The preschoolers, man. The preschoolers.
They can’t sit still. I don’t know if it’s nature or nurture, but something in their little bodies makes it impossible for them to cease all motion. They don’t pay attention. Their brains just can’t focus on anything for longer than a minute. They ask the most random, non-lesson related questions I have ever heard. They’re obsessed with their shoes and whether or not they want to even be wearing them. All the really want to do is dump the bucket of legos on the Sunday school room floor and go to town.
I want to shake them all.
And then one of them prays and thanks God for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And the pretty flowers. And dogs. Another offers to share his toy with the new kid. They scribble wildly-colored designs and dream up fantastic stories. They get excited to make little presents for people and pour equal amounts of affection and snot into the projects. They are supremely confident that Jesus loves them. It’s just a fact like breathing.
I want to hug them all.
Then someone yells or there’s a disturbance in the force and we’re back to the shaking.
Teaching preschoolers is not my gift. It’s not the thing I would naturally choose to do every third Sunday. But I think sometimes God asks us to do the thing that sets our teeth most on edge.
Because it reveals something about us and about Him.
I’m a whole lot more like those preschoolers than I’d like to admit.
The insomnia began on July 31. (How sad that I can name the day). When I don’t sleep well, my anxiety worsens. My temper gets shorter. A haze clouds my vision, so to speak, and it all seems horrible. An, “I hate everything and pants” sort of moment.
I sink into a snit. Sulking in the corner. Glaring.
I just want to dump the bucket of legos on the floor and to heck with the rest of it, thank you very much.
I don’t want to pay attention. I don’t want to do the things I’m supposed to be doing. I don’t want to put forth the effort.
A spiritual toddler, for reals.
God sure does put up with a lot from me. (From us. We can be honest). He patiently, so patiently, keeps on leading, keeps on teaching. He waits when I get distracted by the shiny. He lets me play with it for a minute and then shows me that it’s not what I really want. When I sit down in the middle the road and pout, He doesn’t kick me. He doesn’t heap condemnation on my head. His Spirit speaks to my soul with a gentle, “I told you so. But we can chill here for now.”
He knows when I get heart-weary. He knows that my mind plays tricks on me. He knows that Satan’s game is to throw temptations my way and then call me names when I give in.
He defends me.
Think about that. We’re these stumbling, bumbling people trying to run with our wobbly knees and shaky ankles when we can barely walk. We don’t have very good balance. We suffer from deep spiritual ADHD. We fall and get bruised. Sometimes on accident. Sometimes on purpose and with full knowledge of the pain to come.
We cry and scream and throw things and kick up dust. We stomp our feet and say, “I don’t care! This is too hard! I don’t want to!”
Satan laughs and says, “See, God? See how much she sucks? You should shake her!”
Christ just holds up a nail-scarred hand before the Father and says, “She’s Mine. Snit and all, she’s Mine.”
The beautiful holiness of His advocacy makes me uncomfortable in the best possible way. That One so perfect and true and good would take up for me… That He would choose to embrace me when He has every right to shake the life out of me.. That He would condescend to wipe the tears and snot from my face and, say, with a smile, “Let’s try again, shall we?”
I’m not ashamed to tell you that I’m crying right now.
As they say, the struggle is real. The war between the old woman and the new woman rages inside of me.
“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” – Romans 7:15 (NKJV)
And so I bow my head, indebted forever,
“…to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” – Ephesians 1:6 (NKJV)
8 thoughts on “A Spiritual Snit”
Marie, I love preschoolers. And you are so right…we are more like those preschoolers than we care to admit. I’m so thankful God wipes my snot nosed face and says let’s try again. I’m crying right along with ya friend!
We’re in this together. That’s a nice thing!
Beautiful! As a mommy of a three year old and a six year old, I completely empathize with you! We just want to shake them sometimes -__-
But then- my three year old makes a “birthday cake” out of play dough and popsicle sticks, and sings Happy Birthday to Jesus. My six year old uses her prayer journal to write a letter to Jesus thanking him for today and thanking him for everything (in her wildly misspelled way).
