As someone who struggles with idolizing comfort, I find that my prayer life often reflects this desire. Most often, it takes the form of requests for things to go “the easy way.”
For example, this week, I watched a friend’s 2-year-old boy while she had a doctor’s appointment. The kid is going through the terrible twos phase and is also having a hard time adjusting to competing with his new younger brother for attention (he’s been “dethroned”). In other words, the normally sweet little boy is a bit of a handful at the moment.
So, my prayers before going over there were that he would be sedate, sleep lots, and amuse himself well. Basically, I wanted the easy way of babysitting.
But that’s not what I got. When I showed up, he had a cold, so he was extra cranky. He hadn’t slept well that night, so he was overtired. And he was mid tantrum over not wanting to open the door, or some such thing.
Mommy left, and he proceeded to scream after her for about 20-30 minutes: “I want mommy,” etc.
This wasn’t the easy babysitting scenario I’d imagined. In fact, it was turning out to be one of the hardest I’ve ever encountered.
Not having a toddler of my own, I was a bit at a loss about how to handle him. So I prayed for some help. And I got it.
I got a good dose of wisdom how to handle the tantrum (which basically involved letting him sit and cry while I checked in on him every few minutes to see if he wanted to keep crying or do something fun). Once he got it out of his system, I gave him some choices for playtime, and we played Playdoh, did artwork, and watched some kids TV. I even managed to get him to eat his lunch, purely by the grace of God.
My energy levels have been super low lately, usually necessitating a nap in the afternoon. But I wasn’t going to get one that afternoon. And God gave me the energy and strength to keep up with the little guy, despite my typical pregnancy induced exhaustion.
So even though my prayer didn’t get the answer I was hoping for (basically, it was “no”), God chose the best route. I got to rely on his strength and see how he could provide for me in a tough childcare situation. And this gave me some hope for the future, as I’m anticipating caring for my own little one with her own behavior issues to handle.
I know that in my own strength, I won’t be able to keep up with her. And I’m not wise enough to figure out all the discipline issues. But my afternoon with a cranky two-year-old taught me that I’ve got a God who is there to help me through it. And I’m a little less freaked out about what the future holds.