Our youngest recently graduated to a “big girl” bed, which means that she now officially refuses to stay in it for sleeping. Since she discovered her new freedom, we have spent anywhere from twenty minutes to two hours trying to get her to sleep. We have tried everything – a predictable routine of bath, book, rocking, and bed. We have tried gently returning her to her room, with limited conversation. We have tried insisting she put herself back to bed (this one almost never succeeds). And of course, we have raised our voices many a time – not exactly the best remedy to get someone to go to sleep. There have been tears (hers and ours), arguments, and desperation. We keep reminding ourselves that this is a phase, but when you are in the thick of a phase, it can be hard to see straight.
I was bemoaning our situation this weekend, wondering why she doesn’t just go to sleep. Clearly she is tired, and she feels better when she is rested. But logic is not her strong suit right now. In the midst of my frustration, it occurred to me that this must be a little taste of God’s relationship with us. Surely God knows what is best for us, and would love for us to follow God’s will. And yet, we are stubborn. We want to do things our way, and we want to be in control. Sometimes it occurs to us to go to God in prayer, seeking guidance. But most of the time we are so fixed on what we want and what we think is best, we rarely look to God. God gives us the gift of free will, and with that comes the mess of human decisions and actions.
Thinking about God’s infinite patience with my own stubbornness has made me wonder if I might take a deep breath and try to offer that same patience with my little one. I often find that when I take that breath, imagining God’s lens of patience, I am able to see my child’s frustration, her longing for independence, and her confusion. Seeing her humanity makes my heart much more generous. Thinking about God’s infinite patience has also made me wonder to whom else I could extend a little more patience. Perhaps it is the friend or family member who feels like a perpetual burden. Perhaps it is a colleague or fellow volunteer who refuses our advice. Or perhaps, and maybe even more frustrating lately, it is that elected official for whom we may or may not have voted. If God can love us, honor our humanity, and abide with us, surely we might be able to share the same love, honor, and patience – even if it sometimes makes us crazy! I promise to pray for you as you endeavor to follow God’s example – as long as you pray for me too!