Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Three Year Olds and Obedience

I've learned a lot about God through being a mom.  Katie Davis, a missionary in Uganda who adopted fourteen girls, writes this about her little 3 year old daughter Grace, and it sums up one of those lessons really well:

"I don't exactly remember when it started.  One day, Grace simply would not get into the bathtub.  So I didn't make her.  I let her get in bed dirty that night.  The fight just wasn't worth interrupting everyone else's bedtime.  But on the second night, I couldn't ignore her again.  She really needed that bath. 

So we began the struggle, and it continues to this day.  Night after night, we go through the same motions. The scene unfolds like this:  I ask Grace to get into the bathtub, to which she quietly replies, "I don't want."  I, in my kindest, sweetest Mommy voice, explain to her that she is three years old, that she doesn't always know what is best for her, and that she does not always get what she wants...  She simply looks at me, not understanding at all what I am trying to say. 

Not to be deterred, I try a different approach, saying excitedly, "Come on, Gracie! Let's go play in the bathtub!"  At this point she blinks her eyes very fast, ad big crocodile tears begin to run down her cheeks, another plea for sympathy.  When she sees that her tears are not getting her anywhere, she begins to shriek, "No bath, no bath, no bath!"  as if the water would melt her. 

I say it more sternly the next time.  "Grace.  Bath time."  I then lift her feet and practically drag her down the hall to the bathroom.  her sorrow turn to anger.  She makes her best, "I don't like you, Mom" face, folds her arms, and plots to her bottom.  "I don't want!" she shouts.  So I pick her up.  She kicks and screams, and eventually I get her into the bathtub.  She flails around in ther for a bit, letting me know with her wails that I am ruining her life and she may never be happy again.

And then, a funny thing happens.  As she splashes water on herself, she remembers: She likes the bath!  The bath is fun.  Not to mention a really great way to get clean.  By the end of the scenario, Grace usually enjoys her bath so much she doesn't want to get out of the tub.

The bath time struggle never is about the bath at all.  It is about obedience.  Grace is 3 years old and she simply does not want to obey.  She thinks she should be the one to decide whether she gets in the tub or not.  She is 3 years old, and she is trying to figure out just how much control she has in her little life.  At this point, not much...

The reality is, little disobedient Grace reminds me so much of myself.  I shudder to think what I could have missed in life because of my disobedience.  I am so thankful that God in His grace does not allow me to win.  Because usually, the fight is not really about what He is asking me to do.  It is not about the bathtub.  It is about me, trying to figure out just how much control I have over my little life.  At this point, not much..."

- Katie Davis, Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption (New York: Howard Books, 2011) 225-226.

1 comment:

  1. How like 3-year-olds we all are in our relationship with God! I can see it in myself, thinking, "I don't want to do that." It's so very hard to give up control. But what a blessing when we do!