Forgetful & Ungrateful & Always-Wanting-More
Earlier tonight I had the following interaction with my daughter. All names have been changed to protect the guilty.
Me: Guess what? Tomorrow you get to go to [your very best friend since you were two days old whom you ask to see every day and generally find your greatest joy in her presence]’s house tomorrow!
Daughter: Okay…could I go somewhere else instead? Like [much lesser tier friend who she’s had maybe two play dates with in her life and never talks about]’s house?
Me: Sweetie, how about you work on being grateful that you get to go to [I-love-you-more-than-life-itself-friend]’s house.
Daughter: Okay, but do you think someone else could come to her house, too?
Me: No, sweetie...how about you work on being grateful that you get to go to [BF4ever]’s house?
Daughter: Okay, but do you think I could sleep over?
This was tonight's conversation, but there was a similar one yesterday and the day before. I want to grab my little girl by the shoulders: “Don’t you know how good you have it? You have everything!” She lives an extravagant life, but it's often "not enough."
Then, I remember: God created us to want more.
My friend and very. favorite. speaker on all things wife&mother-hood, Laurie Reyes (visit her blog: Ordinary Mother for pure gold), talks about a similar time when she took her gang to Chuck E. Cheese only for her son to ask on the way home, “Can we stop for ice cream?” While I would be fighting the temptation to yell the threat that we will never do anything fun, ever again, my oh-so-wise friend saw God at work.
There is something else to see in my child’s heart. Maybe the fact that he isn’t easily satisfied could work to his benefit. We have heard the C.S Lewis quote that says something to the effect that the problem is that we are too easily satisfied with inferior pleasures. So a child who isn’t easily satisfied with Chuck E. Cheese...is perhaps better postured to see his hungry soul’s need for satisfaction in God. Perhaps this child’s capacity to worship is a bit greater than others…it’s the object of this passionate worship that must be addressed...When I look with eyes of faith at this boy of mine, I don’t just see the discontent and ingratitude that needs to be addressed, I see the hungry heart of a future worship leader.
This is, of course, considerably more insightful than my diagnosis of my own child, which was in a word: Brat. Sure, my girl's sin taints this God-given drive for pleasure and satisfaction. But it was given by God, and it can be redeemed by God.
Then, I remember, there were these people: the Israelites.
You know, the Israelites, God's beloved, chosen people? To quote one of my favorite sources of deep theology and spiritual encouragement, The Jesus Storybook Bible (no joke here...buy it this moment if you don't have it, kids or no kids) about these ever-wanting-more, forgetful people:
“We don’t like it!” they said. “It stinks!”...Now remember - because this is something they’d forgotten - God had done amazing things for his people. He’d hidden them inside a cloud. He’d moved the sea. He’d set them free. But God’s people still weren’t happy…"God doesn’t want us to be happy,” they said...They thought they could do a better job of looking after themselves and making themselves happy...But God knew there was no such thing as happiness without him…"The whole earth belongs to me!” God said. “But I have chosen you - you are my special family.”
God's people were weak and helpless and continually, miraculously rescued by Him. They turned on Moses, turned on the prophets, turned on the Son He sent to save them. He knew they would be like this, and He chose them anyway. God has always been about loving and rescuing the ungrateful.
Then, I remember, there is this person: ME.
Here I am, living this life, with this man, this family, this home, and this great joy of knowing Jesus. And yet I want more. I complain about wifi signals and cold coffee and traffic jams. I stress over all these silly by-products of the extravagant blessings I've been given. I think a little more will make me happy. I complain. I forget.
God has always been about rescuing forgetful, ungrateful people. And not just "those" people, in a distant, don't-look-at-me sort of way. I am one of those people. My first step in teaching my daughter gratitude is to learn gratitude.
Before I throw out that terrible, comes-to-mind-too-often word (B-R-A-T), before I throw out a self-righteous jab (“How could you be so ungrateful?”), I stop and remember. I remember who I am, I remember how us-chidren-of-His have always been, I remember that, though we've distorted it, He made us to be this way. I remember.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. -Psalm 103:2-5