Boys do stupid things. Sometimes we like to call it "adventurous" things and I suppose this is true also. But other times there really is no other word more appropriate to use than stupid. ALl of you mother's of boys out there can attest. And yes, I will go ahead and say what you are thinking, my oldest is only four and a half so I am just scratching the surface of stupid. I am at the forefront of what will inevitably a be a long list of a whole lot of crazy that will ensue in my house over the next years. Just wait, you say, just wait until their little bodies are overtaken with a concoction of hormones that will reek all sorts of havoc causing them to make even more rash and unpredictable decisions than before. I know it's coming. I acknowledge that I am completely unprepared and pray, with quite frequency, for my sanity, which I assume will be tested to the limits, in their teenage years.
For now, I have plenty of stupid to go around. Let's name a few shall we;
1) Finding broken shards of glass all over the grass, undoubtedly the result of the "genius" idea dreamed up by Wesley to test the trajectory of my very breakable votives.
2) The periods of "battling" as they call it, aka wrestling, which always ends in a combination of tears and tattling but which carries some sort of magnetic force that pulls them to it despite that it ends poorly EVERY TIME. Albert Einstein couldn't have said it any better, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
3) Oliver yelling, "Mom, come quick Wesley's putting toilet paper in the toilet." This would, under normal circumstances, thrill me considering our month long (probably longer) fight to potty train the kid however when I arrive at the bathroom doorway and I see the mound of toilet paper peeking over the seat I think otherwise.
4) Oliver pretending to be Silver Surfer using Crosby's car seat as a surf board and landing in a puddled mess on the floor after an infraction with our kitchen cabinetry.
There's lots more I could share in this section called, "stupid things my boys have done" but there's not enough time for me to write nor for you to read them all. And usually, as least some of the time, when they run to me with their voices cracking and words disjointed from the hurt, anger, frustration, you fill in the blank with the emotion, I do feel compassion and wrap them in my arms and comfort them as best I can. But then there's the other times, when I am desperately trying to do get something, anything, accomplished (i.e laundry, cooking, cleaning, reading of emails, paying of bills etc.) and I am interrupted by their sad, pathetic, and at times faked cries that I feel a competing emotion. Not one of compassion but acute aggravation and annoyance. Why? I think in my head. Why must you jump from that cushion? Why must you bite your brother? Why must you use the obviously unstable car seat as a surf board? Why? In these moments, I feel very little sympathy and lately I have been bothered by my shortage of compassion. And I have been asking myself that very question, why?
There's an image of God portrayed often in the Bible, one of Him as Father, that I just can't shake. God is referred to as Father over 245 times in the New Testament alone. That's a lot, and I confess I am no brain surgeon but it must carry some weight in our quest to grow in our knowledge of Him. This is an image that, although I had heard it said thousands of times growing up, was blurry and didn't come into focus until I myself, became a parent. Just as you bit by bit turn the kaleidoscope and the shapes lose and then regain focus transforming into newer more colorful and elaborate patterns. So it has been with each stage of parenting giving way to a greater glimpses of God's Father-like character.
At first, when Oliver was a newborn, I was shocked by my love for him in spite of the fact that he did absolutely nothing other than poop, sleep, use me for milk, and pee on me. Newborns don't give much reciprocal love and yet all of us parents comment on the depth and ferocity of our love for them. I knew in the instant he emerged from the womb and they laid his slimy little body on my chest, I could never, would never, no matter what he would or wouldn't do, love this child any less or more than I did in that moment. He was perfect. And he was mine. As the early weeks passed I pondered this very thought in my head and then let it work it's way over to my relationship with the Almighty. If I, weak and frail in my humanity,was capable of such a love how much more God? If I, flawed as I am, can care so deeply for this tiny little being that does nothing to benefit or profit me, how much more does God care for us? Us, all of us. ALL OF US. This image of God as Father, now brought into focus by my new role as mother, made me question all I had been taught about how we "attain salvation"? Could it really be that God denies certain of His children access to Him and others not? Could He really ever turn His back on us if we choose, often because of circumstances far out of our control, not to utter "the prayer?" If I, in my total depravity, could never turn my back on my kids, could the all loving God turn His back on His?
Now as we are well into our toddler and pre-school years I observe, in our older ones, very unique personalities emerging. I also watch as they begin to assert their own independence which can, at times, result in choices I don't fully condone or support. Lucky for me the stakes aren't too high yet. Their choices may result in excess toilet paper in the toilet, or spilt juice, or too much breakfast left on the plate, or broken glass on the grass but it could be a lot worse. And yet, I still at times find this frustration rising within me and, as I mentioned above, I have been asking why? The answer is far from impossible to discover: my compassion is limited, my patience runs out, and quite clearly, I am far from perfect. Then I twist the kaleidoscope and the pattern changes and I see it all more clearly. My perspective changes and comes into focus and I realize God should be, in fact He has every right to be downright frustrated with me. With us all. How many times do we do stupid stuff over and over again expecting the result to be different? Make choices that I imagine make Him shake His head in exasperation? The Bible puts it this way, "As a dog returns to it's vomit, so a fools repeat their folly." And yet His compassion is unlimited, His patience never runs out, and He is perfect. My frustration is rooted in selfishness; why can't you just stop pushing your brother I have to finish the dishes? Or why would you try to climb that and expect not to fall off? Can't you see I am in the middle of something here? God's frustration or anger is righteous, selfless; why do you continue to make choices that lead to death and not life? Why can't you see all I want is what is best for you? If only you knew the depth of my love for you?
Father, expand my vision. Focus my perspective. Make me more like You.