“Is this an okay time to call?” I asked as I sat in my room at a rectory in North Carolina? I had been texting my friend a bit earlier and decided to just call. I had a few other things to talk with him about and figured we could do things the old fashioned way; use our phones to actually speak with one another.
“Yeah,” he said. “I am just picking up my kids from school, so I’ve got a few minutes.”
Within what felt like seconds, I heard the decibel level in the car go up to football stadium proportions, and I found myself unable to focus on what I was saying. I couldn’t hear myself speak, and I was certain he couldn’t hear me either. In the background I kept hearing the phrase, “I forgot my water bottle. I forgot my water bottle. Daddy, I forgot my water bottle.” I continued trying to talk with him until I couldn’t take it any longer and just said, “It sounds to me like someone forgot her water bottle. You might need to turn around and go get it.” Without skipping a beat my friend said, “No. It’s a life lesson.” I started laughing.
Sometimes being a parent is so much harder than we ever imagined. The things we thought would be so difficult are not that bad, while things we imagined would be easy, surprise us with difficulty. I have also found to be true that what one family thinks is so laborious is seemingly effortless to another.
Let me tell you what would have happened if that was me on that end of the phone. First, I would have gently placed my cell phone in my lap, gently gazed at each of my children, and consoled the one who had left her water bottle. I would have then asked them with fatherly affection to please be quiet while I finished my call with my very important friend. If you believe that you are delusional. No. If that were me I would have yelled something like, “I’m on the phone,” while making epileptic jerking motions to get their attention. Furthermore, I would have threatened them to put a cork in it or all the joy in their lives would cease for the next couple days. And to the kid who kept telling me about her water bottle, I would have definitively denied any request to go back and get it, all the while turning the car around to in fact retrieve the lost water bottle. In other words, I would have caved.
Life lessons are important and they come in all sorts of different scenarios. While my way of dealing with these moments with my children has ebbed and flowed with positive and negative responses over the years, one thing that is true is that I know my kids well enough to realize some times turning back is important, and at other times it is important not to.
We are all children of God. This is not an idealized pie in the sky existence; rather, this is a fact. As sons and daughters of God, our Father allows us to be children. The Lord said, "Let the little children come unto me," and as children we come with a million requests, expectations and needs. Our Father knows when these requests need to be answered and when these expectations should be met. He knows when they should not as well. Life lessons can come with beautiful wrapping paper and a nice bow, effortless in their understanding and application, but other times it comes with deep hurt and much misunderstanding. In both the good and the bad, the answer is the same, it is from a loving Father who knows what is best for us in that moment.
We should always ask God for all things. Our Father hears each request, each cry for help, and each desire spoken and unspoken, but it doesn’t mean that He answers them in the way that we would want. Our Father allows us sometimes to ache a little longer, to realize the ramifications of our actions at times more acutely because He knows we need to grow in a particular area. Life will present seemingly countless moments of random events, and how we respond will be the building blocks upon which we learn the lessons of living. Knowing that God is above the apparent random events of time and space brings peace to the heart of a child. Our Father, will only say no when the lesson is one which helps us to be a better person.
You need to be quiet now because I have to call my friend back and tell him I just stole this story for my blog.