– Chuck Swindoll (paraphrased)
I have this quote written on a post-it note stuck to the inside cover of my Bible. I scribbled it down several years ago as I was listening to a message by Chuck Swindoll on the radio. Clearly, the idea stuck with me.
I think of this message often, and I’m reminded that when the rainstorms of life start pouring down on me, if I am willing, the very circumstance that feels so uncomfortable may also be the very means by which our loving God keeps me humble and flexible and ultimately compassionate for others’ trials and heartaches - and not consumed by my own. Ultimately, it is the rainstorms of life that continue to keep my heart softened towards others, as I recognize my own need for compassion.
The reality is that no one likes to be rained on…at least not the cold, wet, bone-chilling rain that sends you running for cover. I am no exception. I like the sunshine just as much as the next person, but as the great Dr. Swindoll points out, too much sunshine can leave us hardened and brittle.
So I take the rain in stride, praying for just enough sunshine to bring me joy and yet keep me humble.
I'll admit, now that I have a child of my own, for the first time in my life, my instinct is to feel fear when a big rainstorm blows through...fear that my home will blow over and that my daughter will be hurt. Just ask my husband; I pace back and forth checking the news for minute by minute updates for tornadoes or whatever the threat might be. Storms scare me now in a way that they never have before.
I've got a family to protect, gosh darn it.
BUT...have you ever noticed how there are moments in the middle of a storm when you actually feel peaceful...even safe? The moments where you grab a cup of hot cocoa, curl up under a blanket and watch the dark clouds let loose their fury all the while remaining completely still and at peace from the safety of being on the inside of that window view?
My walk with the Lord has been a lot like that experience. The storms of life come as they inevitably will, but when I take cover beneath the shelter of the Lord, it's like I have that cup of hot cocoa in hand, and I'm all curled up in a blanket, peacefully awaiting the storm's passing...
Today, I am at that peaceful place.
Which leads me to an update on a previous post I shared about my daughter pulling out her own hair...
Even as I'm typing to you all now, I feel a lump in my throat as I fight back the tears. They are not tears of pain, mind you, but genuinely tears of gratitude. I received such an outpouring of emails and personal Facebook messages offering prayers and powerful words of encouragement, that I was just BLOWN AWAY by the kindness and compassion of others.
In response to those of you who have so kindly prayed for Chloe and checked in to see how she is doing, I thought I would share an update.
I was contacted by other mommas dealing with this very same confusing and yet distressing issue with their little ones. We cried as we read each others' stories. We encouraged one another, and we've been working through it together.
Even more so, I have been able to step inside the shoes of others. I've learned of their struggles - the ones that hurt deep down inside so much so that they can hardly bring themselves to share their stories. I've felt the weight of their heartache, and if you know me, I assure you that if I've told you that I'm praying for you, I really have been. Prayer has moved the mountains in my life, and I know it will move the mountains in your life, too.
While I look on my initial hesitation to be such an open book about both the joys and struggles of life, I've found that the good Lord has used even the smallest of experiences I've shared to give others the freedom to open up and share their battles as well. Many are struggling with their marriages, divorce, death and loss of loved ones, major childhood operations, cancer and so much more, and it's a reminder that we're all in this thing called life together. No matter how polished someone looks on the outside, they have their struggles, too.
We all do.
More times than I care to admit, I've been quick to jump to judgement about someone and their situation only to totally eat crow later after their circumstances and struggles have been revealed. Then, I feel like a total BUTTHEAD, crawling back on my hands and knees offering the compassion that should have been my reaction in the first place.
"For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 KJV
It's so easy to judge, and yet all those hurting people really need is compassion. A simple word of kindness. Encouragement.
Thank you, friends, for coming along this journey with me and giving me just that. I want to do the same for you.
So where does it leave us with Chloe pulling out her hair? Well, that last resort I talked about in the earlier post...well, that day came.
We shaved our little girl's head.
I couldn't do it, so my husband shaved it.
I understand it's a cultural thing for some to shave their daughter's head at this age, but it is not a part of either mine nor my husband's culture. Our daughter had a beautiful head of hair for the better part of two years, so shaving her head was tough. We hope this breaks the habit once and for all, but I'm trying to prepare myself emotionally should we need to do it again.
Here's what lead to our decision to shave her head...
I worked creatively to cover it up the bald patches, but, slowly, her head was becoming balder and balder on the top of her head from all the pulling.
Then, it went from bad to worse.
In one week, she had pulled out so much hair, that I was nearly beside myself on what to do. The bald spot was so huge that there was no hiding it anymore. She had a major problem, and we needed to take a drastic measure to try to correct it. We shaved her head right then and there...with lots of tears from this mommy of hers.
Since shaving her head, I've only caught her a couple times trying to pull her hair (once trying to pull out her eyelashes - sheesh), but since she doesn't really have any hair to pull, there's really not much she can do. I've also been really focusing on giving her real whole foods that I know to be particularly nutrient dense to fight the urge to eat hair (or any non-food items). Nutrition has been a huge focus for me, so I've been sorting through what works and doesn't work to help her through this process.
While our struggle with Chloe pulling out her hair may seem minor in comparison to bigger battles, it has still carried its weight. Watching your child do any sort of self-destructive behavior and not being unable to control it, sucks (for lack of a better word), but I'm reminded once again, that no matter how big or small the battle, we all feel hurt and heartache when our children are suffering, and there is a faithful Heavenly Father who still cares.
You know that peace in the midst of the storm I was talking about earlier, well, it hit me as soon as I let go, and we shaved her head. The stress and worry, the wondering all hours of the night if she was pulling out more hair (and worse - eating it), it was all gone when we shaved her head. Who knew?
It's been over a month since we shaved Chloe's head. Slowly, her hair is starting to grow back in, but it's still really just peach fuzz at this point. I love that beautiful little noggin of hers, and both hubby and I give her fuzzy little head lots of kisses.
I think she looks beautiful even without her hair, but I, admit, I do look forward to the day that it grows back in because, more importantly, it will mean that the hair pulling has stopped.
Thank you again, friends, for walking this journey with us. Your prayers and words of encouragement have blessed us more than you know!
"But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand." Isaiah 64:8 KJV
Click here to read Part I: My Toddler Pulls Out Her Hair
Click here to read Part II: When the Rain Comes
Click here to read Part III: My Toddler Pulls Out Her Hair - 1 Year Later