Disclaimer: What follows here might sound absolutely absurd. But here’s the deal—I love Jesus. I have not, and I am not always great at showing that. I am much better at remembering prayers of desperation than prayers of thanks. Quarantine happened to line up with some difficult personal moments for me, and wouldn’t you know it; I suddenly remembered how much I needed Jesus. I have a twenty-two-month-old daughter who is a dream that I have had written on my heart for as long as I can remember. I think that during these months of social distancing, God has used her to teach me some pretty big lessons. My daughter, Lottie, would like to note that she does not necessarily endorse the meanings that I have derived from her behaviors, as described below. Furthermore, she notes that my interpretations are mine alone. I would only like to note that if what follows sounds outrageous, blame it on the quarantine.
Lesson 1—The Ride
As the rainy, early spring faded into the still rainy, late spring, my husband and I decided to get Lottie a bike trailer. It was meant to be a fun Saturday excursion to Dick’s followed by a family bike ride, but this precious toddler of mine lost her ever-loving mind as soon as I attempted to buckle her in her car seat. Tears were streaming down her red cheeks, and I kept whispering to her, “I know you are sad right now, but I promise we are going somewhere good. I know you are sad right now, but I promise you’ll be happy in a little while.” I closed the car door and stood there on the driveway, not yet able to open my own driver’s side door. Gentle reader, I swear to you I could hear God whispering my same words back to me, “I know you are sad right now, but I promise we are going somewhere good.” No, it wasn’t like Mufasa’s voice rolling through thunderhead clouds. But still, I felt my words being pressed back into me, “you are sad right now, but I promise we are going somewhere good.”
Early in quarantine, I had a miscarriage, which was very closely followed by an ectopic pregnancy. And I was very sad. I am very sad. But I could hear Jesus repeating my own words back to me, “I know you are sad right now, but I promise we are going somewhere good.” Lottie couldn’t understand or know what was to come any more than I could understand or know what was to come. And I didn’t want to be on this ride of loss any more than Lottie wanted to be on a car ride. But there was good coming, and we didn’t have to ride alone.
Lesson 2—The Waffles
Lottie flipping loves waffles. For a while, I only bought the Kodiak power protein variety that made me feel like a good mom. But wouldn’t you know it, my husband went to the store one Saturday and returned with ‘Frozen 2’ waffles. Now I have the pleasure of watching Anna, Elsa, and Olaf’s little round faces tan in the toaster oven each morning with my toddler’s tortured screams of “Anna! Elsa! Olaf!” twinkling in the fresh morning air.
Lottie always wants both waffles immediately, and she tries to cram them both in her mouth like some sort of carb-starved monster. We’re working on it, but for now, I have to give her one waffle at a time. One morning, my rationing out her waffles was just enough to put her over the edge. She couldn’t understand why she couldn’t have a waffle in each hand and mercilessly cram them into her mouth. I repeated calmly, “I will hold this waffle. When you finish your first waffle, I will give you this one.” There was a lot of screaming, but whatever we got through the morning. However, the scenario imprinted this thought upon me—Jesus’ grace is sufficient. He will take care of me today. And tomorrow he will give me grace anew. Isn’t it just like me to want more than I can handle at once, grabbing and reaching and attempting to secure more and more, when God patiently tells me again and again—you have enough. I will give you what you need each day; don’t you trust me? Clearly, by my fits and cries and desperate prayers, maybe I didn’t trust enough. Maybe Lottie and I could work on this together—a nice little mom and daughter ‘don’t throw a fit’ activity? I don’t know, just spitballing here. The quarantine days are long, and I fear my activity lists run short.
Lesson 3—The Waiting
As much as Lottie loves waffles, Lottie equally hates waiting. And at the risk of making her madder, all I can say is, get in line, sister. Waiting is the pits. Have you ever had to explain to a hungry toddler that food needs to be prepared, and then cooked, and then cool? Woof.
We made cookies one day, and Lottie was all about it until the balls of raw dough were inserted in the oven. Oh, how she wailed with her little nose pressed against the oven door glass. I tried to turn on the oven light and show her how they were rising and turning a delicious golden color. This only led to her hanging all of her twenty-two pounds on the oven door handle with tortured screams of hunger and frustration. The more I tried to explain, the more she screamed, “No! No! No!” So, I held the oven door closed and stood by her. I told her I loved her. There was no amount of logic or reasoning that could reach her right now. There was only me being calm and receiving her fury, frustration, and sadness.
And then I saw myself. Pleading with God. Crying. Wailing. Hanging off the oven door handle attempting to force my will on a situation. Doing everything I possibly could to get another baby right this very instant. And God is there, holding the oven door shut, trying to save me from myself for reasons bigger than I can understand right now. I am trying to unclench my fingers one by one from the oven door so that I can cling to faith in God instead.
And there you have it, gentle reader. Three lessons. Three demonstrations of God’s love for me being bigger than I could possibly grasp even when I am in deep waters of hurt. Or, three examples of me having gone around the proverbial bend and three examples of my toddler needing some serious behavioral interventions. If you prefer the latter, I beg of you, blame it on the quarantine.