by Christina Stolaas
Have you ever walked into a shopping mall, grocery store, or other public venue and seen an overly tired toddler lying in the middle of the floor? (Hope it wasn’t one of mine!) Every single one of my kids has done this several times between the ages of 2-3, but yesterday when it happened with Katana it taught me an encouraging lesson.
We were out shopping in the mall after a long day filled with errands and no nap. We had just finished forty five minutes of free play in their play area in which she played hard-- chasing, crawling, laughing and hiding with her siblings. Big bro and Big sis were fifteen feet ahead of Curtis and I pushing baby Ronin in the stroller. Katana was walking happily beside us, trudging along towards the exit with a mysterious grin on her face. She started to walk slower, began slowly rubbing her eyes and then next within a minute-- she laid down flat on the floor in the middle of the mall and started moaning and whining.
Being the savvy experienced parent I am- -and not particularly wanting to carry the two year old I decided to walk ahead and hope she would follow. She didn’t seem to mind that I left her even as I exclaimed, “I’m leaving you! Bye bye...” She was absolutely too exhausted to budge or even notice. Obviously, I would never dream of going more then 20ft in front of her...so when that wasn’t effective I had to move on to plan B. I walked back to her to ask her if she was tired and wanted me to carry her.
What every parent wants at this time is your sweet toddler simply to ask nicely for you to pick them up with those sweet sobbing eyes. As a mommy I longed for her to lay her head appreciatively on my shoulder to cuddle. What I got was of course completely different. First, she slapped me away with her free hand, and then she put her head back into the floor and.....screamed. Loudly.
Being a loving (and slightly embarrassed mother) I promptly grabbed her, manually or shall I say forcefully laid her head on my shoulder and proceeded to carry her out. I rubbed her back gently and sweetly talked to her, “Close your eyes sweetie, just close your eyes.” I didn’t react this way because I’m an “even tempered caring parent”...I reacted this way because I understood how exhausted she must be and how this exhaustion was most certainly the cause of her meltdown.
When I finally put the kids to bed last night I began thinking about how God treats me as my Heavenly Father. He’s so gentle with my meltdown moments, because as the ultimate loving and perfect parent He understands what’s behind them. God knows I tend to run hard and fast through this life-- and at times I play too hard and am overly ambitious. I move forward until I don’t have an ounce of “go” left and then I just collapse quite literally like my toddler demonstrated.
The truth is, God isn’t angry with me! He loves me and is more then willing to pick me up and carry me until my strength returns. Quite often-- in my own shame, frustration and feeling of failure I find myself throwing a tantrum and rejecting the very hands that long to comfort me. I swat away God’s advances and the invitation to rest on His shoulder. There are times I don’t want to talk to, read about, or be intimate with God.
What I’ve found in my life is-- God’s an excellent and protective daddy. He won’t leave me in the middle of the mall even when I push Him away through tantrums! He’s too concerned about my well being to leave me in a dangerous place where I can easily be ran over by life's circumstances. Even as I reject His advances-- He’s been so faithful to pick me up when I can’t walk anymore. He gently lays my weary head upon His strong shoulders and proudly carries me because I am His child.
What a powerful reminder my sweet girl was for me yesterday. As I walk this journey of life, God’s looking out for me. He’s patient, gentle, loving and forgiving because--- He knows me. He knows me because I am His, and He is mine!