Turning the Other Cheek?

I am regularly asked to join prayer requests for friends at church, friends from work, home, wherever. Sometimes I even join them for people I don’t know. Knowing the power of prayer, I figure I have a few more to spare each day and can definitely pray for those who need God’s healing hand.

Recently, I joined a prayer list for a young girl suffering from Shaken Baby Syndrome. I found myself drawn to her updates and praying every night for her healthy return. How her father could shake her and cause such damage to her tiny brain was beyond me. Many nights my son has frustrated me, last night even—his screaming into my ear in the bathtub made me question my sanity at having another child and hoping I wasn’t going deaf—but I would never abuse him nor blame him. It was a frustrating moment and I just put him down and walked away for about 30 seconds.

Reading about and praying for this baby girl every day led me to the Facebook prayer pages of several other babies suffering from abuse and medical issues. I found myself having a hard time remembering all the families I was supposed to pray for each night because I’d joined so many prayer chains. I was praying for babies with unspeakable genetic issues and found myself every night forgetting to pray to God with thanks for my own healthy family.

As I went down the rabbit hole of these abused babies, I finally had to delete the Facebook page of the baby with SBS. I know I will continue to pray for her each night so my deletion does not mean she will be ignored. But I could no longer read another case about child abuse. I hear it on the news and online and even in my place of silly time-wasting, Facebook. I can not wrap my brain around this evil act and as so many know how precious it is to bring a child into this world, we with our bare hands can reverse it so quickly. We are adults and need to act like ones.

I often wonder if I waited too long to have kids. Maybe I will be 40 when my kids are still in diapers and in my 60s when they graduate college. But I now know in my 20s I was not mature enough to handle the lack of sleep; the giving up of fun things and most important, the patience necessary to handle a screaming infant or toddler. My maturity level just wasn’t there. I’m sure there are plenty of people who at 21 or 25 or 28 are mature enough to handle this, but I wasn’t.

I think sometimes we as first-time parents try too hard to have this bravado, and we forget it’s okay to ask for help. We think we must know it all and therefore get frustrated when something doesn’t go like we see in the movies or hear about from friends. If our kid isn’t walking by a certain age or feeding him or herself or reciting the alphabet by 3, we think we’ve failed. And in those failures and frustration, I wonder if that is when people abuse their children. But in reality, we are all just doing the best we can and children progress at their own pace.

I feel bad for having to take myself off the prayer chain on Facebook but I can promise that little girl I will continue to pray for her. I just couldn’t take the daily updates about yet another child suffering from the impatience of a monster. An infant, a toddler and even a grade-school child, are still so young and impressionable and irresponsible with their actions, they deserve no such thing. In fact, no one deserves abuse, at any age. But my heart breaks daily over those Facebook updates, so for now I must remove myself. I cannot take it anymore. I know I am a coward to turn the other cheek but I hope there are other prayer warriors out there who can sustain the hope these babies need.

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