"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you."
Jeremiah 29: 11-12 (NIV)
He stands in front of the dresser, feet planted solidly on the carpeted floor, a contrast of soft and tender, baby and boy, daring her with his eyes.
"Do you need help?"
The sturdy legs are clad in khaki pants, elastic band loose on his tiny frame, his tiny, fiercely independent frame. He has them pulled just up to the little nub of his bellybutton. She knows that precious in-and-out fold of flesh, that once-connection between them.
Not even three years. It hasn't even been three years since she gently cleaned and dressed the little birth-wound, as she had his brothers before him. Memories of ivory soap and baby lotion. Yet here he was, dressing himself. Pants on completely backwards. One arm in the neck, one arm in the sleeve, the shirt twisted across his shoulder and under his chest.
She smiles at the little-boy-voice saying those I-can-do-it-myself words. It's that fine-line time - the time when independence stands toe to toe with need. When helpless spars with able. When babyhood lets go and boyhood begins. She's seen it before, has worked her way through it with the two older brothers. Is still working her way through with the older brothers. And now this one.
Still smiling, she walks into the room, busying herself with this or that - folding and fluffing, picking up, putting down. Busying herself with little things so she will be available when the not yet turns to Mommy, please. Because she knows it will. But not yet. He's right; he needs to try, to learn, to grow. So she makes herself available to help when he's ready.
A friend of mine shares little snippets of life with her four boys. Precious life with her boys and her Army-chaplain husband. She understands the balance between doing for and letting do, between what-will-people-think and how-will-my-child-feel, between teaching independence and learning entitlement. The end of this story? I helped with his shirt but the neckhole is huge now and he is still wearing his pants backwards.
Can you picture God? Our heavenly Father, a parent? He sees us, tangled up and inside out.
He says "Do you need help?"
And sometimes we plant our feet on the floor and just want to do it ourselves.
But our God, our amazing, wonderful God... he knows us. He smiles. He walks around our lives folding and fluffing, picking up and putting down. He waits. Patiently. For us to grow. For us to learn.
For us to ask.
Do you see him managing that fine line between doing for us and allowing us to learn to do on our own?
Sometimes he has to let us fail. Sometimes we don't get exactly what we want. Sometimes we get stuck.
Sometimes we just have to walk around with our pants on backwards.
Heavenly Father, in every sense of the word,
Thank you for loving us so much that you don't always make our lives easy;
you don't always clean up our messes. You make us do it.
And with your help, your strength, your wisdom, and your son, we are able.
Linking with Three Word Wednesday, and TellHisStory
Note: My daughter and I had the joy and privilege of getting to know the family in this story when we hosted a small bible-study group at our home while my husband was deployed. At the time, 'Mom' had two boys and was expecting the one in the picture. The army moved them shortly after he was born, and then 'Dad' was deployed shortly after the move. We keep in touch through Facebook. This morning I am thinking about this family - now four boys - separated yet held together. It is another kind of line, that separation.
Would you join me in praying for them and others like them - praying that the family grows together across the distance of miles and circumstance, that they are surrounded and supported by the love and kindness of friends, that they are safe - emotionally and physically, and that they remain spiritually strong and resilient in the face of trials.