“Morgan, you’ve had enough candy for now. We’re going to be eating dinner soon, so please put the lollipop back in the bag. And remember, the rule is you have to ask first.”
My 3-year-old niece was kneeling on top of a bar stool, head burrowed into a giant bag of Halloween candy lying on the high kitchen counter. The reason she was in the sweet stuff at all was because I was babysitting the kids and we all know an Aunt’s number one job is spoiling. Therefore, my only requirement was for the kids to ask permission first, with a promise to mostly say yes. (Sorry, not sorry, brother and sis-in-law)
Morgan, in her adorableness and daintiness, placed the lollipop back in the bag in full compliance, although her face said otherwise. Poor kid. Meanwhile I moved the candy to the back of the main kitchen counter, out of sight and reach.
After dinner, I asked all five kiddos to pick up the zillion playthings scattered across every square inch of the family room. We were going to build a huge fort and needed a clear working space. My niece wasn’t too interested in the cleaning up project. Instead, she played with her toys while enacting the toddler superpower of pretending not to hear a single word of my verbal requests. All while having a make-believe conversation with her Lego people.
After several attempts to get her attention, I told her I was going into the garage for a minute and when I came back, she needed to be helping her brothers put away toys or miss out on the fort activity. Her superpower wore off because she tried following me into the garage while whine-pleading her case.
“Listen, Sweetie, go pick up your toys and when I get back in the house we’ll build an awesome fort and have a ton of fun playing inside it. Okay?”
“Slaaam.” That was the loudish sound the garage door made after her 3 yr. old arms shoved it closed behind me. I chuckled as I finished up what I was doing in, imagining my niece picking up toys with her small pint attitude.
“What the…?” I said out loud when trying to turn the door handle and go back in the house. “Are you kidding me?” I laughed. “She locked me out!” Lucky for all of us, she wasn’t mighty enough to slam the door shut, so even though the handle wouldn’t turn, I was able to push my way in.
I headed into the kitchen, and there she was. My precocious niece wasn’t picking up toys at all. Instead, she was kneeling on the same candy-getting bar stool she’d pushed all the way around the outside bar area, into the main kitchen space, and up against the interior counter. Think, round belly squished against the countertop and cherub face two inches deep into a not-so-out-of-reach candy bag.
As soon as my little rascal sensed my presence, she whipped her head around to look at me. A wild mess of curls outlined an obvious look of red-handed guilt and bewilderment over how I got back in the house. We stared at each other for a solid 15 seconds; not a single word uttered between us.
Instead, I invoked the adult superpower of raising one eye-brow to send a message. As if by magic, my little sweet pea crawled off the stool, pushed it all the way back around to the outside of the kitchen counter, walked into the family room, and put all her toys away in complete silence.
“Thank you, Morgan.”
And the rest of the evening went as planned. The fort building was a blast and the six of us spent an hour inside our covered cave watching silly kid videos and laughing til our sides hurt.
Funny how these experiences with kids teach us a lot about ourselves and how we relate to Jesus. My niece knew the candy rule and was well aware of what she needed to do to play in the fort. Yet, in both cases she decided to do things her way instead of mine.
How often do we take the same approach with Jesus?
We pretend we don’t hear Him and sometimes even shut Him out because we think our way is the better way. Giving up control is too scary, Lord, I know I should trust you, but what if my kid…my marriage…my job… Or we feel commandments are too unrealistic and difficult to follow, Love that guy? You’ve got to be kidding?
We feel better getting the candy (answered prayer) when we want it, and we’re willing to put in the work (follow Him) when it’s convenient and makes sense according to our schedule and level of understanding. Then Jesus invokes His superpower: a loving gaze coupled with a gentle finger press straight into our heart. Both tell us, “You know what you need to do. I don’t need to say a word.”
These moments don’t always feel good. Often, His convictions hurt quick to the core because of revealed sin, other times having to wait for answers to prayer causes drawn-out distress. But, just like I told my niece, “I can’t let you eat that candy now or it will spoil your dinner,” Jesus says to us, “I can’t answer your prayer the way you want right now, or it will spoil the real feast I’ve planned for later.”
Learning to trust Him by feeding on His promises in the Gospels is a surefire way to keep our head out of the candy bag. Obedience always leads to getting a taste of the sweetness when we should, not when we want. And let’s not forget Jesus’ number one job as our Savior is also spoiling—spoiling us with Love. And love always knows what’s best.
Let’s let Him Love us, crazy Mommas!
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