Friday, September 4, 2009

My Part

Miles called me back to his bedroom.

"I'm scared."

"I'm right in the next room, what are you scared about?"

"Remember that guy with the slurpy tongue? That big guy who ate up people by slurping them in the cave?"

"No, I don't remember that. I don't know what you're talking about, but if you feel scared, why don't you talk to God about it, ask Him to take those thoughts away so you can sleep."

A few minutes later, I'm back to sorting through piles and piles of paperwork, and from the monitor I hear, "GOD, GIVE ME A CHANCE HERE AND MAKE.ME.STOP.THINKING.THAT. UUUGGGHHHH!"

I feel a tinge of recognition, a pain in my heart. I can relate to his frustration and fear.

Moments after that, he's calling me back to his room again. He tells me (with his exasperated-I'm-trying-to-sound-like-a-grown-up-voice) that God is not listening to him. He says God won't take away the scary thoughts.

Then the words just poured from me and I found myself standing there talking to my boy and myself about something very important.

"You have to do your part, Miles."

I went on and attempted to explain that God can give him the strength, but he needs to make a choice to think about something else too. He needs to decide to think a different way, like maybe about Curious George, something good or funny.

Oh, how I too want a magic wand experience with God. World peace - Pazow! An end to world hunger - Whamo! Healing for the sick- Kaboom! Overcoming my own demons - DONE! Patience and peace with a touch of a zen-like state - YOU GOT IT! BOOM! Money tree - IT'S YOURS!

Maybe it works that way sometimes, and I'm sure that's awfully nice. But for the most part, I think it's a two-way street. To be honest, most of the time I wish it were not. I don't want to have to do anything but believe. I want to sit back and watch goodness come from my wanting of it.

Then I remember what would be lacking.

If God always responded with immediate relief, the relationship and refinement that comes with doing my part would disappear. When I listen, when I pick myself up and do what I know I need to do, I finally take a good look at those purposes.

What we're working on here, together, is my heart.

I haven't been doing that lately. I'm standing in doorways and preaching to my child, but then on the other side of the wall I am fists tight and a stomping foot. I am shouting, "GOD, GIVE ME A CHANCE HERE AND MAKE.ME.STOP.THINKING.THAT. UUUGGGHHHH!"

I see the child that I am standing there, and I know I've got work to do. I just don't really feel like doing my part.

What amazes me is that my heart continues to grow and change despite myself, ever so very slowly, even when I don't want to try.


Miles somehow accepted my advice without an argument or a sound. He was sitting up, shoulders slumped in the dark and after hearing what he needed to do, he let himself fall back to his pillow. To try again. To rest.

Sometimes that's all we can do.


Tooj said...

We do have to do our part. Yes. And that's what I've been thinking about all afternoon. Sometimes, the effort our part takes is really, really heavy. REALLY heavy. Tell Miles "thanks for the lesson."

MidnightCafe said...

This is so wise. ...and Miles is SO smart and funny and wise in his own little way. Thanks for sharing!

Wendi @ Every Day Miracles said...

Oh wow! Incredible insight. These lessons form our kids - they just amaze me. I love that I can learn from your kids too. Thanks so much for sharing. I tend to be pretty lazy and needed this little slap in the face. :)

♥georgie♥ said...

One word: BEAUTIFUL!

H-Mama said...

well spoken, my friend. so true...

L.T. Elliot said...

That is the hardest part for me--doing my part. Sometimes I think I haven't the strength for my part or perhaps, the bravery. Sometimes, I just want it to end.

I just need to remember that it takes two people reaching to clasp hands. It's not comfortable to reach for someone when their grasp is limp and lifeless--How so it must hurt God when he reaches and I fail to respond.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

uh huh. yep. so true.

glenn641 said...

I have been taught that we should pray like everything depends on God and work like everything depends on us.

Kristen said...

Quite a few years ago, our priest gave a talk somewhat like can't ask God to just fix something for you. You have to do it for yourself. You can ask him for strength to get through it, for guidance, for grace...but you have to do your part, just like you said.

This was a great piece. Thank you!

BaronessBlack said...

Great post!
Two things:
I was thinking of a study that showed that in Indian slums, the Christians often did better than the Hindus. They attributed this to the Christians essentially believing that 'God helps those who help themselves' and 'God will send me opportunities'. Whereas the Hindus were more static in their world-view believing 'this is the caste I was born into and it cannot change' and 'this is the life I was destined to lead. If something better is destined for me by the Gods, it will happen whether I do anything or not'.

This reminded me of a story about a monk who was watching a butterfly emerging very slowly, and (it seemed to him) painfully from it's cocoon. The monk, thinking he was helping, took out his pen-knife and cut the cocoon open. Instead of flying free, as he had hoped, the butterfly flopped around with soggy wings all clumped together.
What looked slow and painful to the monk was necessary for the moisture to be squeezed from the butterfly's wings. So that when emerged completely, it could fly properly.
Of course, the message is that the easy way out often doesn't help us in the long run!

Eowyn said...

I can hear you way down to the bottom of my heart down here. I want that so often.

It's kind-of counterproductive to faith though.

Sabrina said...

I like this post! Well said.

P.S. I almost forgot about this blog... I need to get back in the game!

Jamie said...

Love, love, love this! All too often I find myself in that very spot, where I'm wanting God just to do all the work for me.

Carrie said...

This is so true, and such a good illustration - thanks, Miles! :) I am so with you on the lectures - I lecture my son about patience all the time - in an impatient tone, no less! :)

charrette said...

Heather, you nailed it. That is exactly how God works, how faith works, we fail to work most of the time.

Your words are so beautiful, and I love the way you are teaching your kids about God, so practically and matter-of-factly, and they are responding.

(Your post reminded me so much of this scripture:
"But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" James 2:20

and also this one:
And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children." Isa. 54: 13

Isn't that exactly what we yearn for?)

blueviolet said...

That is just so true. God gives us the ability to do certain things and we have to use it. I loved your story.

Mary @ Parenthood said...

I read this post immediately after reading the following quote on someone else's blog:

"Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine and injustice when He could do something about it. But I'm afraid God might ask me the same question." ~author unknown


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