when kids are pushing your buttons (like, all of them)

Fighting for you

I was about to flip out, and that’s the ugly truth of it.

I was in front of a little dude who was pushing all my buttons, simultaneously, and we were dancing on the edge of a power-struggle, the kind that renders everyone a loser. For those of you who work with children and students “from hard places” (as Dr. Karyn Purvis describes), you get this scenario.

Or, maybe I should just stop at “who work with children and students.” Period.

Anyway, as flashes of angry words exploded in my mind, (ones I’d have momentarily enjoyed expressing, to be honest) I felt a strong sense of clarity. I’d like to think it was divine intervention. Two calming and gentle words doused my frustration: “Not today.”

This child, broken up by early rejection and thus defensive beyond belief, was not going to trigger me – not today. Yes, I wanted respect and eye-contact and verbal responses and a host of other things that would satisfy me – the Self that commands rather than connects and that is authoritative rather than his advocate.

But, I was making loving him about his behaviors, and it’s just not about that.

It’s about relying daily on a Source for love that is beyond our feelings. It’s about getting ourselves, our tendencies, and our triggers under control so that healing, hope-filled, life-changing Love can get from the Father to His child, through us. It’s about not giving up or giving in – not today – and then claiming the same two words tomorrow and every day after.

Yeah, maybe that sounds simplistic – but living it day after day makes it profound.

So, this is for all the mamas and teachers and others who are fighting for kids instead of with them in order to promote that kind of healing.

Fighting with For You

Not today, kiddo.

That’s right.

Yeah, one of these days,

my pain may lurch out-

full force.

I may roar or shout or wail.

I’ll have to apologize then

for not controlling myself

for giving my wounds a microphone

and just letting them cry out.


not today.

Today, by God’s grace,

I am strangling Self.

I have it down

on the mat in a ¾ nelson.

And so, I am able to choose Love.

No, it’s not because I’m loving-

you know me better than that.

It’s because I’m empty,

empty like the Grand Canyon.

But, you know,

the Grand Canyon is just a thimble

that can’t begin to hold

God’s endless, boundless, limitless love.

That’s the kind of stuff

He’s pouring into me.

So, I have plenty.

That’s right-


to extend to you.


I’ll be honest:

Your glare

burns. Your words

send my stomach into a fetal position. Your actions

knock the wind out of my heart.

And, one of these days, I may let up on Self-

not because I want to

but because I get so exhausted.

I might give up.

But, not


Today, I have sweat in my eyelashes, and

my ears are throbbing to my heartbeat, but

I can still hear my Father’s voice:

“Don’t throw in the towel today, child!

We can go another round,” He says,

“‘cause I still have more love.”

So, truth is, I have plenty

for today. That’s right.

P-L-E-N-T-Y -plenty

to extend

to you.

Just for the record, this isn’t between

you and me, kid.

It’s Self and me,

with my eyes on Him.

I’m fighting for you

not with you. I’m fighting to keep

Self down

so that you can feel His love

through me.


And, I will go another round.


Yes, one more round.

And now, let me tell you something true, kiddo,

something to count on.

My Father – He says

the same thing every day:

“Don’t throw in the towel today, child!

We can go another round,” He says,

“‘cause I still have more love.”

So, I have plenty.

That’s right.

P-L-E-N-T-Y -plenty

to extend

to you, kid.

You are loved.

Anne Dahlhauser

Anne blogs at Front Porch, Inspired about surrendering everyday living for sacred purposes. She and her husband, Jay, are founders of a ministry called The Bridge of Storm Lake, focusing on missional living and advocacy for youth in vulnerable places of life. She holds an MA in Teaching Languages (TESOL and Spanish) and is a lover of words and the Word, culture and communication. Jay and Anne have five kids, a front door that can't stay closed, and an abundance of messy, holy chaos at their neighborhood center/home in Iowa - of all places.

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