Friday, April 3, 2009

Fresh Joy!

It’s a rarity when I get a pleasant moment with my 3 and a half year old daughter. She’s strong-willed and stubborn (“where does she get that from?” - yeah, I know LOL). However, there are those rare times where her sweetness/cuteness really shines through and I can see God working in her. Today, I experienced one of those moments with her:

I was washing the dishes (a chore I hate to do and that aggravates my back and neck pain). I tried to make the chore a happier one by listening to some praise and worship music and singing to my sweet Jesus. As I finished up the last of the dishes, Gianna pulled up a chair next to me and stood on it. She gave me a hug, laid her head on my shoulder, and then stood on her tip-toes to give me a kiss. I looked at her bright blue eyes and her adorable little smile and was grateful for her sweetness. Then, she eagerly asked me if she could wash the dishes (Oooo!! Every parent’s dream! LOL). Well, I let her “wash” the last item I had in my hand, and then decided I would let her help me dry the dishes. I had her wash her grubby hands first, and then I got her a towel and we both got to work.

Taking advantage of the moment, I tried to show her how to dry them off. She was so excited about “helping” that she couldn’t (and wouldn’t) pay attention to any instructions. She barely dried anything that she put her hands on! Then, she would hand them to me as I tried to dry what she missed (which was pretty much everything!). I couldn’t keep up with her because she was just rushing through everything she could grab!! I told her to slow down and to wait. She needed those constant reminders in order to control her enthusiasm a little. In fact, she reminded me a lot of myself.

That’s when God showed me what my “enthusiasm” was like. While it IS a good thing, I need to slow down and wait a lot more often. If I get ahead of myself (or God) we are going to be out of sync. I’ll make more work for Him, myself, and others around me if I rush through things. He’ll have to stop me more often to correct me and show me how to do things right. If I don’t listen, my efforts won’t amount to much and He’ll have to keep cleaning up the stuff I missed in my haste. How grateful I am for His patience and willingness to teach me!!

The other thing I realized is just how thrilled Gianna was by a task that most of us do not enjoy. New things often have that thrill to them. It may be old hash to someone else, but it’s brand spankin’ new to the one who‘s trying it for the first time! Though, over time (and with maturity) the newness loses its luster and we become comfortable in it the more experience we get and the more we perfect our technique. It’s a double edged sword. While I can look forward to the fact that she will do a better job at the task, her joy in doing it might wane. I remember when my Mom first showed me how to do dishes, I thought it was exciting and fun because you got to wash all the crud away and see the cleanness revealed as you rinsed everything off the dishes. I felt like Cinderella; a beautiful, dutiful, and helpful princess! Being able to serve and fulfill a need or purpose made me feel important. Maybe that’s one reason Gianna is enjoying it (or enjoying pressing the button on the dryer, throwing away trash whenever she sees it, or sweeping up bits of stuff on the floor). She is learning to serve out of a sense of purpose and joy. As that is refined, she will get better in her maturity. Yet, it’s that maturity that somehow causes one to lose that joy that we had when we were learning and engaging the very first time.

Trying to instruct her “majesty” was MY great joy. I got to share a moment with her, and it also made the task go faster. It served as an opportunity for both of us to accomplish something and to try and bond in our relationship (thank You, Father, for hearing my prayers about that!). It further emphasized the importance of engaging with God and nurturing my relationship/friendship with Him by communicating, listening, and enjoying His presence and instruction through prayer. Through my growing maturity, that relationship gets better and I am refined by Him and growing stronger in my faith. However, I don’t want to lose the joy of my “first love” in the process of “maturing“. I don‘t want to “mellow out“ with age. The eagerness and newness is what makes the relationship so fresh and beautiful. I don’t want to lose my passion, joy, and enthusiasm!! Sometimes, I’m “extreme”, but I want to learn how to better contain it, not constrain it! “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart………to stay!!” So there!! LOL

I truly want to have faith like a child because with children, we see how great the simple daily things can be when we take joy in it. All the “meaningless” things “under the sun” can have NEW meaning if we just keep coming back to the joy of that “first time.” Psalm 51:12 puts it perfectly: “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”

Grace and peace to all of you!! May we all be able to delight in the Lord (and in the simple things) by remembering the joy of the “first time.” May your maturity in Christ only increase your enthusiasm and passion for Him; and fill you with “fresh joy“ every day!! God bless you all!!

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