Emotional Square Footage (Sunday Thoughts #4)

GENESIS 21:6-10

6 Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” 7 And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

8 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”


I couldn’t talk about Sarah last week without remembering what happened not long after God granted her greatest wish. She laughs at God in disbelief when he promises her a son and yet he comes through regardless and Isaac is born. Her laughter now rings genuine, the laughter of a mother, that long-sought position. Life is good in Abraham’s household. He’s now got two strapping toddlers, tiny buds on the branches of the patriarchal tree.

And yet, here we come full circle, to Sarah angry once more when her precious cargo gets teased at a party. Granted, this sibling rivalry is Shakespearean drama at its finest, yet Sarah takes it further. She pushes for Hagar and Ishmael’s banishment. She cannot see past her own defensive anger, her own emotional windstorm.

How many times as parents do we lose sight of the end game? How many times have I forgotten that I do have everything I cried over and prayed for in those lonely hours after midnight but long before day? I have three healthy and opinionated children. I have a husband who gets me and gets over my drama as quickly as I could ever wish. But if the twins don’t nap one day, it’s the end of “nice mommy.” Or Charlie has a fever and his limbs grow tight and shaky and I’m blinded by fears of ambulances and ERs and seizures unstoppable. This world is SO BIG in my face and those nights praying and those heart’s desires are already misty in the background, like the first ten minutes of every Lord of the Rings movie where they rush you through the epic history to get to the present action. Tolkien would tsk in disapproval. He understood the slow and steady plod of history, the building of consequences, the importance of memory.

I don’t want to be like Sarah, forgetting what has come before, held hostage by the play-by-play. It’s okay to feel all the feels, but there has to be some rationale that leads the way. I think that’s why God so often urges us to act on what we know rather than what we feel. I think that’s why I start to unravel ever so slowly when I don’t read the Scripture on the regular. Humans are 60% water. The other 40% of me is emotion that rides the waves unless I fight back with some solid truth to build a little footage. I’m okay with it. I know this about myself. It’s when you know it and don’t do anything that you start to drown.