A Lesson From a 4-Year-Old

Somewhere between 4:00 and 4:30 Friday morning, Tater Tot came sniffling into the bedroom to tell me that he’d wet the bed.  “Can you help me, Mama?” he asked in the sweetest and most pitiful voice you’ve ever heard.  I told him that of course I would help him; that we’d fix everything in no time at all, and he would be back in his bed before he knew it.  We changed his pajamas and I put new sheets on the bed.

“Thank you, Mama, for helping me and cleaning up my mess,” he said as his little arms draped lazily around my neck.

It was a sweet moment that I hope I never forget.  A sincere request for help and a sincere thank-you once help was given.

Even though Tater Tot seeks his independence and wants to do a lot of things himself, he still needs our help a lot, and he’s not shy about asking for it.  We hear “Could you help me?”  “I need a little help here!”  “I just can’t do it by myself.”  And we’re always glad to help him as he makes his way, because, well, that’s our job.  And we love him more than we ever thought possible.

As I lay there in bed, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep and dreaming of my first pot of coffee, I thought about how easy it is for a child to ask for help when he needs it.  Tater Tot thinks nothing of it because he knows that help will come.

It made me wonder why, as a child of God, it’s often hard to ask for help.  I’m guilty of it daily, thinking I can solve this problem or that one on my own but needing help in the worst way.  How often I’ve sweated and gritted my teeth and given it my best shot, only to fall flat on my face.  I’ve often had a little pity party for myself, claiming that no one knows or understands how hard fill-in-the-blank is, and if they did, surely someone would come and help me.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t prayed about things, but I’ve often been guilty of praying for God to wave a magic wand and make everything better.  You just take care of it, God, and I’ll be over there taking a nap. Or, Lord, please help me through this, which is usually code for please make things turn out the way I want them to.

Thankfully, God doesn’t necessarily work that way.

He is always there to help, but part of being helped is accepting help in the way that it’s given, and it’s not always given in ways we want or that are expected or in the timeframe we desire.   I’ve written before that David and tried for 12 years to have children.  Twelve years.  That’s a long time to wait for something your heart so desperately wants.  Did I pray?  Oh. My. Word.  I prayed.  I begged.  I cried out for what I wanted and when I wanted it.  And then after a few years I quit praying.  I quit asking.  I couldn’t ask for help in getting through all the trials of infertility any longer.  I even got a little put out because I felt like God had slammed the prayer door shut.  I figured that if He wasn’t listening, I wasn’t talking anymore.  I was all prayed out.  About 11 years into still not being parents, I finally made peace with the fact that David and I wouldn’t have children.  And it was a peace like I’d never known before.  I remember praying again, something like, “Okay.  I give in.  Your answer to our prayers is ‘no.’  I’m through asking for children and I’m through being twisted into a knot over it.  It’s alright.”

About a month later, well, you know the ending.  We were blessed beyond measure with Tater Tot.  At 36 and 40, David and I were parents for the first time. Then it happened again at 39 and 43 with Small Fry.  It’s not when I expected we’d have children, but I learned that who am I to tinker with God’s timing?  Perhaps I wasn’t ready at 27 or 32 or 35 to be a mother.  Maybe I needed so much work that it was necessary to wait so long.  (It wouldn’t surprise me at all if that were the reason.)

The thing is, even when I stopped asking for help, God was still there, working in the way that only He can.

He doesn’t promise to make things turn out in our favor.  He doesn’t even promise to make the road easy as He helps us.  But He will never refuse to help us.  Never.

Our little boy reminded me in the early morning hours that asking for help is always okay.  As his mama, I want to help him as much as I can, just like our Father wants to help us.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carrie
    Jul 12, 2010 @ 07:26:05

    Beautiful post. Thank you!

    Reply

  2. JLI
    Jul 12, 2010 @ 08:28:57

    I’m feeling some serious love for you this morning, Marian. Not only for the lesson (that I so desperately need) but also for a meaningful look into your own life that so many days seems to echo mine. It’s so comforting to know that I’m not alone.

    Reply

  3. meghan @ spicy magnolia
    Jul 12, 2010 @ 09:26:01

    I love the new design!! It’s beautiful and I love all the colors.

    I think that’s one of the biggest blessings of being a parent: getting to see with fresh eyes the love of the Father has for us. It’s unfathomable. I still can’t grasp it. As I think about the story you shared, I’m reminded of Psalm 121 about where our help comes from. And guess what, while we stumble around in the dark trying to awake from our slumber to help our little ones…He never slumbers! 🙂

    Reply

  4. Quirky is a Compliment
    Jul 12, 2010 @ 13:07:06

    How is it that you always know what to say right when I need it? I’ve been petitioning God for a certain something for the last year and a half now, and I just couldn’t figure out why He wouldn’t give me what I had decided that I so obviously need. I mean, I had it all planned out for Him. All He needed to do was wave His wand or nod His head and everyone (read: me) would be happy. But it hasn’t happened. And I don’t know why. And for reasons that I do not understand, (or maybe I’m just incredibly dense), it took until your post to realize that maybe, just maybe, my timing wasn’t right. I think it is, I hope it is, but really, what do I know? So thanks. Maybe instead of asking for what I think I want, I’ll just ask for what’s best for me.

    Reply

  5. D
    Jul 15, 2010 @ 20:19:00

    Wow. Stunningly beautifully written post. I may need to borrow this article in the near future. I’ll let you know when!

    Reply

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