12 November 2008

There have been many times in the two years that I have had the privilege of being Oliver's Mom that the Lord has used parenting moments to teach me beautiful things about His character.

Yesterday was one of those moments.

I was working on cleaning the kitchen in preparation for making supper and Oliver was milling around the downstairs, getting into things, asking for juice and various favors and so on. He was particularly interested in the jar of Halloween candy that was sitting on the countertop (he likes to say in his most delighted, surprised voice, "There it is!" when he sees it). He was asking for candy and I told him that he needed to wait for supper.

A few moments later I came across a bowl full of dumdum suckers that I had had enough with moving from place to place, so I tossed them all in the trash in an effort to gain back a bit of square footage in my kitchen. Oliver saw me do that, and for the next several minutes walked around the downstairs repeating in high and low tones "SU-cker. su-CKER. SU-cker. SUCKERRR."

This was not the time for a sucker. This was time for a healthy (I use this term loosely) supper with Mom and Dad.

I left the room and when I returned, he'd upset the trash can, unwrapped a sucker, and was cheerily enjoying his forbidden fruit.

I know I should have taken it immediately, but I didn't. I let him have a few good sucks and pretended I wasn't looking. (I feel this should be included in my "Not Me Monday" post). Eventually, though, I confiscated the sucker and informed Oliver that after eating supper, he could have one chocolate chip as a treat.

After a few moments of deep grief on account of the now absent sucker, he was placated enough by the chocolate morsel promise to carry on with his milling cheerily.

I left the room a second time to hang up a few things in my closet, and when I returned, he had upset the trash can again and was clinging for dear life to a second sucker.

This was clearly an issue of direct disobedience. No more "Mister pretend-I-don't-notice Guy".

Now, before I tell you what happened next, I feel a bit of explanation will be helpful. Ryan and I believe (and, let me be the first to say that we are not perfect parents!) that in situations like this, rather than prying the object from Oliver's hands, the proper thing to do is to require him to surrender it voluntarily. (It's our two-year-old version of the "confession, repentance, forgiveness" concept).

I confronted Oliver on his offense and asked him to place the sucker in my hand. No dice.

Next, I sent Oliver to his white chair and knelt in front of him (he, of course, is clinging for dear life to his contraband). I sat there facing him for quite a while, with my hand extended, gently explaining his disobedience and why he needed to put the sucker in my hands. He cried and wailed and clung tighter and tighter to his little prize. I remained near him, hand extended, waiting for him to surrender what he thought was everything he could ever want.

As I sat there, watching my sweet child weep over the decision to let go of something he wanted so dearly, I realized that Oliver was not the only one being taught a lesson.


"Oh, Lord, that's me, isn't it? I'm the child, clinging to what I think I need, unable to trust that you have something so much better in store for me."

It was an incredibly convicting moment.

I wondered that evening, what are my suckers? What am I desperately unwilling to give to God? What am I so certain that I need, so unwilling to trust God about, so sure I know the very best for myself?

Oh, my.

One of my greatest "suckers" is the idea of what my family should look like. Several weeks ago, after Claire photographed our family, she and I sat together and looked over the proofs. As we came across one photo of the three of us, it just caught my breath. I had such different ideas of what our family portrait would look like in October 2008 than what it actually does. I thought there'd be a 6-month-old baby girl, or at least the bump of a tummy. I imagined that Ryan and I would have children close together in age. We "planned" that we would just have our children all in the course of a few years, then leave childbearing behind us to focus on parenting only. We've really clung tightly to that, but God has just sat with us, His hand extended, asking us to give our family portrait to Him.

We're learning to do this. There's been a whole lot of kicking and screaming and clinging along the way. But, as we're learning to let go, He's teaching us that He is in control and that Has great plans for us.


Well, after a long time of quietly sitting with Oliver while he wrestled with his choice to obey, he did finally place the sucker in my hand (tears still streaming). Believe it or not, the moment he placed the sucker in my hand, the relief was visible on his face. I commended him for his decision and he thrust himself forward out of the chair and into my arms. Reconciliation is so sweet. :)

And, only a few moments later, Grandma called and invited us to join her for pizza at Mellow Mushroom downtown for dinner! Who could have known what a special treat of good food and fellowship awaited Oliver on the other side of that doggone sucker? :)

Grace & Peace, friends.


achildsjoy said...

Hi Rachel,

I'm not sure how I found your blog, but I just wanted to say that I loved this post. I so needed it. I've lost four babies to miscarriage over the years. We have one amazing daughter who is 2.5 years. I was actually supposed to have a baby right before Thanksgiving this month. God had other plans. Anyway, all that to say..... Today was an especially hard day. One of those days where I've really questioned why things have to be the way they are...why they can't be different. Like you, we also thought our family portrait would look a lot different by now.

We do hold onto our "suckers" don't we? And God desperately wants us to let them go. I recently heard Beth Moore say in one of her videos that "sometimes God's no's are for the greater "yes's" later."

Thanks again for the life lesson. May I willingly, joyfully let the "suckers" go that I'm clinging to.

In Christ,

Christine said...

Great post, Rae. You do such a good job drawing out the analogies. I'm so glad you can be a ministry to people like Heather and to all of us! The Lord knows how tightly I hang onto things, thinking I have the power to do everything myself.

Did the little guy get his chocolate chip? I just feel so badly for him. I know Mom was right, but he worked so hard to get those suckers! And he's so observant!

Claire Wise Photography said...

you have a gift.

Linda Silvey said...

I agree With Claire, you do have a gift. I remember when I miscarried before I became pregnant with Denise. I felt like I was inadequate. I thought I "had" to have a child to be complete. I truly didn't have any idea what it took to find true happiness. That was about 35 yrs ago. A lot has changed since then. Those early yrs were tough in many ways, but they helped make me strong. They also gave me great joy as God blessed me with 3 wonderful children, and eventually 4 stepchildren (whom I love as if they were my own), and now 3 precious grandchildren.
In the last few years I've come to the realization, that what matters most, is not how much money I have, or how nice my home is, or how many designer clothes I have. It's not even how many friends I have.
What matters most is that I am still sharing my life with the man of my dreams; the one who always sees the best in me; my best friend; the one I can't wait to spend each day with; my partner through thick and thin;
my best half.....the half that completes me.
And when we are old...we will be all that we have. This relationship will be what matters most....it will not be enough to just love one another.....we will have to like each other to have purpose.

Your relationship is precious.
Take time to enjoy each other and the wonderful gifts you've both been given... and in your old age...this will be what matters most.

Thanks, Raechel, for being such an inspiration to so many people. In your practice as a doula, you will see miracles happen.
You make a difference.
Love, Aunt Linda

Tracy said...

I really needed this today. :)