I made a banner of fruit shapes cut out of construction paper for the fruits of the Spirit. Was it frustrating to have to guide three year old’s hands with scissors, knowing she’d just cut into the shape I drew? Yes. Did it drive my OCD nuts that she was bound and determined to put spots on all the fruit, whether it has spots or not? Did it frustrate me that she got bits of dried play dough all over the floor when she made her “cake”? Did it frustrate me when my six year old took three times longer than I wanted writing her letter?
It did, but then their tiny little hearts began to shine. Six year old already can name all the fruits of the spirit on the fruit hanging on the wall- after doing her Galatians 5:22 verse three times this morning. Three year old shows a closeness with Jesus, and sings what few lines she knows of Mighty to Save as she plays. That letter to Jesus? It’s hanging on my “board of achievement” bulletin board in the classroom (for their best work).
How humbled I was to hear her singing Happy birthday to Jesus! Happy birthday to you! How humbled was I when I’m sitting grating my teeth in my chair, only to read (with her help, given the misspellings) that letter written to Jesus! How glad I am that she can name the fruits of the spirit (and that many of the dots aren’t that visible when it’s hung on the wall 😉 so quickly, and try today to put them into practice!
Sometimes, as adults, we forget that, in Christ, we are still toddlers ourselves. My girls love God so unconditionally- they pray to Him, they thank him for things right away no matter what they are doing, and will start praying at random. They will write letters to Jesus when we are itching to move along to math. They make a mess of play dough just so they can make Jesus a birthday cake because they KNOW.
He’s special. He’s their savior. He’s their God. He’s their father. He’s their friend.
The faith of a child.
A faith- that we, as adults, are shamed by. A faith- that we should strive to achieve ourselves.
And if that means vacuuming up bits of dried play dough, or practicing that particular fruit of patience a bit more than we’d like to so that the children we teach grow closer to God- then so be it.
Because we are ALL His children, and the patience He shows us, even when we regress to spiritual toddlers, goes far beyond our comprehension, and far beyond what we could ever deserve. Yet He is patient anyway.
Perhaps this song shouldn’t be solely for children:
Jesus loves me, this I know.
For the bible told me so.
Little ones (or spiritually little ones) to Him belong.
They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
The bible tells me so.
If all we ever accomplish in these frustrating days of teaching small children is to nurture both their faith and our own, and to instill a love of God in them and in our own hearts, then we’ve accomplished far more than even a mountain of legos could ever do 😉
And who knows? Maybe the little ones will build a cross, or an unrecognizable creation that is a “birthday cake” for our Savior out of those legos 😉
Thank you for sharing, Amanda!
There are advantages to being on a medical version of Death Row – there are very few spiritual issues. God’s here, and I have the strength to get through each viciously miserable moment – and I am not being dramatic, here.
All of the rules, the protocols for Christianity…they don’t mean a thing. On the edge of eternity, it’s clear…they were all games we invented, because we thought that winning them would make God like us more.
You really can stand down, my dear, dear friend. Please don’t stress over any of it. God loves you. Period.
Do your best to enjoy your life, and do your best to spread love. His, and yours.
You already do it so well. Please, please don’t fret. You’re doing great.
Ah, Andrew. Thank you. Just thank you.
I know the feeling. I think I’m going to successfully “hack” sleep, get a good night’s rest for once, and wake up a better more focused person. Then I barely sleep and go through the day with my brains barely engaged. This is when we rely on God’s mercy and understanding, and that He’s more patient with we “pre-schoolers” than we are with each other.
James! Good to hear from you, friend. Are you not sleeping well? That’s the worst.
“This is when we rely on God’s mercy and understanding, and that He’s more patient with we ‘pre-schoolers’ than we are with each other.”
True and amen.