I’m not sure it was the boldness of the elderly man’s words in the grocery store entrance, or the hysterical tantrum my toddler daughter was throwing that left me paralyzed, unsure of what to say.
“Oh, come on mean mama,” he said, while cupping my elbow, “make that little girl laugh.”
Make her laugh? Hah! She was pedaling her feet in a circle on the ground, flailing her arms at every attempt to grab her and screaming at the top of her lungs.
Yes, I had become “that mom” in the grocery store. This just had to be God’s punishment for every time the younger me had been annoyed or sat in judgement of another mom and toddler in a similar situation, right? All joking aside, this will be forever etched in my mind as a moment where I felt no sense of control. I felt helpless. I felt sad. And mad. I didn’t respond in any way to this elderly man–who, I didn’t realize at the time–was trying to offer me some wisdom. Instead, I scooped up my daughter and hauled her to the bathroom to flail in privacy.
In Matthew 18, Jesus talks to us about these “little ones,” and my sense of Jesus is that He wasn’t just talking about perfect little angel children, but children with all of their colors–both darling and patience-testing.
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)
Through the challenge and joy of our toddler, I’ve been brought closer to God as I learn to lean not on my own strength, but rather to trust in God’s provision when I know I don’t measure up, when I feel like a helpless child myself. Let the little children come to me, includes us, God’s children. May we have the courage to come to Jesus not only when we’re our best, darling selves but also when we look back, embarrassed at the tantrum we’ve thrown.