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My almost 4-year-old has fierce emotions. It comes with the age and all the feelings that are welling up in her. It comes with not being able to adequately express what she’s feeling and what she wants. Like many young children she can go from joyful to the-world-is-ending in a matter of seconds.


Her brother takes one of the many toy trains.

She wants to wear the same shirt she’s worn for days.

We give her the blue cup instead of the pink one.

Someone other than her mama attempts to unbuckle her from the carseat.

You try to take the papers out of her school bag.


Try any of these and some days it’s the cause for a full-blown meltdown.


When she’s screaming or laying on the floor it takes everything for me to simply remain calm. To take a deep breath. To wait. To let her emotions flood over her and pass. To sit by her side and tell her I’m here.


Eventually she calms down and just as quickly as she started screaming she starts smiling and laughing again. The joy back to her face.


I wish it could be that easy as an adult.


The news causes me to meltdown myself. The constant fighting and lies among people in power. The violence inflicted on God’s children. The harming of our earth. The lack of respect for all God’s people.


I can just as easily go from a joyful spirit to one of heaviness, pain, and fear. I often wonder how we’ll ever move forward.


Can I take a cue from how my daughter is calmed? Can I look for the people who are sitting by my side reminding me that this world is full of people who do care? Can I recognize the people who are bringing goodness and hope and healing into the world? Can I remember that I’m not alone in my frustration or my resolve to bear witness to God’s justice? Can I remember the people who are showing up and offering words of peace?  


Many days I think we all need to have a collective meltdown. To let it all out. To cry and mourn. To scream in anguish. And then take a deep breath and recognize the people standing next to us. That we’re not alone. We never were. We never will be.  


Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website: or follow her work on Facebook:


image: Laughing Girl by Robert Henri, 1910


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