Updated: Jun 25, 2021
I have one child who, as a toddler, had an unexplained aversion to Target. (We’ll call her Lucy.) Each time I approached the front doors of Target, Lucy would stiffen as straight as a board and would refuse to sit in the seat on the top of the red cart. Encouraging, pleading, and even attempting to tickle her tummy to trick her into bending proved to be unsuccessful. Eventually, I would find some way to fold her up just enough to buckle her into the seat and head off through the store. The most memorable of these trips included the fitting for new shoes.
The only thing that made these stormy outings more bearable were the knowing glances from those moms or grandmas who would spot me in the aisle, and shoot me a quick look of, "I got you, girl. You can do this.”
There's a comradery out there among parents—because no matter our economic status, race or religion, there are common experiences in the difficulty of raising children. Life doesn’t let anyone off the hook. You can have all the money or resources in the world, but if your kid doesn't want to try on the Velcro princess shoe, she will ball her foot up so tight, you can forget getting it on.
Our pain is what connects us in our experiences, even at different stages. You might not be a toddler mom. Maybe you dropped your first kid off at college and made the tearful walk from the dorm to the parking lot, to an empty car. Or you're the husband who sits in the waiting room while your wife goes back for her second or third mammogram because they’re not sure they’re getting a clear picture of the mass that was found. If you look around, there's someone who's been there and done that. And if your eyes don’t see another person to relate to, in the dorm elevator or in the waiting room, you can be assured there’s One waiting to hear your prayer who can relate.
It might seem silly to think Jesus identifies with us. No, He was not a father to screaming toddlers but His disciples weren't much better at times. Hot-headed Peter 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 left His dear cousin who baptized Him, in prison; knowing John's head would soon be served on a platter. Jesus had no wife, but He wept over the death of a good friend.
In fact, there’s no depth of our own pain that He hasn’t experienced. How about betrayal? Which of us hasn’t seen that nervous smile and quick kiss from a supposed friend that turns out to be the kiss of death? We've all had a friend or family member practice deceit. Betrayal burns in our hearts the most and seems to be the most difficult to forgive. Jesus catches our eye lovingly, 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. (ESV, 2001)
I used to focus on the fact that Jesus encountered all the bad stuff without sinning, so I should try harder to be perfect like Him. However, I recently realized the value of looking more to see the knowing glances of our High Priest as the beginning part of the Scripture references—the great reminder that I am never alone. I may mess it up. I may lose my temper, say a bad word (or two), and struggle with forgiveness. This verse isn't calling us to try harder, it’s the job of the Holy Spirit to enable us to act in the holiness we simply cannot muster on our own. And we have a God who, like us, experienced every heartache, temptation, and frustration we encounter. Our kind Savior is looking to catch our eye and remind us, He gets it.
Connect with Nicole at MountofMessy.com