Today, as the two of us pulled into a parking spot right next to the door, I turned off the car and turned to Liam and said, "Let's pray." I think it was my friend Kirra who first led me to the idea of praying for such a small-big life event as a grocery store trip, and I finally tried it. Liam clasped his hands and stared at me as I prayed aloud for an obedient heart for him, patience for me, and a peaceful experience. He echoed my "amen" and we headed into the store.
Initially, he wasn't a fan of being strapped into the cart and he pushed hard against me. But once I opened a package of cookies and handed him one, he calmed down pretty quickly. Crisis 1 averted. I waited for the cookie to be gobbled up and Liam to revert to his normal grocery store behavior. But as we pushed through the aisles and grabbed the few things on our list, he was an absolute dream. He tilted his head to one side and said, "Hi!" with a huge smile and a wave to every passing customer. He offered a "Tank you!" for scratch-and-sniff stickers that an employee gave him. And at checkout, he sat quietly in the cart and smiled at the cashier.
I left the store in disbelief. It was like someone had replaced my boy's heart with a softer, more obedient version that I'd never once seen in a grocery store before. I told him, "Mommy is so thankful for your good behavior. You did such a great job!" to which he replied, "Biam bay!" (Liam obeyed.)
I'm one who is skeptical when people pray for parking spaces. Aren't there bigger fish to fry? Isn't God busy with more life-altering issues like Christians being massacred in Syria, like cancer, like terrorism and hunger?
But the truth is, God desires to be included in the littlest and the biggest parts of my life. He encourages my dependence on him and isn't troubled when I approach him with the little things - even trips to the grocery store. If I believe that he doesn't want to be bothered, I show that I don't really know him. And, clearly, I don't understand how wide and long and high and deep is his love for me.
I read through the first couple chapters of Hebrews this morning, and Hebrews 2:14-18 struck me:
"Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." (Emphases mine.)
The humanity of Jesus in this passage is striking to me. I have a much easier time focusing on his God-ness than his human-ness. Though Jesus was completely sinless, he wasn't exempt from temptation, from frustration, from hurt and anger and pain. It's easy for me to forget that. To think that he can't possibly understand how exhausting life with a toddler can be. How thankless my job can often feel.
I love the translation from The Message of verses 16-18:
"It's obvious, of course, that he didn't go to all this trouble for angels. It was for people like us, children of Abraham. That's why he had to enter into every detail of human life. Then, when he came before God as high priest to get rid of the people's sins, he would have already experienced it all himself - all the pain, all the testing - and would be able to help where help was needed."
"All the pain, all the testing." He experienced it all, even if his circumstances looked a little different than a tantrum-throwing toddler in aisle 3. The frustration and humiliation I feel when that happens is something he experienced. Something he understands. Something that he can help me to endure.
But only when I let him. Only when I take the time and the focus to pray that he intervenes. I want to be the mother that publicly acknowledges his work in every little aspect of her life. I want my son and daughter to know that their mom is weak, but leans heavily on a sufficiently strong Jesus. Even at Trader Joe's.
|Photos taken at my parents' new home in Nashville this past weekend. This child fears nothing.|