Screaming, crying, and writhing on the floor for 10 solid minutes.
This is just a typical response to not being able to one’s shirt over one’s head….in my house, anyway.
A certain 4-year old in our house is going through a phase that can only be described as the “I Can’t Do It” phase. He gets extremely frustrated when anything requires even the tiniest bit more effort than he is willing to give.
On most days, I honestly would just give up and put his shirt on him to simply avoid the the entire dramatic, exhausting scene altogether. But today, God gave me a bit more patience and perseverance to be an encourager and a cheerleader instead of a doer.
I know this child can put his shirt on himself. He dressed himself for more than six months straight. But for some reason, he has recently reverted back to being dependent on me to clothe him.
But today, I let him pick out his shirt and then stood to the side while I watched him struggle. I didn’t get close to him, even when he pleaded with me to come ‘rescue’ him in his distress. I just stood there while calmly but enthusiastically saying, “You can do it! Put your arms in, your head through and pull it down. I know that it’s hard but keep trying! Way to go! You almost have it! See? I told you could do it!”
I didn’t just stand there and watch him struggle to be cruel or mean or because I was lazy, I did it because it was better for him in the long run. I am certain that he does not want to be 17-years old and still relying on his mom to help him get dressed.
Watching your kids struggle is hard, and I can only imagine it gets exponentially worse as they get older.
But it is often necessary to instill character traits (like perseverance) in a child for the long-run.
It is easy for us to see the long-term good that promoting independence does for our kids. They will be capable adolescents, teenagers, and adults one day because we let them struggle. We have taught them perseverance, among other things.
But when it is us who are struggling, it is an entirely different story.
I imagine God feels much like I did with my son when he sees us throwing our huge tantrums over a huge-t0-us-at-the-time-but-ultimately-small-in-the-whole-scheme-of-things issue.
Like when the sewing machine breaks in the middle of a project (for someone else) or when a child is being consistently disobedient or when I can’t find my car keys and we are late for school…again. I just feel like throwing a big fit.
He knows the end goal is to make us better. Unlike us, however, where we are trying to get our children to be independent, God wants us to learn to be dependent on Him.
Like me in the scenario just described, God is probably aching to help…to swoop in and save the day. But He often stands to the side, watching us struggle…all the while knowing that it will ultimately draw us closer to Him.
And to me, that’s a struggle that’s worth it…even when it hurts.