Wednesday, March 3, 2010
How to Grow a Child
She came home with a cup of dirt. A paper chick on a stick was perched in the middle, and she was excited. "What did you get in Sunday School?" I asked. She eagerly showed me the seeds that had been scattered across the soil and told me that she had to water it right away. So she rushed to the drawer and pulled out a little orange Tupperware pitcher. I was distracted by some other child or some other need and wasn't nearby to oversee the watering.
Those seeds were very well watered.
I turned in time to see the dirt and seeds sloshing like a rice paddy. "Oh, sweetie, let's not give it any more water," I suggested. "Now your seeds need some sun." She reluctantly placed the cup on the window sill and left it alone. I hoped that those poor little seeds were hearty.
The next day she was eager to water again. But I assured her that the seeds were still nice and wet and just needed to sit in the sun for a while. I doubted we'd see any growth, but felt a glimmer of hope for her sake anyway.
And then, a week later, I saw a thin, green blade pushing up from the damp soil. I called Avery over to the sink. "Avery! Your grass is growing!" I was happy and relieved that her enthusiastic gardening techniques hadn't stopped the growth.
As a matter of fact, the grass continued to grow. This morning she thrilled over the several long blades that had emerged. Her first impulse was to water again. "Sweetie," I offered, "if you touch the soil right here, you can see that it's still nice and damp. I think your seeds are doing really well in the window."
She liked the growth, but she wasn't completely satisfied. "But I wanna put more water in so the grass will grow fast," she explained. I smiled, and I understood. We put the cup back in the window and I thought about growing and waiting and watering and rushing.
It's my nature to rush things along. Perhaps if I really water my kids, they'll grow more quickly. Perhaps if we do this curriculum and these sports and that music and have those friends, they'll sprout up just beautifully. I'm just sure of it. So I step in and dump a bucket of water on my little seeds. And then I do it again, just to be sure. Because I want them to flourish now.
And then I wonder why I get frustrated and frazzled. Isn't it perfectly natural for a mother to want to give and do and provide for her children? Of course. But what if the children just need their mother to be? What if they don't need constant, heavy watering? What if they just need to be gently nurtured and patiently cared for in the warmth of the sun?
This is where God's grace is so amazing. No matter how many times I fail, the strong green blades do emerge. They may be sloshing around a bit in the mess I've made, but they are growing. Because my children belong to the Lord, He will work and tend in spite of my over-enthusiastic gardening techniques. And as I blunder, He gently and faithfully reminds me of my role in the process: to rely on the warmth of His Son, that I might more fully experience the joy and beauty of abundant, growing life.