I’m watching my 20-month-old figuring out the new baby. It’s a fascinating study in human development really. She is processing – there are times you can see it on her face, trying to make sense of what all is going on. I have tried explaining what I’m doing and why and just be as calm as I can when she is clearly unhappy about any of it. She has moments of sheer jealousy and it shows through her polite kick to the baby’s leg or a gentle shove when the baby is leaning on mama for too long.
But then there are moments of utter sweetness. The unprovoked kiss to the baby’s head. The embrace of baby’s body however clumsily but sincerely. It is to die for and my heart just overflows with joy. It all reminds me how fickle our hearts can be. We want peace and love, but we get easily entangled with discontent and envy. We want kinship and comradery, but we end up with strife and bitterness when the relationship isn’t quite on our terms. We feel displaced, dethroned if you will, because we love ourselves more than we love others. It has always been as long as humankind has been humankind.
And it’s only going to get worse. Cheery, no? You can’t help but see throughout history, when left to our own devices, humanity totally and completely sucks. When we give in to ourselves. When we let greed, arrogance, ignorance, envy, and all other wrong ways of thinking become our kings and masters. We give in to the dark side because, let’s face it, it feels really good at first. It feels like vindication. It feels like making people pay for what they’ve done. It feels like justice, though one sided as it may actually be which is hardly the point. We just want some kind of relief or justification or at the very least understanding and empathy.
My daughter gets empathy because she’s 20-months-old. We get it. It was just her for 19 months – just her, mama, and dada. There was nothing else in our arms or taking up space on the bed when we watch TV together. She was princess of the castle and she knew it. Now she has to share her title and her kingdom with this squirmy, squeaking thingy that we keep referring to as “sister” whatever that is. It hardly seems fair. Understandable.
But eventually she has to grow up. Eventually, it isn’t cute any more. Jealousy and envy turn into angry monsters when left unchecked. They thrive on the smallest infractions and gobble up the sweetest and kindest of girls. And they grow into vicious, contentious, vindictive women who cannot deal with even the idea of being usurped by anything.
[Quick side thought: how come the word contentious and the word content are so complex??? Interesting word study for another time.]
We all have to grow up. We all learn that putting ourselves on the throne is a deliberate invitation for God to usurp us. It’s an invitation to war. It’s replacing the white flag for a banner of attack. You might as well tell God to send in all His “heavies” and beat your defenses to a bloody pulp. It’s always our narcissism that gets in the way. It’s always our self-centered thinking and unwillingness to share and to give up our entitled lifestyles. We get ourselves into more trouble by being ourselves than through anyone else’s fault. We like to blame others for it all, but that’s also just a byproduct of our selfishness.
Of course the analogy of parenting two kids under 2 years old fails because I am only human. I don’t always know how to handle my toddler’s outbursts and as much as I would like to think I am always right, I know I’m not. But God is, and God has the capacity to love expertly and perfectly every time, where mama and dada don’t. We will fail our kids. We have and will continue to. But it’s our projection of our human parenting that seeps into our understanding of God’s divine parenting. He doesn’t fail us. His love knows no limits. His grace has no measure. And when my grace and patience ends, His will continue forever.
So I remove my king from its throne, and I remind myself that God alone has set His King. He laughs at my little king. And He compassionately brushes it aside and rightfully takes His place to lovingly discipline, lovingly show mercy, lovingly guide me back to where I need to be, living in harmony and seeing beyond myself to the big picture of the Kingdom and all that He has prepared and is preparing for all of us there. There is more than enough for all at His table. Remind me, Lord, that when I content myself and find my full satisfaction in You, there is no sweeter delight and peace to be found any where at any time. Help me show my kids true contentment and profound joy. Help me be an example of sweet rest and trust in Your provision and kindness, to lead in repentance, and to be marked by grace. May we all continually crown You King daily, hourly, for all our days.