Sometimes when I observe my kids, I wonder if God ever muses over us in a similar manner as parents watching their children.
For example, kids can be incredibly trusting even in the most precarious situations. My daughter is quite daring and fearless. Last summer at the playground, she wanted to follow her brother onto equipment designed for older kids. At eighteen months old, she was nowhere near big enough to reach the swinging, suspended steps that her big brother navigated just ahead of her but she charged ahead anyway, confident she would successfully cross the steps, just like him. I intervened just as she took a literal leap of faith and stepped off the main platform. I held her hands as she giggled and walked across the unstable steps, relying 100% on me to support and lift her with each step. As I helped her across the steps, I wondered if this is how a leap of faith should look: complete trust that God will catch us and things will be okay. There was no second-guessing or hesitation on my daughter’s part, she never stopped to weigh the pros and cons of her leap of faith, she never checked to make sure I was going to catch her. She simply trusted and knew she would be okay.
In all my opportunities to practice such complete trust in various transitions and difficult periods in my life, I have never once so confidently leapt in faith the way my daughter frequently does. I am working on being more trusting. I pray about it and envision myself taking a leap of faith into the unknown, but I often end up in my default mode: planning, organizing, analyzing, overthinking whatever decision or change that is about to occur. I find it difficult to give up a sense of control. I am learning from my daughter’s examples how to work on trusting with such confident faith.
Of course, there are the more frustrating traits children innately possess that I also sometimes simply observe and, again, wonder if God has similar reactions to our behavior. Whining, for example. My son can be a world-class whiner. I will attempt to reason with him, “You can have dessert, but first you need to eat all your veggies,” or the frequent, “For the love of all that is holy and good, you may not hold on to all of the toys in this room, you have to share with your sister.” His response, of course, is never just, “Okay, sounds good,” it’s always, “But whyyyyy??!” followed by a healthy dose of fake cries and dramatic, frustrated flopping to the ground.
Later, when I think about these particular exchanges, I’m struck with a sense that maybe my reactions to God in certain situations aren’t so very different. “I can’t wait any longer for (insert whatever desired milestone or requested answer)…it’s already been forever!” or “My life never goes how I want it to, just this once I want things to go my way,” or my frequent, “Today’s not my day,” as I realized I accomplished close to nothing on my never ending to-do list and was completely exhausted by the frequent emotional outbursts from the kids. Is God just as bewildered by my impatience and inability to see past the present moment of chaos as I am with my kids’ whining over appearingly minor things?
I feel this comparison applies to other situations as well. After I’ve explained to my kids for the millionth time why they can’t do certain things (hit, use mean words, hoard toys) and they proceed to do the very thing I just directed them not to do, am I so different in my own faith walk? Don’t I frequently catch myself doing the very things I know I shouldn’t be doing or saying? Or, when my kids cry inconsolably, despite being held and soothed, it makes me pause and reflect on my own reaction to life’s discomforts and frustrations. When things don’t go my way and I cry, isn’t God still present? Isn’t He whispering soothing words of comfort all while I carry on oblivious to the Spirit’s presence? Maybe I’m actually not so different from my kids, which is a good reminder that I still have a lot to learn.
Obviously, I will never have the answers in this sphere of time, but observing my kids has caused me to pause and consider my own behavior and response to situations, the good and the not-so-good. I find it interesting that a lot of what I tell my kids is stuff I need to keep applying to my own life. It’s a process, but I will continue to grow in this faith journey just as I continue to do my best to guide my kids on the beginning of their journeys.
Wendi, her husband, and their two kids are currently perfecting their best “ya sure you betcha” accents, having recently relocated to northern Minnesota. She is co-author of the blog The Unexpected Ever Afters and a member of the podcast Moms Who Wine.
*photo credit: personal photo*