Family and Parenting Jewels
Today I was reminded that “resistance is futile” by my strong-willed toddler. Resistance to God’s will is futile, not because He wants us to become uniform robot people who all say the same phrase in a scary monotone voice like the Borg in Star Trek, but because He wants to bless us. We resist His will because it is not our own, and we think we know what’s best for ourselves. So many times I have tried to force things to happen the way I want or have planned. It’s difficult to let go of control, but today was one of those days that I saw God’s will play out in my life in small but significant ways, and definitely not in the way I had planned.
It started off with trying to leave my 19-month-old daughter, Etta, in the nursery so that I could sing in the choir during the service. She is usually pretty good about going and if she does get upset she gets over it quickly. Today was different. I don’t know if she was extra tired or not feeling well, but she clung to my leg as if her life depended on it. Could I have pried her off and walked out while she wailed behind me? Yes, but something was telling me to just go with it and not force my plan. So I took her with me to the front of the church to sit with the choir. She did fine with me during the first part of the service, and then we went up for the children’s message..her first one, since she’s usually in the nursery! The pastor (my husband, Ryan) was talking about Zacchaeus, and as an illustration to the children he had all of them line up in front of the congregation. Then he picked a little one to be Zacchaeus, and that person happened to be Etta! She was to stand behind the line of kids, and Ryan asked the congregation if they could see her. They said no, and he asked, “What could we do to be able to see her?” And as people pondered the question and began giving ideas, Etta snuck through her 9-year-old brother’s legs as if he was a bridge and popped out in front of the line. Everyone started cracking up. It was great comic relief and helped Ryan make his point about Zacchaeus not being able to see Jesus because the crowd did not allow him to. Zacchaeus did not have a brother in the crowd to sneak past, so he climbed a tree instead. And even though he was invisible to the crowd (or worse than invisible, even despised), Jesus saw him.
After this, I was able to take Etta to the nursery half-way through and join in singing the special choir song that we worked so hard to prepare for the congregation. That was about the only time she went along with what I wanted her to do. The rest of the morning was full of changing plans to accommodate my strong-willed toddler, not getting to participate in things that I planned to do, but being blessed by what God was obviously directing me to do instead: conversations with people, getting to listen to the special choir song in the second service rather than participate, getting to take communion when I had missed it earlier, etc.
When I got home from church, I thought about how the morning could have been extremely frustrating and upsetting had I resisted. Honestly, I still felt frustrated by the constant changing of plans and flexibility I was forced into. But God opened my eyes to the blessings he was giving to me, blessings that never would have happened had things gone according to my plan.
When Jesus was waiting in the garden for his betrayal and crucifixion to take place, he said, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) Jesus could have refused God’s plan, but “for the joy set before him he endured the cross,” (Heb. 12:2) taking our unwillingness with him.
I do not always see the “joy set before [me]” when God is leading me in His will. To me it looks messy and disorganized and frustrating. But what comes out of it is the blessings He desires to give us, which are so much greater than anything we could plan for ourselves. “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9) Thank the Lord that He is in charge and that He can use a strong-willed toddler to move a strong-willed adult like me to see His will!