Now that William is mobile and the weather is delicious, our favorite activity is playing in the backyard. We spend hours every day romping around in the grass, swinging in his swing, and chasing the puppers around. William loves to explore and is fascinated by nature. He wants to examine all of the plants up close and has the gentlest touch with even the most delicate of flowers. He will often find leaves or petals on the ground that draw him in and he inevitably scoops them up and tucks them into his palm, treasuring them for as long as they can withstand his grasp.
While he has the run of most of the space, there are a few areas that are off limits, due to the danger factor. I am always with him, of course, steering him in the right direction and away from peril. With so many accessible areas, it is usually easy to distract him away from the areas I don’t want him to go near.
The other day, he noticed the rocky terrain near the gate leading to the front yard. Now, although he is technically mobile, he is far from “expert level.” I still keep a hand on him when we are walking on hard surfaces and uneven ground often trips him up. That said, the rocky area with the giant metal fence post was not a good spot for him to play. Did I mention he was barefoot? He kept pulling my hand in that direction and I repeatedly said, “No,” shaking my head and trying to entice him in another direction. After multiple attempts and multiple refusals, he pitched. a. fit. When it was clear that my mind was not going to be swayed, he dropped himself into the grass in a fit of desperation and wailed, looking over at the rocks while crocodile tears cascaded down his cheeks. He couldn’t understand why I would rob him of the adventure he hungered for. Why would I deny him such joy?? I told him that I understood how upsetting it is when we aren’t able to do what we want, but that I was only protecting him from harm. I explained that I didn’t want him to get hurt and that really, the rocks weren’t that cool anyway. In an effort to redirect his attention, I started pointing out all of the other areas brimming with adventure, but he would have none of it. He continued to cry in the grass, lamenting the fun he was certain he was missing.
After a minute or two, I actually started to chuckle in my mind. I glanced around and looked at everything surrounding us. It was a gorgeous Florida day…there were butterflies fluttering about, flowers waving in the breeze, and puppy dogs chasing dragonflies. There was a hammock beckoning for a lounger, sparkling pool water to splash in, and a shady oak tree providing the perfect respite from the sun’s rays. All of this was accessible and my boy was pitching a fit over a handful of rocks and a metal post. I was just about ready to roll my eyes, when it hit me like a ton of…well…rocks.
He was me.
This is exactly what God has to deal with from me and far more frequently than I would like to admit.
I started to think about how often I pout and stomp my feet when I don’t get my way. How God has surrounded me with countless blessings and the opportunity for unending joy every day and still, I often choose not to see it. I plead for His guidance and protection, but only really want it on my terms. I get frustrated when opportunities pass me by, doors close, relationships end, and I don’t get to do what I want. Rarely does it occur to me in the moment that the limitations I am facing are quite possibly the hand of God saying, “You really don’t want to go there. Trust me. I’m trying to keep you from getting hurt and really, it’s not that cool anyway.” Instead of accepting His provision and giving thanks, I bemoan the unfairness of life. While God is pointing out all of the other things around me that I could be focusing on and finding joy in, I choose instead to sit and cry. God wants to give me the garden and I want the rocks.
The most incredible part of all of this is how God responds to my tantrums. Instead of rolling His eyes and wandering off, He stoops down with me and lets me cry. He gives me unending grace to feel the depth of my frustrations and even comforts me in my sadness. He waits patiently, loves me lavishly, and when I’ve gotten it all out, He ever so gently, brings me back to my feet and guides me back into the garden.
Grace. I don’t deserve it, and yet He gives it. Abundantly.
With that in mind, I viewed my sweet boy with a whole new set of lenses, and felt overwhelming compassion. Instead of rolling my eyes, I sat down in the grass with him. I wiped away his tears, told him that I understood, and let him have his moment. Once his frustrations were fully vented, I offered him my hand and he took it. The garden was waiting and he was now ready to take it all in.
So together we wandered off, hand in hand, and left the rocks behind. He quickly forgot what had transpired, but I still have not. As we moved forward I was humbled by God’s unending grace and thanked Him for the millionth time for loving me so well, that I might shower that same love on my precious baby boy.