May 17, 2015
A couple weeks ago, as we were closing in on bedtime, we decided to be fun parents and let the kids stay up late to watch a movie and eat candy. Because we’re fun. The problem is, one member of our household didn’t see it that way. Would you be shocked if I told you it was our girl?
She would like to think that she is in charge of the running of our home, and, in all seriousness, why wouldn’t she? When everything that’s important in her life feels so completely out of control, is it any wonder she tries to control the things she thinks she can? Of course it makes sense. It’s also exasperating.
Anyhow, on this particular night we told her she could come join us in the movie-watching, candy-eating festivities or go to bed, and she began to huff and puff about all the things she wanted to do instead. We said “well that’s nice, but it’s almost bedtime, so you can go to bed, OR, because we’re such fun parents, you can stay up late and eat candy and watch a movie.” But she continued to huff and puff. She just wasn’t sure she would like the movie. She had her own shows she wanted to watch. She wanted to play. And what she really wanted was to spend some time reading. (If you know her, that last excuse is hilarious. The day reading trumps all other activities will be a cold day in…Arizona.) Finally we said enough, and sent her to her room. We’d given her her choices, we’d listened to a multitude of complaints, and that was that. But the moment we sent her to her room, she changed her mind, and became absolutely certain she wanted to watch the movie. We didn’t let her, and a prolonged bout of weeping ensued.
Does this sound mean? It shouldn’t sound mean. We offered two options, clearly and cheerfully. Her attitude sucked, she repeatedly said she didn’t want to watch the movie, and we followed through. This is an all-day, every-day issue with her. If she’s not the originator of an idea, she doesn’t want to do it. I understand the resistance to do potentially unpleasant things like chores and homework, but it’s been so interesting/heartbreaking/frustrating to watch her routinely turn down good things, just because we’re the ones who suggested them, and because she wasn’t getting them on her terms.
It’s also one of those things that forces some introspection on my part, because I’m pretty sure I do this too. In fact, I’m certain I do.
What things do I miss out on because I’m not willing to trust God fully? When do I look at a person and let jealousy or insecurity stand in the way of friendship? When is growth in my marriage, my parenting, my friendships hampered by laziness? When do I let fear of the unknown or fear of failure stop me from trying something, doing something, pursuing something that could be great? How often does God say “look, I have this amazing thing to give you” and I respond with “no thanks, I’m comfortable with what I’ve got” and mistakenly call it contentment?
It’s this observation from C.S. Lewis:
“It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Sometimes–often?–God offers me a metaphorical late night movie and candy, or a holiday at the sea, and I complain that I want to do my own thing instead. I get stuck in the metaphorical mud, thinking it’s what I want, and miss out on the breathless beauty of seeing God at work. I don’t want that. I want to answer His call, and follow where He leads, and believe, with all my heart, that what He’s offering is better than everything else, because it is.