“Come near to God and He will come near to you." James 4:8
It takes some serious mind-control to drop my kids off in the “play” area. I drop them off in the kid-zoo, wondering just how long I can enjoy my independence before someone informs me my kid is crying, being bitten or has wrestled some poor, unfortunate toddler to the ground. I shove in my ear-buds to drown out the mom-paranoia in my mind. I step off the treadmill feeling proud and accomplished because I’ve managed to get one more treadmill 5k under my belt. My kids attack me as the child watch lady requires a signature, Joseph is showing me his new sticker, and Jacob is talking about a new friend. Chaos.
Both kids in the seat, I pull out, windows down, music playing, because why not? I’ve run 20 miles this week and it’s time to celebrate. But my joy comes to a screeching halt when I hear Joseph screaming. I turn the music down because I can’t understand him, when Jacob says, “He wants the windows up.” As they go up, Joseph’s prized sticker flies out of the window, or maybe it possibly flies into a crevice in the car. I don’t know what’s happening, I just hear blood-curdling screams as we pull in the driveway. I unlock him from his car seat to comfort him, but he says, “No kiss.” “Why?” I ask. “Because I lost my sticker.”
He’s not interested in consolation. Still, I carry my tired JoJo to his bed. It’s hard to love on a mad child who doesn’t want to be loved. He wriggles, fights and screams, but as I lower myself into the rocking chair and start to rock, the rhythm calms his spirit. Mine is relieved too, and I recall my husband’s illustration of an animal caught in a foot trap. The suffering animal is alone and in excruciating pain when a man comes along to rescue him from the trap. But the animal reacts so violently that the man cannot help it. He has to leave him to suffer.
As I hold my son, I realize I often react like a trapped animal when I’m hurting. I wonder how many times Jesus has tried to offer me consolation only to be pushed away by a stubborn, disappointed, angry girl? I wonder how many times I’ve blamed Him for circumstances that were not His doing, or for living out the consequences of my bad decisions. How many times have I met the Lord’s compassion with rude selfishness?
When Joseph was a toddler, he lashed out at me because he was upset. He wasn’t really mad AT me, but he treated me like I was the cause of his sorrow because he was still in the stage of life where it was my job to make it better. That day in the rocker, I realized I often act like a child with my heavenly Father. When I’m upset, I want Him to fix it, to make it better, or to change my situation or circumstances. And if He doesn’t, I wonder if He’s still good or if He still loves me. Do you do this too?
I call this the Blame Game. When I get hurt, I blame and run AWAY. I’m not talking about losing my faith, I’m talking about feeling like it’s His fault my life isn’t turning out like I wanted, and so I pull back my trust, put up my guard and decide I could do a better job. This may have been fine when I was a toddler in my faith, but at some point, Jesus wants me to learn how to grow up in my disappointment. Instead of withdrawing, His hope is that I’ll learn to re-examine my attitude, repent, and run TO Him instead of AWAY from Him.
It’s all about where I’m putting my trust. If a crisis causes me to draw into myself instead of into the Lord, I won’t ever learn how to let Him heal me. An unhealed heart will habitually begin to blame God for it’s struggles and problems and the owner of that heart becomes an irresponsible baby who is unable to own up to the consequences of his or her own sin.
When my boys were toddlers, I prayed they would “grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). I still pray this over them, but I also pray it over myself. I don’t want to be a spiritual toddler, blaming God for my pain when He’s trying to help me. I don’t want to lash out at God’s grace, like an animal with it’s foot caught in a trap. Instead, I’ve become even more thankful that Jesus continues to pray for me and love me when I am rude. I’m beyond blessed to serve a God who is Love when I am not loving in return.
About the Author:
Sharie serves the ministry as a speaker, traveling to universities, churches, camps and ladies events across the country. She is also an active writer and blogger.
Sharie was born and raised in Atlanta, GA where she gave her heart to Jesus when she was just 11 years old. At 12, she surrendered her life to ministry.
As a wife and ministry partner to Clayton, Sharie helped build the organization, working in multiple capacities since 1997.
She has written four books, co-authoring two with Clayton: 12 Questions to Ask Before You Marry, andThe Beauty and the Mystery. She and Clayton also partnered with Lifeway to develop a curriculum for students based on their book True Love Project, recognized by Christian Retailers as the Best Non-Fiction in 2015. True Love Project (40 Days of Purity for Girls) also complements this piece.
Sharie also serves their children, Jacob and Joseph, as a full-time teacher, homeschooling the boys. She loves to paint, read and thrives outdoors!