Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

“I. DON’T. WANT. TO!!”

The yelling gets louder and louder as she stomps on her bed staring me down with a scrunched up angry face.

“Eliana, you need to stop shouting.”


I slowly back out of the room and shut the door on her rising rage.

I am quivering with my own anger and impatience. I want to just shake her or slap her, make her snap out of it. But as I contemplate these options, my reason overrides my carnal instinct.

I remember that she is only three.

Not even an hour before this outburst (brought on by the life-shattering mandate that she simply put on some shorts—a devastating command, I know) she was standing in the kitchen sobbing to her dad and me.

She had scraped her toes while trying to close a door. The shock triggered instantaneous wailing but also a confusing refusal to be comforted. Her dad tried to console her, which only resulted in even more screaming and shouts of, “Put me down!”

She wanted mommy but my hands were covered in the onion and garlic I was chopping for dinner so I gave her a handless hug and verbally empathized, “Oh no! did you scrape your toes under the door? Ouch! That hurts so much! I’ve done that before. I’m sorry, sweetie, I know it hurts.”

But did my attempt at motherly consolation succeed? Of course not. It simply brought on more angry tears and indiscernible blubbering (even though I had resisted adding, “That’s why I tell you not to play with doors”).

So, there the three of us were, standing in the kitchen with no foreseeable way forward.

Finally, through a hiccup and a sob, I made out her shaky words, “I want someone to pick me up!”

Instantly, my heart melted and I wanted to cry, too.

Here was my precious 3-year-old screaming and refusing to be comforted, all the while dying inside for someone to just pick her up.

“Josh, pick her up, please.”

He lifted his daughter into his arms again and walked out of the kitchen. Slowly, her snotty tears and warbling hiccups subsided. She finally calmed down enough to walk back into the kitchen and tell me all about her scraped toes—again.

Standing alone now staring at the closed door of her room, remembering this earlier episode, a soothing emotion slips through the back door of my hot anger: compassion.

My poor 3-year-old is being torn apart by her uncontrollable and ferocious striving for independence that wars against her deepest need to be close—to be loved, connected, and held.

There are no “terrible twos” or “tantrum threes”—there is only becoming.

My daughter is caught in the riptide of becoming and what she needs most is compassion. As I remember who she is—this wisp of iron will—and as I remember who she is to me—my flesh and blood, my very own—all my compassion is aroused and I determine not to respond in anger.

She needs a safe place to become. A safe place that has boundaries and consequences, predictability and consistency, and endless loving-kindness.

For all the times I’ve screamed at God, “I. DON’T. WANT. TO!” or “Why?!” or stood at the foot of His throne raging and inconsolable and desperate for Him to “pick me up” He has only responded in compassion.

He remembers who I am, that I am but dust.

A flailing earthling striving to become the image of Him I was created to be, ripped apart by my competing loves, led astray by my unholy need for singular autonomy. He remembers, and all His compassion is aroused. He does not come at me in anger. He is the Holy One among us who comes to me in love.

I take a deep breath and blow it out slowly. Five minutes have passed. Time to open the door.

“Do you know why I closed your door?”

“Yes. I was just yelling . . . and hitting you . . .” her voice trails off as she holds up her “hitting” hand.

“That’s right, and I can’t talk to you when you’re yelling. Are you ready to put your shorts on?”


She jumps up from her bed and starts babbling about her toys as I help her put one foot after another through the offending shorts. For her, the storm is passed and forgotten; she’s moved on to other things, leaving me kneeling in the wreckage. So goes the emotional weather systems of a 3-year-old. I try to shake it off and move on with her.

How God does it day after eternal day I’ll never know. But I’m grateful. So. Very. Grateful.

Originally published on the author’s blog

You may also like:

I’m Just a Toddler and I’m Still Learning

God is For Me

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Eryn Austin-Bergen

I'm a globe-trotter, wife, mother, Third Culture Kid, copywriter for non-profits, and lay-preacher. My husband and I are raising one daughter and have a son in heaven. We currently make our home near Cape Town in South Africa. I'm learning to lean into vulnerability (thanks, Brene Brown!) and am rediscovering my love of reading and creative writing.

The Proverbs 31 Woman for Teens

In: Faith, Teen, Tween
Teen girl smiling outside

A girl with a noble character is hard to find. Her family can trust her. She sees things to be done and does them without being told. She has a good attitude when asked to do something. She makes wise decisions about her friends. She tries to put others first even when she doesn’t want to. She stands up for herself and the underdog who is being bullied. RELATED: A Prayer For Daughters She tells the truth—even if she is going to get in trouble. She is strong physically and not lazy. She is a problem solver in all situations. She...

