The Lesson

Over the last week I have been angry with God. The last 18 months or so, I have been doing “the next right thing” and it has not been easy. But life is supposed to be good if you do right, right? Nope. In fact, my whole life has flipped upside down and still appears to be slowly going to crap. I keep taking the high road but I still wind up walking through hell. I mean walking through hell with gasoline drawers on!

So I decided that I was not going to talk to God. I call it beefing. “Me and God are beefing,” I said to myself. He and I have been here before so it is not new to Him. It always occurs when the script I wrote for my life is in direct conflict with His plan for me.

Yesterday, a friend asked me, “How are you g-d getting along today?” My reply was, “We are patiently not speaking to each other. Kind of how your kid won’t speak to you, but expects you to make breakfast.” But as it turns out, I talk to God a lot, about EVERYTHING. Rarely a 10 minute period in my day goes by that I am not talking to Him or asking Him about or complaining to Him about something happening in my life. I talk to Him as I fall asleep at night and again as I wake up in the morning. Not talking to Him was a bigger punishment to me than it was to Him.

It was during this time of silence that my 6 year old daughter had her first open act of rebellion about finishing homework. She is entering first grade in two days, so I admit I thought I would have a few years before I had to endure protests about completing assignments. But then again, at 2 ½ years old she introduced to her husband so… lets just say she is a bit advanced.

Her assignment was to draw a picture of her favorite summer reading book and write one sentence. She completed similar assignments for every weekend of her Kindergarten career, so what was going on today? Not only does this child devour reading, but she draws as if she was born to do it so the protesting caught me off guard.

“It is too hard,” she whined. Her face was in full pout, her arms were folded tight against her chest in defiance mode and she pushed her papers to the far end of the table. She even put her hands over her face and made crying sounds. This kid meant business.

I explained to her that we would not do anything else we planned for the day until the assignment was complete. We would not move forward until the lesson was done. “When you are ready to start again, let me know and I will be ready to help.” Then I picked up the closest paperback novel and slid back on the couch.

This is contrary to the way I was raised. As a child, I would have been told what to do and if I didn’t do it the punishment would have arrived in the form of a brown leather belt. I knew I did not want to do that to her. I did not want to force her into doing it because I was bigger than her. I wanted her to do it because she wanted to do it.

Without a word, I sat patiently on the couch pretending to read. The little girl in my heart told me, “She is scared because it is tough. She has never done it before and she thinks it will not be good enough. She does not know she can do it. She is afraid she will fail.”

I sat there patiently on the couch and I shut my mouth. I did not threaten. I did not fuss. Not a single word passed my lips for twenty minutes. And once she was certain I would not be moved by the tantrum, a small voice came from beneath a cloud of curls. “Mommy, can we try it again? Will you help me if I try again?”

“Yes, Baby. Lets read the instructions again and see what we need to do.” And so I did what I said. I read the instructions, this time reminding her, “like we did last time” or “like we did the time we drew the Little Bill book.” I saw her reach for a pencil and an eraser and begin to draw a ponytail.

When the assignment was almost complete, I excused myself and went into the other room. From the other room, I could hear her sing while she finished the drawing. She was filled with joy to complete something that just an hour ago left her frustrated beyond belief.

The true lesson was not for her, it was for me. I began to give thanks that God takes care of me like I take care of my child. That He is not moved by my tantrums. That He is not swayed by my fear. I began to weep because it became clear that He calls me forward to do what He already knows I am capable of doing in the first place – not by bullying me – but with care and kindness and patience greater than any I have ever known. I gave thanks that He would be kind enough to show me this lesson through the amazing little girl that I teach even as she teaches me.