I can’t stand it when my boys’ fingernails get too long. The younger one tends to “accidentally” scratch the older one and they both get all kinds of crud stuck under their nails. I try to perform the nail-trimming ritual at least once every week or two. During a de-clawing session a few weeks ago, my youngest (3 1/2) got offended and chastised me.
“Mo-om! Now I can’t pick my nose!”
Most of us would be embarrassed to complain about such a thing, but he was dead serious. I was depriving him of a tool for a very important job and he did not appreciate the inconvenience. Blissfully unaware of the social impropriety of nose-picking and the unsanitary condition of boogery fingers, he simply spoke his mind.
He’s only three, so we all give him a break and laugh it off. But it gives me a little shudder to consider the things that come out of my mouth (or my keyboard) when I make my world small and mostly about me. Please tell me I’m not the only one who has regrettable conversations that come back to haunt occasionally. You know—the kind you really thought nothing of at the time. Your perspective had become so skewed and self centered that you really felt no shame for vocalizing the attitude that colored your reality. But then, you repented, or matured, and the next time you thought about that conversation, you were horrified.
You bury your head in your hands and think,
Did I really say that?
Unfortunately this same pattern appears in my prayer life. To illustrate, I will pick on my son again. I’m not sure what age that becomes inappropriate and rude, but I’m pretty sure he hasn’t reached it yet. 🙂
Recently, we were visiting some friends with teenage girls. The girls hauled out some of their old toys for my boys to play with, including a whole tote full of realistic plastic animals and dinosaurs to scale. My son took a special liking to a family of leopards (he calls them tiger-leopards). When it was time to leave, the girls offered to let my boys keep the impressively enormous dinosaurs.
My son was glad enough about that—for a split second—until he realized he would not be keeping the tiger-leopards as well. At that point tears and wailing commenced, interspersed with declarations of utter disinterest in the dinosaurs—that is until someone mentioned that if he didn’t want the dinosaurs, his elder brother could have them all. My youngest suddenly developed a newfound appreciation for the gift of the dinos and discovered that perhaps he didn’t need the tiger-leopards so badly after all.
My point? Well, how many times have I gotten so focused on the things I don’t have (and don’t need) that I completely failed to recognize, much less appreciate, the lavish blessings in my life. I pout and cry at God for things that I think I lack. Any gratefulness for my very good life that is filled with very good things is swallowed up by my preoccupation with more and better. And this I unashamedly express to God.
Now I know that God wants open communication with us, and I know that he sees our hearts and our thoughts anyway. But I can know that my child is feeling greedy and disappointed that his selfish desires are not being met. I can be aware of and even have compassion for the struggle he is having inside. That does not mean I approve of or somehow appreciate when he allows those feelings to dictate his behavior and gives into a spoiled tantrum.
Neither, I think, does God. I want to keep my perspective in a place where I am embarrassed to cry out to God that I need my nose picker or my tiger-leopards when he has given me health, freedom, abilities, comfort, conveniences, love, purpose, and hope.