I have reflected in our home a number of times that the stimming behavior (repetitive, self-stimulating motions that are self-harming in Noah's case) that Noah does has taught me much about how I relate to God. See, stimming goes like this: I'm uncomfortable, tired, scared, lonely, bored, hungry, or mad, and therefore I will hit myself. Now my face hurts.... so I'll hit myself again to deal with the pain. Lather, rinse, and repeat.
Go ahead and nominate me for the dad of the year award. My first thought after the black eye incident was "Well, that was dumb." But my second, more humble, thought, was: "Yeah, but I do the same thing."
I haven't punched myself in the face lately, but I have given into gluttony, checking out from a hard day with TV and entertainment, finding creative ways to be lazy and selfish and avoid serving, surfing the web pointlessly, or any other host of idolatrous outlets. So, maybe not physically, but spiritually, yeah, I just punched myself in the face.
Here's how it goes: In my flesh I think I am alone. And I feel uncomfortable, hungry, tired, scared, lonely, etc. I had a bad day, I felt disrespected, I got a lousy night's sleep, or the project I was working on didn't go well. So, I deal with it the way a spiritual orphan does: sin. I think these stupid little things will comfort me, but when the stomach ache of gorging myself on cookies comes (entirely hypothetical), I feel worse then when I started. And my temptation is then to just move to the next "comfort" which satisfies my soul as much as punching himself in the face helps my son deal with his discomforts.
But I am thankful that for both Noah and myself there's another way. I could attempt to deal with these situations on my own, spiritual black-eyes and all, or I can run into my Heavenly Father's arms. "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry 'Abba! Father!'" - Romans 8:15.
For those in Christ, we're not spiritual orphans anymore and we need to ditch the orphanage behavior. Just in the way I can stand up and proudly proclaim that Noah is an orphan no more, but my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased, so the Lord says the same about me. Not because of what I've done, but because of what Jesus has done.
We are teaching Noah to run to us to meet his needs, and I think the Lord is teaching us the same thing. Our stressors or problems might look different ("Holy frijoles, the heating bill was high!," "I've got so many exams piling up!," "Are we going to break up?"), and the "calming" behaviors we use might look different (food, entertainment, porn, laziness, defensiveness), but the solution is the same - to let the Lord meet our needs. To trust him to provide. To wait patiently even when the thing we want doesn't come on our timing. Because he is a good Father who knows what we need.
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:7-11.