Keep Reading

Some Mothers Never Get Their Rainbow Baby

In: Faith, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Sad woman with head in hands sitting on bed

Not everyone gets a rainbow baby—that’s a truth not many of us talk about. There are many women who long to have a rainbow baby but because of health or age, they never get one. We never talk about it. We don’t want to bring rain on someone’s otherwise happy day. “Oh, I’m so excited for you. Congratulations on your rainbow baby.” Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for mine. The clock is ticking and there is no sign of a rainbow baby. My body is wearing down and the chances of getting pregnant dwindle. I don’t mean to sound bitter. I’m...

Keep Reading

God Had Different Plans

In: Faith, Motherhood
Silhouette of family swinging child between two parents

As I sip my twice-reheated coffee holding one baby and watching another run laps around the messy living room, I catch bits and pieces of the Good Morning America news broadcast. My mind drifts off for a second to the dreams I once had of being the one on the screen. Live from New York City with hair and makeup fixed before 6 a.m. I really believed that would be me. I just knew I’d be the one telling the mama with unwashed hair and tired eyes about the world events that happened overnight while she rocked babies and pumped milk....

Keep Reading

This Will Not Last Forever

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman looking at sunset

“This will not last forever,” I wrote those words on the unfinished walls above my daughter’s changing table. For some reason, it got very tiring to change her diapers. Nearly three years later, the words are still there though the changing table no longer is under them. While my house is still unfinished so I occasionally see those words, that stage of changing diapers for her has moved on. She did grow up, and I got a break. Now I do it for her baby brother. I have been reminding myself of the seasons of life again. Everything comes and...

Keep Reading

God Calls Me Flawless

In: Faith, Living
Note hanging on door, color photo

When I look in the mirror, I don’t always like what I see. I tend to focus on every imperfection, every flaw. As I age, more wrinkles naturally appear. And I’ve never been high maintenance, so the gray hairs are becoming more frequent, too. Growing up a lot of negative words were spoken about me: my body, my weight, my hair, my build. Words I’ve somehow carried my whole life. The people who proclaimed them as my truth don’t even remember what they said, I’m sure. But that’s the power of negative words. Sticks and stones may break our bones,...

Keep Reading

Your Husband Needs Friendship Too

In: Faith, Friendship, Marriage
3 men smiling outside

As the clock inches closer to 7:00 on a Monday evening, I pull out whatever dessert I had prepared that week and set it out on the kitchen counter. This particular week it’s a trifle, but other weeks it may be brownies, pound cake, or cookies of some kind. My eyes do one last sweep to make sure there isn’t a tripping hazard disguised as a dog toy on the floor and that the leftover dinner is put away. Then, my kids and I make ourselves scarce. Sometimes that involves library runs or gym visits, but it mostly looks like...

Keep Reading

This Is Why Moms Ask for Experience Gifts

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Mother and young daughter under Christmas lights wearing red sweaters

When a mama asks for experience gifts for her kids for Christmas, please don’t take it as she’s ungrateful or a Scrooge. She appreciates the love her children get, she really does. But she’s tired. She’s tired of the endless number of toys that sit in the bottom of a toy bin and never see the light of day. She’s tired of tripping over the hundreds of LEGOs and reminding her son to pick them up so the baby doesn’t find them and choke. She’s tired of having four Elsa dolls (we have baby Elsa, Barbie Elsa, a mini Elsa,...

Keep Reading

When You Just Don’t Feel Like Christmas

In: Faith, Living
Woman sad looking out a winter window

It’s hard to admit, but some years I have to force myself to decorate for Christmas. Some years the lights look a little dimmer. The garlands feel a bit heavier. And the circumstances of life just aren’t wrapped in a big red bow like I so wish they were. Then comparison creeps in like a fake Facebook friend and I just feel like hiding under the covers and skipping it all. Because I know there’s no way to measure up to the perfect life “out there.” And it all just feels heavier than it used to. Though I feel alone,...

Keep Reading

When Your Kids Ask, “Where Is God?”

In: Faith, Kids
Child looking at sunset

How do I know if the voice I’m hearing is God’s voice? When I was in high school, I found myself asking this question. My dad was a pastor, and I was feeling called to ministry. I didn’t know if I was just hearing my dad’s wish or the call of God. I was worried I was confusing the two. It turns out, I did know. I knew because I was raised to recognize the presence of God all around me. Once I knew what God’s presence felt like, I also knew what God’s voice sounded like. There is a...

Keep Reading

To the Woman Longing to Become a Mother

In: Faith, Grief, Motherhood
Woman looking at pregnancy test with hand on her head and sad expression

To the woman who is struggling with infertility. To the woman who is staring at another pregnancy test with your flashlight or holding it up in the light, praying so hard that there will be even the faintest line. To the woman whose period showed up right on time. To the woman who is just ready to quit. I don’t know the details of your story. I don’t know what doctors have told you. I don’t know how long you have been trying. I don’t know how many tears you have shed. I don’t know if you have lost a...

Keep Reading