My daughters have two very different personalities. My firstborn’s theme song could be “Miss Independent”. She has been self-sufficient since day one, always sleeping better alone in her crib than in our arms. As a baby, she was content to be in the swing, or with toys on a blanket. And she constantly found ways of doing things herself with no help from momma, thank-you-very-much. I once took her with me to a fitness boot camp, and she sat contentedly in her carseat the entire time. She even rocked herself by kicking her feet in rhythm. It turns out, not all babies do that. Who knew? Well, everyone I met made sure I knew.
So when I was pregnant with our second daughter, I was prepared for a baby who was a little more “needy.” And needy she was. I learned to live my life one-handed because she wanted to be held 24/7. Even sleeping independently was a challenge for her. Anything could interrupt her sleep and when it did, it seemed being close to us was the only thing that would soothe her. I realize now that Willa was actually the “normal” baby, and Audrey was the anomaly.
If I’m honest, my natural tendency leans far more in the Audrey direction. I writhe against dependence with every muscle I possess. I desperately want to be self-sufficient. Relying on others requires vulnerability, something from which I recoil as a natural instinct. Who would want to appear weak when strong is the new sexy? Who wants to seem needy when our society celebrates competency?
The gift of motherhood is that it brings you to the end of yourself unlike anything else I’ve experienced. And coming to the end of yourself is the first stepping stone on the path of faith. There are so many aspects of following Jesus that challenge me, but none as constantly as the admonition to approach God with the humility of a dependent child.
"Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." —Jesus (Mark 10:15)
We adults take, earn, and win. Children receive. And the kingdom of God cannot be earned, taken, or won, because it is freely given to us by a loving Father.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” —Jesus (Luke 12:32)
@@It is God who provides, God who cares for us, and God who initiates. Our role is to trust.@@ The scripture that’s becoming the theme of my year is Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” That is a LOT harder than it sounds, my friends, especially that whole “do not lean” part.
Trust is putting your full weight on something. When you sit in a chair, you trust it, so you don't tense up your quad muscles like you’re doing a squat. You trust the chair is going to hold you and you don't plan for contingencies.
Contingency plans are my jam. I ALWAYS temper my expectations and devise ways to catch myself--you know, in case God doesn’t. (As if he’s ever not caught me: my life is one long story about God’s faithfulness.) This has been a lifelong cycle for me: I get too independent and hold God at a relative distance, clutching tightly to my self-made safety nets. So God inevitably points out my stiff arm and calls me into deeper trust, usually with an invitation to do something scary. Being aware of my independent tendencies is only half the battle. I still have to be intentional about this trust because my heart hates dependency, so it will scheme and contort and make up a plan B…and C, and D...
But God wants to be my plan A-Z and beyond. To trust him with all my heart means to let go of all other dependencies, including my own competency (which, in itself, is laughable anyway). This letting go, this surrendering, is not a one-time choice but a daily one. For the past month I’ve started my days this way: when I press the button that starts my coffee, I begin mentally reciting the familiar verse from Proverbs, meditating on it before I’m able to think or begin anything else. And slowly my mind rearranges the words: “I trust you, Lord, with all my heart, and I choose not to lean on my understanding.” I picture myself falling with only God as my safety net, and I rest in his faithfulness.
Beginning my days with this conscious trust is shaping the way I live the subsequent hours. I’m making different choices than if I were still holding onto my backup plans. I’m cultivating different daily practices and I’m making different parenting decisions. I can’t tell you where this path leads, but I can tell you that this journey is already rewarding. It’s not “safe” out here, but the freedom I feel is already worth it.
So would you consider joining me on this journey of childlike trust? When you wake up tomorrow, before you even have time to develop contingency plans, choose to let go. Fall into God, with the faith that he will catch you.