By Alison Andreasen
There we were. Two people of two different sizes sitting on the bathroom floor, one of us in tears and the other on the verge. I had asked my young daughter to do something. My “something” was not the “something” she wanted to do and we were at a standstill. Head to head. Someone was going to get her way and we were both determined to be triumphant.
I tried what I could to hasten the obedience I asked of her. My empathy was met with anger; my explanation was met with disdain. My attempts at comforting her made her cringe and my giving her space while I checked on other children was irksome. It was clear that at that moment, it wasn’t about me or what I did or didn’t do. This was her battle. No one else could do it for her, but one thing was sure--she did want me there. So there we sat.
Her internal struggle showed itself on the outside. Expressions of anger that I even suggested she do something other than what she wanted were replaced with questioning looks that seemed to say, “Why would you ask me to do something so hard?”
Just as I was about to answer the unspoken question, a burst of stubbornness erupted and I prepared myself for the coming act of disobedience and the subsequent consequence I would have to speak to the little girl whom I love so dearly. But, alas, it didn’t come. She just hunkered back down in contemplation.
I could have forced her do what I wanted and gone on with the rest of my day. After all, I had dishes to do, laundry to fold, food to fix, and other kids to play with. But today was too important. The struggle she faced--of whether or not to trust and obey me--is what mattered, and I could not help but think that our future would be better for allowing her to fight this battle today.
And so I waited. And reflected. She had physically heard my voice, not a stranger’s, and was considering what I had said. I prayed that from our history together she knew I wanted the best for her, not what would destroy or harm her. I prayed that the God who grants wisdom to His children would do so for her. I considered all the times that she had disobeyed in the past and the ache I felt when she didn’t trust me; when she allowed her stubbornness to reign and when she failed to see that by following her own path, she actually chose a much more difficult road.
And then she obeyed. All of a sudden, the little girl who had been on the bathroom floor in deep contemplation got up, took a deep breath, wiped her tears with her fists and obeyed--doing exactly what I had asked her to do. And I was nothing short of proud!
She is my child and I love her. I would have loved her even if she had disobeyed, but at that moment, I was utterly proud. I saw how difficult it was for her to trust my words. I saw how hard it was for her to set her own desires aside and her inability to understand why I would ask her to do anything different than what she wanted. Her sacrifice was noble. I was very proud.
As we sat hugging on that bathroom floor, one of us was crying and this time it wasn’t her. You see, I know all too well the struggle she just faced. I, too, am a child of someone. He made me His own and I know His voice because He speaks to me through His word and sacraments. Some days I don’t want to hear His voice. I love it when, through His spoken word, He says He loves me, but I loathe when He tells me to do something I don’t want to do. Sometimes I want to do what I want to do. I get angry and I question. I want Him to leave me alone, only to realize that I do indeed want Him there and that I owe my entire existence to His grace, care, and presence. He loves me. I know because He has led me into faith, sustained that faith, and sees Christ’s perfection when He sees me. Christ was perfectly obedient, even unto death. The things with which I struggle and fail are the exact things that Christ does perfectly for the salvation of the world. He cared for me even before I knew of Him, when He sacrificed His very life for mine.
I know what it is like, little one. We are fighting the same fight and by His grace, He will increase in us the fruits of the Spirit. Let us go together to His Word where we hear His voice. Let us familiarize ourselves with it--knowing its tone, its inflections, its compassion and its power. May He forgive us for Jesus’ sake when we disobey or doubt His love and care for us. May He strengthen us through His Spirit to trust that His ways are best and to find delight in them until He makes us perfect. And as we do, may you see me, your mother, as a dim reflection of our God the Father who is compassionate and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Alison Andreasen is a wife of one, mother of three, and teacher of many. She lives in rural South Dakota where she enjoys life on the prairie as a dual parish pastor’s wife. A trained Lutheran school teacher and homeschooling mom, she has a passion for children’s education, especially education in the Christian faith. She is a brainstormer by nature and those who are close to her never know what new idea she will think of next. Recent adventures with her family have included tapping trees to make syrup; creating, expanding, and selling her own granola business; and learning to preserve fresh garden goodness for year-round use.