When I was around 3-years-old, my mom recalls that my first day at preschool started with me jerking loose of her hand, boldly stating “I can do it myself!”, walking down the stairs, opening the door, and heading right into the preschool. I’m sure she stood there for a moment just a little speechless and saddened that her baby didn’t need help moving on to the next little adventure in life.
I am now parenting an extremely stubborn and strong-willed 4-year-old daughter who absolutely feels the need to do all tasks by herself, even the ones that cause her frustration. As her parent, I look on with impatience as she tries to tie her shoes. I know the end result will not be what she wants, but nevertheless, she attempts the same thing time and time again. In the end, she gives up, crying, throwing her hands up, and states “Can you just do it for me?” Even walking into the dance studio, she looked at me and said, “Okay mommy, you can go in, pay the bill, and then leave. I don’t want you walking me in.” Oh my!
Often, I tend to get frustrated with my children’s ever-present and willful streak of independence. Both of my children are fearless, very social, impulsive, and will walk any boundary line we set with one foot hanging over the edge. While my husband and I have learned to adjust to parenting two children who are boundary pushers, we have also learned that life with strong-willed children can be very exciting.
There are very few dull moments in our lives. Our children are not really shy about trying anything, and can usually create a buzz of energy just about anywhere they go. Sometimes, though, we worry about just how far our children will push boundaries throughout their lives. We want them to make choices that are safe and healthy, and yet, we do not want to break their spirits. We also know that life lessons are mostly made by mistakes, “do-overs” can be quite humbling, and natural consequences often teach more than any of the words we can use.
Thinking about the challenges we face as parents causes me to wonder how the Lord must feel when we cross the boundaries He so desires us to stay clear of. He too watches as we push to try to do everything ourselves, live with one foot hanging over the edge, and attempt to do the same thing OUR way even though we usually end in failure, frustration, and heart-break. While I have thrown my hands up in moments of parenting frustration thinking, “Why are they doing this?!?!”, He has thought the same thing about me.
Our ways of telling the Lord, “I can do it myself” are ones that potentially could be quite destructive. I think of thoughts and words that have been whispered off the lips of people such as, “I can quit drugs anytime I want”, or “I know how to fix this marriage”, or “I’ll let go of that issue when I’m ready”, or “I doubt my future will be worth anything”. For me, it was thoughts like “God really must never want me to be a parent”, and other musings that coursed through my mind. In other words, I was thinking “Lord, I don’t trust that You have my barrenness in Your hands.”
I am so thankful that the Lord allows natural consequences, do-overs, and mistakes to mold us. His words teach us how to live, but more importantly, how to love. I am also grateful that He continuously loves His stubborn children despite our attempts to turn away and not listen.
Mostly though, I remember that when He threw His hands up in the air because of us, they were nailed to a tree. This act was not done out of frustration, but of intense love. My salvation is not something I can do myself.
Then said Jesus, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” And they parted his clothing, and cast lots. –Luke 23:34