Anger and hatred are the real enemies that we must confront and defeat, not the 'enemies' who appear from time to time in our lives.
- The Dalai Lama
And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. (Matthew 8:26)
I’m at the dining room table, grading the little boys’ spelling tests, when I hear footfalls from the stairwell. They’re solid. It’s my teenage son.
“Hey, Mom,” he says as he walks across the room.
I stop grading and look up. My son stands beside me, shifting his weight from foot to foot.
“Hey,” I say.
Grant smiles too, but it’s tense. Not free-flowing. Not the ever-shining, always-present grin that belonged to his boyhood.
“What’s up?” I ask.
Grant shifts again. His blue eyes are troubled. I can understand. We had an argument last night. Boundary issues. Familiar contention.
“Can you come up to my room?” he asks. “For a minute?”
“Sure,” I say. Truly, I am not sure. I’m still rattled from the disagreement the night before. We hadn’t found resolution. I love this son with all I have and being on opposite sides of a chasm breaks me. But I stand. Push my chair in. Follow my boy up our creaking, winding stairs.
We get to his room and my son’s back is to me. It’s one of those times that I’m taken aback by his frame. He’s grown big. Broad. For a moment I watch his shoulders rise and fall.
And I wonder what’s coming. I wonder what’s next.
“Grant,” I say. But I can’t finish. He reaches for his dresser. He turns and hands me a small, white box.
I’m not sure what to do. What to say. Something in my chest pulls tight.
“Open it?” he asks.
I pull the lid from the box. Inside is an owl pendant on a chain. It has a vintage look. It’s something I would have chosen. I take it from the box and let it rest in the palm of my hand.
“It looked like you,” he said. “I mean, I saw it at the mall this afternoon and it looked like something you’d like.”
“Thank you,” I say. And suddenly, right now, the details of last night aren’t pressing and heavy and it feels natural to pull this man-boy to my arms.
It’s been a tough haul recently, wading through miles of teen turbulence. And standing there in my son’s room, I know that we still have to work through this issue. I know there will be other disagreements, too. More waves. More wind. There will still be times of worry and fear. But in this moment, right now, God’s goodness has moved through the center of the storm.
In this moment, God’s grace breaks through.
“Love you,” my son says when the quiet has become awkward.
“I love you too, Grant,” I say.
For now, all is still. All is well. In a deep place I understand that the Lord is here, working in our lives, bringing goodness even from hard things. His mighty hand is with us. My faith stands stronger. And as I pull away and turn to leave, I’m grateful for this sweet mercy moment. I’m grateful for a Lord who calls out a boy’s tenderness. And I’m grateful for a Father who calms a storm.
Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny have been married for twenty-five years. They have five sons and raise their bevy of boys in an old Victorian near the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River. Their sons, Logan, Grant, Samuel, Gabriel, and Isaiah, range in age from twenty-one to six with Shawnelle home teaching the youngest three.
Shawnelle has been writing for six years, contributing regularly to Guideposts magazine, Daily Guideposts devotional and other inspirational publications. She would say that life with her men moves faithfully, on fast forward. But it’s her heart’s desire, her passionate prayer, to see God’s goodness and glory in the fullness of her days. She longs to see Him in the unexpected moments, unexpected places, changing the ordinary to extraordinary and bringing quiet, sustaining grace.