It all started with frozen pizza. Now don’t get me wrong. I love frozen pizza, and have often turned to it in a pinch as a viable supper for my family. But you also have to understand that this was my birthday. Frozen pizza on one’s birthday is uninspiring at best…
The first part of the day had been wonderful. We were able to spend the day at Greenfield Village in Detroit with my aunt and uncle, whose season passes got all of us in for free. The kids had a great time riding the old Model T’s, the carousel, the steam engine, and the horse-drawn buggy, and the weather was beautiful for walking around. We got to know my aunt and uncle better, so really, the day had been lovely until we got in the car to drive back home and realized we really didn’t have a dinner plan. With an hour and a half trip home and a tired baby in the backseat who hadn’t gotten a normal nap and was a poor car traveler at the best of times, we knew our options were limited. During the trip we went from “Hey, what restaurant do you want? Let’s find a microbrewery or something!” to “You know, we could just drive home, put her to bed, and order takeout,” to “There’s always Hungry Howie’s,” to “Well, we do have a frozen pizza at home…” You can guess which option we chose. Nothing makes you feel special like eating frozen pizza on your birthday, let me tell you. But here’s the thing- I made sure everyone else knew just how “special” I felt. I put the baby to bed and then proceeded to- oh, it’s humiliating to write it, but I know you’ve had moments like this- then proceeded to lie down and…well, pout. There, I said it. There’s no use trying to sugarcoat the thing. I was basically throwing an adult temper tantrum. I’d love to tell you that I rallied and came out to join my family for a pleasant dinner, but the fact is that the rest of the evening was fairly icy. Yep. Score one for Mommy. Adult behavior at its best.
Now take a look with me at the very next day. My husband and I dropped our girls off with my mom while we took our boys, then ages 9 and 7, out for an afternoon of kayaking. We had a nice lunch at Steak and Shake, enjoyed a great two hours teaching the boys to kayak, and had a cookout at my parents’ house afterward. Back home that night as I was getting my 7-year old ready for bed, he got mad about losing some cheap toy. He was furious, and his crying and yelling filled the house. At one point he screamed, “This is the WORST day of my LIFE!!” Of course any parent who has had a child in such a meltdown mode realizes that reasoning with them is impossible, but nonetheless I tried. I said, “Are you kidding me? You just had a great day! We went kayaking, we ate at one of your favorite restaurants, and we had a cookout at Grandma and Grandpa’s house! You’re seriously going to let one little thing like this ruin your entire day? Do you have any idea how spoiled you sound right now?” Ouch. Um, yeah, Ruth, remember yesterday? I was ashamed to realize that in many ways, I still have childish behaviors that I haven’t outgrown.
Let’s be honest here. How many of you can relate? Haven’t you been there too? Even if you don’t pout about frozen pizza, how often have you complained to God about something that isn’t right according to your own standards? As I tried to reason with my child, it occurred to me that when we are called “children of God” it works both ways. On the one hand, children are incredibly immature. They pout, they whine, they throw tantrums, and they are completely self-centered. Is that why we are likened to children? Are we really like that too? Yes. Yes, we are. That’s the Law convicting us.
But there’s another side to children. They are so innocent, trusting, and clear-minded it puts most adults to shame. You don’t have to reason with a kid about God’s existence- they just accept the fact that He does indeed exist. You don’t have to argue with a kid about creation vs evolution because they have that simple trust that God created the world out of nothing, and evolution therefore makes no sense at all. Kids just accept things as they are. Their own “reason” doesn’t get in the way. Children have that pure faith that believes what Jesus says even when they don’t understand it. And here we have the Gospel. God calls us His children because He loves us as a dear father loves His own children. I know my own husband wouldn’t bat an eye to give his life for any one of our children if the situation called for it, and in a much grander sense, God did the exact same thing for us, His own children.
So really when it comes down to it, maybe the focus here isn’t so much on us, the children, as it is on our Heavenly Father. Unlike sinful human parents, our Father is perfect. He cares for us, protects us, provides for us, and yes, even disciplines us when needed. He is never too busy to listen to our requests, but He doesn’t always give us what we want, either. Like any good parent He knows what’s best, and sometimes the things for which we ask aren’t in our better interests. We are a part of His family, and He has guaranteed our place with Him and all our fellow believers in heaven for eternity. It’ll be the best family reunion ever. Even if they do serve frozen pizza.