarantee?
They cry in their rooms, “LET ME OUT! I’ll be good FOREVER!”
I want to cry. I want to tell them they are the same, the same, the same. They are each more valuable than a plastic sword, and the wounds they inflict through hot tears are hard to heal.
The promises of Forever Goodness fade in a minute and a half. Life’s murder one minute and empty promises the next.
The shouting turns to screams, and I march to the beat of a fist banging on the wall. I feel my own anger rise up as I get closer, and I feel crazy. I feel like like hitting and screaming. Something small and still pricks the layer of anger that has wrapped my bones, and I hear “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
I stand and breathe, realizing I am guilty too. It’s a daily choice for me, to stop fighting.

I speak softly. Softly, I tell him to stop hitting the house, and softly I discipline, and softly I sit with a crying three year old on my lap. I rub his back and I listen to the tones of his voice, his cry. He stops and looks at me.

We stare at each other for a minute, and I wonder if we both see it. The mother who’s the same as the child, the common thread of wrath that courses through our veins.
I sit and think of all the violence a family can carry and how the world is full of rage and the ground is full of brother’s blood, testifying against us. It seems so hopeless, all this dirt.

Out my window there’s a morning glory, royal purple and climbing up to the sun.

My sons have moved on to dinosaurs, the storm has passed.
I know this is just the beginning, I know hurricane season lasts a lifetime. They will always battle, I will always battle. “The anger of man…
I want the morning glory and the righteousness of God. I want the sun.
But to get it? Wrath is futile, just more hurt in the ground.

I sit and pray, without words to the One who makes flowers grow out of bloody soil, my last hope, my best hope.

Later, I see all the lightsabers I cling to. All the weapons against hunger, cold, hurt, nakedness…all the plastic swords I protect myself with. The collection of cans, the bank account, the free shipping from Amazon. I watch the stock market tumble, joke with my husband about daily bread and the 120 tortillas I have stockpiled.

I pry my fingers from the childish toys, the stuff I think I need, and I know I want. I tell myself again I don’t want the extra when my brother is crying and grabbing for it. I tell myself it’s time to donate to the starving in Africa, quickly, and it’s amazing what God grows when He has dirt that surrenders…

Do you have extra today? Join me, donate something, somewhere. You can click here or click here to donate any amount. 

19 thoughts on “Lessons from Lightsabers

  1. As I was reading this all I could think of was grace covers all. The mistakes our children make, the mistakes we make raising our children and every time we fall short. Praise be to God for his grace that we may extend that grace to others. I always love hearing what comes out of your head.

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  2. I've said it before, JoAnn. You're a good mom. The consistency of your discipline will sink in, and God's mercy is new every morning. I agree with you in giving away the extra. I often think God blesses us with more than enough because He trusts us to share. We are His ambassadors, after all.

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  3. My husband says that when he and his brother were young, they used to fight until one of them drew blood. Then they would become allies in covering it up so their parents wouldn't find out. I don't understand boys–all that testosterone. It does wear on a mother's heart. I threw my son's light saber in the trash.

    What Jodi said–your efforts will bear fruit. And, I'm linking this on my FB page–you're officially entered as part of my Kiva giveaway.

    Love you.

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  4. “Something small and still pricks the layer of anger that has wrapped my bones, and I hear “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

    I stand and breathe, realizing I am guilty too. It's a daily choice for me, to stop fighting.”

    yes, it's always a choice, isn't it? daily and even moment by moment. i'm so glad that He is on our side. that He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

    i agree with you on letting go of our “toys,” too. and i love the gentle way He helps us to open our hands…

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  5. Oh this post – especially the last two paragraphs – I find myself clinging to things with a death-grip, and I justify it by comparing myself to what others do/don't do. It's time for me to release and do something more.

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  6. They are each more valuable than a plastic sword, and the wounds they inflict through hot tears are hard to heal…

    joann, this is one of your best posts… so tender and beautiful and real. and i love that you are collecting donations for africa. i love it. love you. xo

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  7. This really got to me. Sitting here, having to take steps to lose weight because of the surplus of food around me…it breaks my heart what's happening in Africa.

    Thanks for this post. I've been a supporter of Doctors without Borders before (and actually, there's a small knitting movement called “Knitters without Borders”, which donates money to DWB) and I'm happy to donate to them again.

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  8. I read this post this morning and started crying. I read it out loud to my husband and started crying again.

    You are such a gifted writer. Your eloquence and truthfulness get me every time.

    Once again, you've left me speechless and in awe of your talent and grace.

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  9. And THIS is why I think I should never go on vacation.

    Because I missed such beauty when you first posted it.

    And although I am commenting now, my words are after-the-fact.

    You have moved on to new posts and I am tragically behind. (With no new post of my own, by the way.)

    I'm sorry to have delayed such loveliness. But I am grateful for family vacations and birthdays and cake and love.

    Also, I thank you for the deep breaths and food for thought you give me…every time I come here.

    Better than 120 tortillas any day.
    By far.

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