Tonight I was searching for God’s answers to some big prayers. As I wrote about our day, I realized this evening’s events are a perfect example of the way I experience God’s answers in my everyday mom moments.
Last time we saw him was a night we weren’t planning a big meal, so we chased the converted school bus down the road, but couldn’t catch him to get any ice cream. I had promised we would try again another day.
But here was the darned ice cream truck 15 minutes before a dinner that had literally been in the works for 24 hours. My answer to her sweet, excited little plea was, “not tonight.” Despite all the signs (like wafting hickory scents from the smoker), she couldn’t see the delicious meal that she was seconds away from enjoying.
Instantly pools of disappointment filled her eyes. Her bottom lip quavered. I wanted to hug her and wipe those tears away, but she was so upset that she pushed me back and ran away. I watched her sadly; then I followed her.
She sat in a ball of hurt on the bed, tears making muddy trails down her dusty cheeks. She didn’t understand why I wouldn’t let her have this good thing. Ice cream is good, isn’t it? I listened to her try to rationalize why I would say no. Watching her struggle to understand something so simple for us mommies made me see how my human thinking would struggle to understand God’s answers, too.
I sat waiting for her to calm down and be ready to listen. She was still trying to catch her breath when I pulled her onto my lap, wrapping my arms tightly around her. I brushed her hair away from her face, stroking her grubby cheek gently.
“I know you are disappointed. You can’t have ice cream right before dinner.” In terms she would understand, I explained we had something better for her, something that would really fill her up, make her strong and healthy.
As she sat on my lap, wanting her own way, she was sweaty and dusty and smelly. She was probably covered in chiggers from playing in the trees. I wouldn’t want to hug anyone else in that condition. But she was my hurting child, and I wanted to comfort her more than I wanted to clean her up.
As I wiped away her muddy tears, I told her about the dessert I had planned, how it would be so much better than the ice cream truck treat. She listened to me, let me hold her, and we read together, the sound of my voice comforting her.
After a dinner of fresh BBQ pork, collard greens, corn, and rice with a glass of milk, she got her dessert of ice cream melting over a bed of pound cake covered in homemade strawberry topping with whipped cream. Then I scooped her up and scrubbed her in the tub, fresh and new, after I had fed her and honored my promise.
In one evening God showed me
- how ‘what I want when I want it’ doesn’t account for the myriad ways I cannot see His plan coming together in His timing,
- how what He has planned is far better than what I thought I wanted;
- I see how He pursues us in our hurts and disappointments,
- how He comforts and loves us even when we’re dirty messes,
- how He feeds us milk then meat, sometimes giving us dessert blessings, too;
- then how he lovingly cleans us up, making us new and fresh.
- and how He answers even just my prayers for encouragement in spades.
I prayerfully sought some encouragement tonight, and God answered me through a sadistic ice cream man who really needs to visit after dinnertime.