Let me introduce you to D–a five-year-old with one of the biggest pouts known to man and the most furrowed brow I’ve ever seen a little girl display. She wears this face rather often, and it’s quite a site to behold. One cannot help but laugh when seeing her disgruntled demeanor. However, I find it interesting and yet humbling that this face, her demeanor, taught me one of the greatest lesson’s I’ve learned recently.
D attends a tutoring program I help run. She started the tutoring program pretty late in the game and has only been there a couple times. Yet somehow I managed to be the one to have an interesting interaction with her.
One night, I noticed “the face.” She was sitting in the middle of the gym floor, obviously upset about something. I sat down in front of her and inquired her about her saddened disposition. With tears streaming down her face, she cried aloud, “No one will play duck, duck, goose with me!” I held back my laughter at her seemingly ridiculous plight. I realized that to a five-year-old, this was serious business. I pointed out to her that there were many other children playing jump rope and basketball, and encouraged her to join. My advice was met with a strong headshake, and her crossed arms grew tighter. I told her that it doesn’t matter if we really, really want something, it might just not be what we get. Obviously, this sort of advice never goes over well with small children. After realizing she would not magically be enlightened by this thought, I went with some good advice my dad gave me–let them come to their own realization. Ask questions.
I looked at D and said, “Are you having fun? Do you like sitting in the middle of the floor crying? Because to me, playing jump rope and basketball looks like a lot of fun, but I don’t know about crying. Crying doesn’t seem like fun … are you having any fun?” She looked at me as though I had just asked her the most stupid question in the world–which I suppose I had. However, it worked. Her demeanor started to change. She suddenly realized that her friends were having way more fun than she was, even though it wasn’t playing duck, duck, goose. I then asked her, “Should we make a good decision and start having fun, instead of sitting here NOT having fun?” At this point, she wiped the tears from her eyes, stood up and determined we should play basketball.
During my drive home, I snickered thinking about D and the interaction we just had. It was then that my laughter slowly turned into a dreaded realization. I have a friend who used to ask, “Were you just hit by a holy 2×4?” Now, I realize that’s somewhat of a cheesy statement, but it was totally true in this case. It was as if God said, “Oh yeah? Know anyone else who sits on the floor pouting when they don’t get exactly what they want?”
With the holidays upon us, it’s easy for me to be saddened by the fact that I will be spending yet another holiday season single and childless. I can’t wait to carry the title "wife," and I hope and pray for the day when I can finally have children to call my own (I especially hope to adopt). And for the past couple weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I was dreading having to spend the holidays alone. I was like D, sitting in the middle of the floor, pouting, asking God why yet again, I have to do this. And this has not been the only thing on my list. There’s been my car which isn’t 100 percent satisfactory to me, I don’t have a place of my own, I haven’t been able to backpack across Europe yet, and the list goes on. These things that are all such "serious business" to me, of such great desire, probably sound like “No one will play duck, duck, goose with me.”
Then, I thought about this: There are people this holiday season who literally have no one: no family, no friends, no one. There are people around the world who don’t have a place to sleep, or a place to eat or even a place to feel safe. There are people who don’t have any transportation and are required to use their feet to travel many miles. There are people who haven’t seen anything other than their neighborhood. When thinking of these things, my simple and somewhat lofty desires seem so unimportant.
I do not mean to say all these things aren’t important–some of them probably are. In fact, I have friends who are struggling to have children, and it is a very serious thing for them. These situations are important to God. But the lesson I learned from D went a bit further. How often do I sit with my arms folded, refusing to engage in all the great things around me just because life didn’t turn out the way I had hoped? Yes, it’s ok to desire things. Yes, it’s ok to be sad when they don’t happen. But what if I’m missing the rest of the riches God has for me because I’m don’t have what I deem as “most important”. What if God has something so much more wonderful to show me in the games of jump rope and basketball?
By no means have I moved beyond the game of duck, duck, goose that my little friend D has … I still have my pouting moments. But the 2×4 definitely left a dent in my head that will be hard to ignore.