Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
So, I generally try to put a little extra effort into the time I spend with my daughter because part of me feels like if I don’t, I would be doing her a great disservice. I guess it’s a mixture of guilt and possibly remnants of some feelings of abandonment I experienced in my own childhood that cause me to feel like I need to overcompensate with her. This is how it played out during out latest excursion:
Mya-Where are we going, Mom?
Me-I’ll tell you when we get there.
Mya-But you know I hate secrets…(whines a little).
Me-It’s not a secret, you’ll know when we get there.
Mya-(Huffs and puffs) Tell me, Mom.
Me-(Ignores the request and keeps driving)
Mya-(Eventually stops asking)
So, we get to Young’s Dairy (a local ice cream, food and fun place) and she is all excited and happy that we’ve arrived at someplace she actually enjoys. You’d think it would be enough to be at a place she likes. You’d be dead wrong. So, our conversation continues and goes something like this:
Mya-Can we play putt-putt?
Me-After we eat dinner.
Mya-Ok, but I’m not hungry.
Me-This is dinner and we are going to eat now.
Mya-But, I’m not hungry….ok, get me chicken nuggets and applesauce.
We sit, we eat. We leave. We head toward the miniature golf course. We play one round of golf. Surprisingly uneventful. Except for that part where she lobs her ball into the water and we have to finish out the last four holes sharing a ball. No big deal. When we are finished, we are leaving the golf place and she says to me:
Mya-Let’s go over there so we can do more stuff.
Mya-There’s games over there, Mom. Please, can we?
Me-(Tired, old and seriously not in the mood for more stuff) Ok, but I’m not spending any more money tonight.
As we near the games, I see the sign that says all games are a token and that each token costs a dollar. Of course, I knew that going in. I buy her $6 worth of tokens because that’s all the cash I have on me and tell her she can have 7 trips down the big slide. Wow! Sure. She is excited for about ten minutes. After she finishes with the slide she has another request.
Mya-Let’s go see the animals.
Mom-You do realize we have to walk all the way over there and our car is all the way over here?
Mya-Yeah, it’s ok. Let’s go.
Reluctantly, I walk to the barn. We see the animals. We take a few pictures and then comes the final request of the evening.
Mya-Mom, can we get ice cream?
Mom-Sure. What do you want?
Mya-Can I get two scoops in a waffle cone?
Mom-Will you be able to eat all of that?
Mya-Yeah, I can.
Mom-Ok. But no whining if it starts melting.
Needless to say, there was melting…and of course, whining. I attempted to deal with the melting ice cream by trying to knock some of it off onto the ground, but succeeded only in losing all of the ice cream in what can only be described as the world’s worst parenting moment. This was met with wailing and sobbing. To which, all of the other patrons fixed their eyes on me and gave me a collective look that said, “What did you do that for?” It was as though I had shot my daughter’s favorite dog.
Some days, I wonder why I even try. And then, I think back to the day that my daughter was born. And I start to tear up a little. Because I know that this must be how God sees me as well. The days when I am talking to Him and asking Him to help me through a difficult situation, but then turn around and do exactly what I swore to Him that I would not do. The days when I cry to Him and plead with Him to just tell me where we’re going. The days when I ask Him to do things that simply don’t make sense and even the days when He doesn’t seem to have delivered on His promises and I am less than a good witness for all that he has already done. And when I think about all of those days that He has picked me up and brushed the dirt off of me and set me back on the path, I feel terrible for ever thinking that I will stop trying to make my little girl happy when she doesn’t appreciate what I’ve done. I can’t know what my efforts will mean to her later. She doesn’t even know what it all means yet, but one day, she’ll think about her mother the way her mother thinks about God. And she’ll say thank you and she’ll mean it. And it will create a space in her heart where love can grow. And this makes it all worth the effort.
Mothers care about their children when no one else will. When we’ve messed up so badly that everyone else hates us, we always know that we can go to our mothers and by the same token, to our Father. We can always go to God. And He will love us, when no one else will.
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.