I thanked my toddler for a tantrum yesterday.
Well, sort of.
She was in her room trying to put socks on while I was in the kitchen washing dishes. She began calling to me, “Mommy, I need help!” and then repeated it over and over, growing all the more frantic with each repetition.
Several times over the course of her shrieking I called back to her, “Ok, I’ll be right there,” or “I hear you; I’ll be there to help you as soon as I’m finished with the dishes” (I was almost done—miracles do happen!). Since I knew she wasn’t physically hurt or in danger (they’re just socks), I didn’t feel the need to rush. But each time I tried to assure her that I understood her need for help and would be there soon, she cut me off with yet another melodramatic plea.
She’s NOT. Even. Listening. To my answer!!! I thought, as my anger and impatience grew.
By the time I made it to her room to solve the crisis of upside-down and twisted socks, I had yelled back across the hallway at her more than once. The whole exchange had lasted less than two minutes. Then I stood in the entrance to her room, hand on the door-frame, and scolded her with far more indignation than any two-year-old deserves:
“You weren’t even listening to know whether I heard you or answered! You just kept yelling again and again when I had already told you I heard you, but you were too busy working yourself up over the problem to hear my answer, and now you’ve gotten yourself so upset that you’re laying here crying on the floor!”
And as I was speaking, God said to me, “Uh-huh. And what is it that you do differently?”
Once again, He showed me how my role is traded with Ella’s when it comes to my interactions with Him.
I’m the screaming toddler on the floor who has worked herself into a tizzy over twisted socks. Ok, oftentimes my tizzies are over much more serious matters. Still, the metaphor applies. I get upset when I can’t immediately make matters go my way, and I cry and carry on to the Lord about my plight.
And sometimes, I am so caught up in my distress and wailing that I don’t even bother to pause and check whether God is answering my cries. I just keep on telling Him how bad I have it, as if He isn’t a caring, listening Father who is always faithful and good. I can’t hear His response over the noise of my fury or sorrow.
And as I watched Ella writhing on the floor, her face tear-stained, unaware that I had even come into the room, it dawned on me that she not only couldn’t hear my answer, she didn’t care whether I had answered. Unless I was on the scene the second she asked me for help, anything I had to say was irrelevant to her. My verbal assurances meant nothing to her. She wanted results.
And so do I.
I’m ashamed to admit that my priorities are just the same when I approach my Lord with a problem.
Fix it, please. Don’t tell me You’ll be here soon or that You hear me.
Yesterday my toddler taught me to stop crying and listen. Listen to my Father’s voice and be assured that He hears me, He understands my frustrations, and He has a plan. It just might not be in the form of immediate action. And that’s ok.
And then I thanked my little girl for teaching me that lesson.