I'm sure you've been there as a parent. You've told your child what to do and she won't budge. She wants control. She wants what she wants and won't let go. I was in that place last night. We were at a stand still. Just me and my oldest daughter. But instead of getting angry and demanding that she obey me, I realized that I needed to help her see what was going on in her heart. After talking to her about it for awhile, she didn't seem to understand. In fact, she told me that I was the one who didn't understand her -- which was probably true! By the grace of God, I stayed calm as she grew more and more emotional. Finally, I thought it was best to leave her on her bed as I went to pray and ask God for wisdom.
Of all things, he led me to pick up a ball laying on the carpet right outside her bedroom door. I looked at it and I thought, "God, would you help me and my daughter to understand what's going on here? I don't know what to do." Then, I just opened the door with the ball in my hand believing that he would come through as I sat next to my girl on her bed. I showed her the ball and said, "Emie, this ball represents what Emie wants." And so I gave it to her and told her to hold it close to her chest. I explained to her that there are many things that she wants, but she can't always have what she wants. She needs to let go and let her daddy help her with these choices. I looked at her and said, "Emie, this is hard, isn't it? It's hard to let go of the control. It's hard to let go of the ball. We want to hold onto it, don't we?" Then I told her that I'm the same way. I want what I want and I don't want anybody taking that away.
At this point she seemed confused and asked a great question. But Daddy, "You always get what you want. You always have the ball. How come I don't get to do what I want, like you do?" I paused for a moment then looked at her and said, "Emie, God gave you a Daddy who loves you and wants to help you understand what it is you really want. And as you keep growing up you will be able to make more choices on your own. But I want to tell you something. If you keep holding onto what you want you will end up sad and frustrated. But if you are willing to let go and trust Daddy you will be happy. You know why? Because as you willingly give me the ball, we'll meet in the middle (I put the ball between us) and you'll see that what I want for you is really what you want too. Do you know why? Because we're actually both taking what we want and lifting it up to God and asking him what He wants. (We lifted up the ball together). You see, Emie, we're giving up control and letting him have the ball."
Emie smiled. By God's grace I think it clicked. We hugged and asked God to help us let go and give up our control. Emie loved the little activity and asked if she could write about it in her journal. This is part of what she wrote (she gave me permission!) in her own words:
Emie's Journal Entry -- March 15, 2010
Ball repersents: What I want
If I kept holding on to what Emie wants I would get sad but if I say here you go Daddy and give him what Emie wants then it's like we stick together with what Emie wants and we be happy and God is happy too.
2nd Grade, page 26.
Well said, Emie. Little did you know that you're the one teaching me to let go and trust God.