Often I find that there are important lessons learned from listening to my children. It’s not that they are wise or that they are consciously teaching adults, it’s that there are so many things that they themselves are learning…and the lessons are often so simple and poignant that I can’t help but grow from being with them.
Eldest and Middle Child have been planning to become guinea pig breeders for months now. They have done the research, they had drawn up a business plan, they had made numerous phone calls to pet store, other breeders, and the president of the local guinea pig club. They had saved up enough money to purchase the animals and cages, and we had scheduled a trip to a guinea pig show in a nearby city. They were beyond excited, and proud to have done all the work (a prerequisite that was imposed by yours truly).
On a whim, early in the week we were to go to the show and purchase the animals, we stopped by a pet store and asked to hold a guinea pig. It was cute. It was fuzzy. It was sweet and snuggly.
And Eldest broke out in hives, everywhere the guinea pig touched. Big, itchy, angry red welts. A minute later, his nose also started running like a faucet. Allergic? Seriously? Just to rule out the possibility that it might have been something (anything?) else, we waited a day or two and tried again. Big, itchy hives.
What a disappointment! All that work, and all that planning. They already had names picked out. Middle Child in particular had been so excited about the project that she had required frequent warnings….”please, no more guinea pig talk”. She couldn’t wait to groom them, feed them, even clean out their cages.
The kids were heartbroken over the disappointment. Middle Child especially had many tears to shed over the loss of their dream. We comforted, we commiserated, we encouraged them to move on. My heart really hurt for them.
And then, at dinner that night…
We sat around the table, praying over the food. And before we could say “amen,” Middle Child had something to add. “And thank you, God, for letting us know that Isaiah is allergic to guinea pigs before we brought them home.”
Thank You, God. The sweetest prayer, the hardest thing to say when your prayers have been answered with no. At that moment, I couldn’t have been more proud of my little girl…all the research, the planning, the work put into her dream was an important accomplishment. But a far greater lesson, a lesson that is life-changing to those who are able to accept it is: Submission with gratitude. Lord, I want this but it is not Your will. I submit to that, and I thank You for protecting me from having something that You know would not be best for me.
How many times do I whine and complain about hearing “No”? How many times do I look back on life and regret the “no’s“, wishing that I could have had what I wanted? My nature is to rage against loss and failure, rather than to look for the good in it and embrace it as part of God’s loving protection. Sometimes the losses are simple desires that I can do without. Sometimes, they are life-changing events, losses that seem to make no sense and have no benefit whatsoever. And yet like a little child, we need to somehow find the strength to say Thank You. Thank you for the grace to get through, however haltingly. Thank you for giving me the strength to get through this one day. Thank you for knowing what is best for me and for protecting me from having everything I want…because so much of what I want would be damaging in ways that I cannot understand.
The sweetest prayer…and the hardest….Submission and thanksgiving in the face of hardship.