Today was a day I knew was coming, have been dreading, and was hoping I was somehow the one parent who wouldn’t have to experience it…the great Mexican Stand off. Okay, so I have no idea why it’s called a “Mexican” standoff. Maybe it’s not even called that. Regardless, Baby Girl decided this morning was a great time to put her foot DOWN.
It was a typical morning. I went in to get her up, we greeted each other with smiles and hugs, we went to the kitchen and she started her breakfast. Cheerios, she happily took and started gobbling. She asked for some banana, I gave some to her and she happily ate it up. But then…she asked for some milk. I poured it for her, and as I had been doing, told her to say please, which she did, and then I told her to say “thank you” after I handed it to her. She grabbed it without saying a word. I repeated myself in my sing song voice, “Corrie, say ‘thank you!'” Silence.
So I took the milk back from her tray. She. LOST. it.
I said “Corrie, just say thank you!” This has not been a battle before. She has always cheerfully obliged. She knows how to say it, she often even volunteers it without being prompted. Not today.
Thus began over an hour of crying, screaming, and defiance (yes that was her. Thankfully I was able to refrain from any of that, though it started to get tempting). She screamed to get down. She screamed for her milk. She told me she was “all done.” I continued to repeat, “just say thank you.” “You need to say thank you.” At one point she flat out said “NO.”
In the madness I went through a cycle of my own. At first it was honestly a little bit funny. The wailing over not wanting to say thank you just seemed humorous. But then as she dug her heels in more and more it started to break my heart. She was so…angry. She was so hard hearted. And clearly, though she didn’t know it, she was just confused.
She could not understand how little I was asking of her. She didn’t know that it was such a simple submission and she really wasn’t losing herself in giving in to me. At one point I stood over her and just prayed and it struck me, this is the heart of God in wanting my obedience.
When I do my own thing and demand my own way He is heartbroken, yet resolved. He will not allow me to do my own thing forever. As He disciplines me He is urging me to see that I can trust Him, that He LOVES me, and that He is in charge. I could see how much He longs for me to follow Him, how much my good is His desire, how compassionate He is. I hated to see my baby girl so upset. I hated to see her physically struggling and fighting to get out of her chair, to be in control. It hurt my mama heart. Yet I also have such a longing for her to learn to trust me, to learn that she is not the center of the world, that she isn’t the boss– and that’s for her own good. God seemed so tender to me as I was struggling with my child, calling out to Him for wisdom, calling out to Him to help my little girl.
It started me thinking about obedience and why it is so hard. We are so fearful that we are going to lose out on something if we give up our control. We are so fearful that if we stop promoting and protecting ourselves that somehow God is going to get it wrong and we are going to end up hurt, uncomfortable, or unsatisfied. Yet the truth is there is an inherent blessing in obedience. If my Father’s rules are not arbitrary, but are set to help me live the most abundant life (by His wondrous definition), then obeying Him is not a drudgery or a path to misery or something to be feared, but quite the opposite. Most of the time the things I tell Corrie are to protect her from something. Sure there are some rules about taking her shoes off before climbing on the couch that are more so to protect the couch, but even in that obedience she is learning to trust me, which is crucial for the times when it IS about her directly. She creates a habit of trust that will come into play in bigger and more crucial ways as she grows up- “Corrie stay by Mama’s side”, “Corrie stop at the sidewalk”, “Corrie don’t go there alone”, “Corrie …” As she trusts me I am training her up for life on her own in a world where she truly is not the center of everything, can not have everything she wants, and will need to learn both independence and dependence.
My heavenly Father is likewise instilling obedience and trust in me. He is training me how to live in His world, to bring about His kingdom, to love as He loves and to know that He is the worthy center of the world, not me. He knows that it is for my good that He is there, not me.
I pray every night as I lay my daughter in her bed that God gives me wisdom to know how to teach my baby girl, and that He would help her to “Obey her mother and father in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). Today’s episode encourages me not only to keep praying this for her, but to also pray for myself to earnestly follow my Father’s lead, even when my nature wants to fight it, wants to assume authority, or is fearful of where obedience may take me. I pray that when times come to follow God in ways that I am afraid of, that I will remember today and remember God’s loving, tender heart that works for my own good, the way that I care for my own baby girl. He is growing me, He is making me useful, and He has purposes that are higher for me than what I have for myself.