We were driving across town with some family the other day when we realized we were going to be held up by a train. All of the adults in the car groaned as the gates lowered and the red lights started flashing.
But my two-year-old’s face lit up with excitement as she exclaimed, “A train! We found it! A train! A train! We found it! Yay!”
It was as if the very thing her heart had been longing for had suddenly dropped in her lap. The thing that moved her. The thing that filled the empty space she never knew she had.
And instead of groaning with impatience, I started to smile. If only I could always see life through her eyes. Aren’t the clothes in the interminable laundry piles some of the same items I once coveted through a store window? Aren’t the dishes that parade through an endless cycle of eating and washing some of the same ones I once carefully chose while in the smitten fog of wedding planning? Isn’t this crazy two-year-old the baby my heart ached to hold through the grief of loss and the trauma of a heart defect?
This vocation of parenting is so hard. We lose sleep. We are forever bonded to people who only seem to grow up and away from us too fast. We want to get away from them, but, when we do, we feel as if we’ve lost one of our own limbs. Or we find ourselves gazing at them, memorizing every freckle, every eye lash, and as we watch their lips purse in concentration — unaware of how closely we are watching them — we wonder how one human heart can possibly hold so much love.
My two-year-old triggers emotions I didn’t even know I had. I often wonder why I can get so angry with her — until the tenderness that wells up within me reminds me of how deeply I care. I care about who she is and the person she is becoming. I care about the way she acts and the way she treats others. I want her to reveal God to the world. And I start to get too caught up in the minutia of her every choice.
Until I realize that the way she reveals God to the world is through me. Through the way in which I respond to her. The way in which I guide her natural instincts and impulses. The way in which I accept her for who she is and allow her to shape me into the person God created me to be.
All of the seeming delays, obstacles, and stumbling blocks that this two-year-old can create throughout my day are the deliberately placed lessons that God has planted in my school of life. They are continual opportunities for sacrifice, humility, and patience. They are the moments that give me practice in split-second decisions between good and evil.
When I am faced with these moments, these railroad-crossing moments, I can either groan, or I can light up with recognition. I can recognize that delays aren’t always bad, and practicing patience can bear good fruit. And I, too, will see that for which my heart has been longing. I, too, can exclaim, “I found it! I found Him!”
Copyright 2019 Charisse Tierney