I have often wondered, since becoming a parent, if God views us the way we view our own children. If you are a mother, I know you remember laying eyes on your child for the first time; the overwhelming love felt almost painful for me. Or when your child has a scraped knee and your parental kiss fixes the discomfort inexplicably. Or when your kid finally understands a math concept, you celebrate their victory with pure joy!
Do you think God sees us this way? I have had a couple of experiences as a parent that posed the question of how God must feel about His children’s victories and falters. First example, a victory. My oldest daughter is very cautious and somewhat nervous to try new things. Letti had little interest in ever riding a bike, even with training wheels. One day, our neighbors were out with their boys, and one of them offered his bicycle to Letti to take a ride. I watched from afar, and Letti hopped right on! My momma heart was so excited and happy for her! Letti promptly ran to me, exclaiming she needed a bike for her birthday! The day her birthday came, an 18-inch Barbie bike and helmet were gifted! Letti FLEW down the sidewalk! The pride I felt for my sweet girl was palpable. I couldn’t believe she faced her fear after a trusted, sweet friend gave her a pep talk to try something new.
When we master a task God has placed on our hearts, does He well up with pride? Did He send the Holy Spirit to us for a pep talk? Since God created us in His image, is there any element of surprise in our accomplishments? Or is He happy we finally followed through and succeeded because He knew we were capable the entire time?
Second example, a falter. My first-born appears to fit her birth order very well. My sweet “Letti bug” has the biggest heart! Letti is truly the kindest and most considerate child I have met. Don’t get me wrong, she bickers with her sister and occasionally is impatient. However, the first-born tendencies of people-pleasing and following rules are strong traits of hers. To my surprise, she lied to me recently. Even though I know it is human nature to lie, and I am responsible for teaching her right from wrong, I was still shocked when the lie was told. After all, the lie was about carrots.
My girl is a picky eater. Letti’s father and I have started making her take a few bites of veggies, despite her not liking them. While we have found some vegetables Letti tolerates more than others, there are plenty she finds “disgusting,” as she describes them. One evening after dinner, she had three baby carrots to finish. Letti asked if she could take them to the living room to eat while she played on her tablet. At some point, she went to the bathroom and returned to the tablet. Letti hollered to me that she finished her carrots. After a quick praise, I asked if she would like anything else to eat, and she requested a few chips. I gave her a small bowl of chips and returned to dinner clean-up. My husband went to hang up the hand towel in the bathroom to dry, as Letti can’t reach the bar where it belongs. An orange colored object in the trash can caught Monte’s eye. Monte called me into the bathroom, where he had pulled out an empty toilet paper roll where two carrots rested inside.
I was not only shocked but devastated. I took a couple minutes to discuss with my husband the course of action we should take. My husband wanted to address the lie the next day at dinner, when he thought Letti would ask to finish her vegetables away from the table. For a moment, I agreed, as this lie was just about carrots. But, quickly, I changed my mind. I decided I wanted to handle Letti’s behavior choice in the present. I felt the learning opportunity would be greater. I prayed to God for guidance. I didn’t want to mess this up!
We called Letti to the bathroom, where we had placed the carrots on the counter. Letti was surprised, herself, at what she saw. She quickly went to pick them up to eat them, thinking she would avoid the talk altogether. I softly asked her to put them in the trash can, as they were dirty, and to come sit with me. She started to cry before I even began talking. I told Letti I loved her; she quietly cried crocodile tears. Big, warm, wet tears. I had to swallow hard a few times myself. I really wanted to brush this whole situation off. Letting the lie go would have been much easier.
I let Letti know lying isn’t okay. Even lying about small things, while it may appear innocent at first, can lead to lying about much bigger things. Lying could keep my daughter from coming to me about life’s “big stuff” and the “scary stuff.” I was fully aware that how I handled myself in that conversation was crucial to how she may or may not feel I am approachable in the future. I remained calm and let her know if she didn’t want to eat the carrots, she needed to talk to her father and me about them. Talking to her parents could have been a constructive way to formulate a new plan, offer a different vegetable, or discuss the reasons why she is asked to do something. I told Letti her dad and I would always be willing to talk to her when she wanted and needed. We reiterated that her thoughts, needs, and opinions matter, but we can’t help her if she doesn’t feel comfortable coming to us.
Letti ended up snuggling up with us, and we established a new rule: veggies must be eaten at the table without distraction. We decided we would give her two vegetable choices for dinner, and she could pick which veggie she preferred to eat. While we still get some frustrated looks and whining over vegetables, Letti hasn’t lied again about eating them. The only vegetable to bring on tears since the carrot charade has been green beans! Thankfully, the tears came due to the squishy texture and not a lie!
I struggle to understand what led Letti to tell that white lie. Perhaps the desire to not eat those “disgusting” carrots? Was she too busy playing on her tablet? Did she just not want to deal with Mom and Dad? I have wondered how God must feel when we commit sin and fall short of His expectations. What may seem like a white lie initially is a trap of the devil. Why not cry out to the Father when we don’t understand what we are going through? We know He loves us! We know we can have faith in Him, especially when we are going through uncomfortable experiences!
To my Letti, the carrots were not an enjoyable experience. Instead of relying on her parents when she needed to, knowing the answer may not be what she wanted or desired, she took the easy way out by lying. When my child lied to me, I was CRUSHED. Does God—as our Father—feel the same when we make mistakes? Does He feel the same devastation I do as a mother when my child veers off on her own away from me? Just as I forgive and love my daughter when she falls short, I know God loves and forgives me when I do. I guess what I’m trying to tell you is, I must embarrassingly admit, I never put the thought together that when I sin, I am CRUSHING God’s heart. I, of course, have repented and been unbelievably sorry for my wrong actions; however, to really feel the pain on the receiving end of Letti’s lie was so very heavy. To imagine I have done the same to my God, who loves me unconditionally, was such a somber place to find myself. I sobbed so many apologies to God that night as I attempted to sleep.
All because of carrots, I put more thought into the words I’m choosing to speak, what I allow my mind to dwell on, and my actions. I love God, I love His Son, and I want the Holy Spirit to speak to me. I feel so disappointed for all my mistakes. Despite the sadness my actions have brought to God, what an amazing feeling it is to know that when I confess my sins, repent, and ask for forgiveness, He forgives me and ALWAYS loves me. My prayer is that my daughter will always know I love her, I want what’s best for her, and I will accept her apology. (Just as God does!)
As a parent, I have put rules and routines into place to keep her safe, teach her, and guide her. God has done much the same for me by His Word in the Bible. While I falter and have victories, I plan to run to Him, listen to Him, and worship Him! I am so grateful for His teachings, His patience, and the love He has for all His children.
His Blessed Child,