I had every intention of writing about this earlier today but a later conversation with a treasured friend solidified my need to record these thoughts. If they are meaningful to you also, amen.
This morning included a very challenging moment for me as a young mother. My child was tantrumming on that please-don’t-ever-do-this-in-pubic level and reasoning seemed futile. Here’s the story.
She went for a walk with Grammie and Grandad and upon her return she demanded goldfish. “I need goldfish. I need goldfish. I need goldfish.” To say she was insistent would be a grand understatement. She wasn’t rude, though, just very determined to get her toddler hands on what’s typically her favorite snack.
Four realities halted my willingness to hand over the yellow crackers. 1. My child’s nose was running and booger-loaded, 2. I wanted to ease her breathing, 3. it wasn’t yet what I believed to be snack time and 4. I knew that if she got her wish, blowing her nose would be even farther from her mind. What toddler loves blowing her nose except for those times when pulling tissue off the toilet roll and tossing it into the toilet seems like endless fun? Sure I’ll blow my nose, if I can do that!
So I said something along the lines of, “You need to blow your nose and then I’ll get your goldfish.” She wasn’t up for negotiations. Whining quickly escalated to yelling/screaming, stomping feet and eventually laying on the floor. I think she may have accidentally landed on the hardwood as she ran defiantly out of the kitchen.
I continued to try reasoning with her. “Blow your nose and then I’ll get you goldfish. If you don’t blow your nose, you won’t get any goldfish.”
She wasn’t budging.
Neither was I. As much as I’m up for give and take, once I’ve made what I believe to be a worthy decision (based on what I know of my child), I stick to my guns so as not to encourage manipulation. This was no exception.
I was determined to remain calm. It’s not that easy especially when other parts of life are stressful. It’s times like these that I honor parents who are forced to parent solo and those who, even though they grew up with parents who always flew off the handle, have committed to charting a new path for themselves and their children. Thankfully, I have pretty calm examples in my parents. But still, it’s not easy.
One of the amazingly beautiful things about this stage of my child’s life is that even when she’s not getting her way with me, she still comes to me. This morning was no different. In the midst of her teary-faced resistance, she continued to come into my arms. She stomped her feet while my arms where holding hers. She wanted to be with me even though she didn’t agree with me.
I’m not sure how long we went at it but finally I said, “Are you going to blow your nose?” And as she shook her head to say, “No,” she reached for the tissue. She gave two great nose blows then completely calmed down as I placed some goldfish in her snack cup.
As I drove to work, I realized that I was sad. Not sad because it took so long to reason with my daughter. Sad because even though I know many people who support me as a woman who has decided to do what I believe God has asked me to do, there are many who don’t. And it’s not just that they don’t, it’s that they’re so unable to view me as anything but rogue.
What does this have to do with goldfish and boogers? Just give me a minute.
Two days ago, I moved between frustration and anger after the majority of my church’s world leadership voted, once again, in a way that only makes it harder for the church at large to embrace my work as being of God. But I wasn’t down, not at all in a place of despair, never once thought about quitting. Some of you are like, “The ordination question? That’s so 1982!” Well, not for my denomination. And, as I’m sure you know, it’s so nuanced, so layered.
Yesterday, as far as I could tell, I was moving through life as usual. My biggest issue was immense fatigue from waking up wretchedly early and being unable to get back to sleep.
Today. Today I began to cry a bit as I drove to work because I just wanted my goldfish. I’ve not been tantrumming, though, not at all. But as I talked to God, it became clear to me that He’d like me to blow my nose. But I want to know that no matter where I go in the world to do the work God has asked of me, those in my care will be willing to receive the Word through me, a woman. I’m not fighting for ordination. I don’t even feel as if I’m fighting for anything. It’s more that I realize that for as long as the ordaining of women as pastors is viewed as rogue behavior, our work will seem invalid to many and it’ll be hard to not feel the need to prove our worth.
There are people who will literally not listen to what I have to say about Jesus. Just give me my goldfish!
Yes, I shouldn’t let it get to me. I should just kick the dirt off my sandals and keep it moving. In my most defiant moments, that sounds easy. I can easily walk away from someone or something when my spirit is negative. But when I’m actually being obedient to God and loving it, I care deeply that no one experience anything but Jesus. I don’t want to kick off dirt. I want to sit at the table, commune, dig deep, grow together. I want us, as a community, to have a clearer understanding as to why Jesus took the time to come to this earth and provide us with access to eternal life. I want us to get excited together about how all that connects to our daily encounters. I want us to stop living in compartments and find peace in understanding how our walk with Jesus relates to our willingness to walk with others. I don’t want any of that to be hindered.
And I’m sad that God hasn’t been able to change people’s minds yet. Yeah, you read it right. I’m sad that God doesn’t force people to see…like I see.
And in my sadness this morning, God kept letting me know that He has things He’d like me to do, like blow my nose.
“But I just want goldfish.”
“But I have something for you to focus on right now.”
“Let me have goldfish.”
“You’ve got boogers.”
And like my little love modeled this morning, God wants me–even in my sadness–to continually run into His arms even as I cry out for my will to be done.
So here I am, in God’s arms, blowing my nose. And I’m choosing to embrace His peace and to walk in obedience…
…even though I may never get my goldfish.
A Note on Sadness: If you’ve ever experienced something that’s caused you to feel sad, please don’t dismiss the sadness or try to rush through it. Let sadness be. Give it time. Dismissing or rushing will only fuel a bitterness that is harder to quench in the end. If you have faith in God, and I hope you do, take your sadness and sit with Him for as long as it takes to take the next step in your particular journey. And know that I have prayed for you. Life is messy but as a friend penned months before losing her battle with cancer, “Where there’s life, there’s hope.” May you never lose hope.