My daughter loves wearing trainers, so I took her to buy some new ones. The sales assistant offered her three options in her size. Purple ones (with glitter), green ones (with a robot trim), and finally, navy ones. They all fitted – (and they were all fabulous), but she wasn’t keen.
‘No, no, no.’
It was late and the shop was closing, so I asked, ‘Are you sure?’
‘Yes. None of these.’
‘Ok,’ I said. ‘If you’re not going to wear them, then we won’t get them.’
She trotted happily out of the shop and I permitted myself a small note of mental congratulation. Such a biddable child.
We started making our way home, in uncharacteristic silence. Then, up she piped.
‘Mummy…you know the green shoes? Mummy I really liked them.’
‘Oh,’ I said. ‘I’m sorry honey, but you said you didn’t want them.’
‘Mummy, why did I say no?’
‘Mummy, I was only joking’
‘Mummy I was saying ‘no’ to something else.
‘Mummy why didn’t you stop me/tell me!’
I tried my best to answer. But the situation quickly escalated. As we travelled past the house with the purple curtains and up to the tree that looks like a finger, Ruby too went on a journey, from shock, through anger, to recrimination and eventually grief.
‘Mummy, I LOVED those shoes’
‘But they were the BEST shoes in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD’
‘Mummy I am SO SO SAD’ (choking sobs)
I gave her a hug and tried to reassure her, ‘I’m sorry you’re sad. Maybe we can look at them tomorrow?’
‘But SOMEBODY ELSE WILL GET THEM. SOMEBODY ELSE will take MY SHOES’
‘We’ll talk to Daddy.’
In my head, I’d prepared a great little homily for Ruby on the relative importance of shoes versus say, people. But as I comforted her, I began to wonder if I needed to hear them myself.
My Father gives me an abundance of good things…yet it doesn’t feel like enough.
I’m convinced I know what’s best for me; but I don’t know what I need; or even what I want.
I become obsessed with what my life is missing; instead of seeing what I already have.
I take God’s gifts and make them into gods, but ignore the fact that He’s right here and He’s given me everything already.
I’m scared there’s only a certain amount of good stuff out there and I must fight to get my share.
I lie and shout and blame others; when it’s me who’s made mistakes.
I often put stuff (rushing home in time for dinner) in front of people (the person I bump into, who needs to talk).
My heart is a toddler who’s been denied what she wants. But thank God; I’ve got a Father who loves me in my weakness. Who sympathises with my wanting and supplies all my needs. Who comforts and consoles me, who forgives me and teaches me to walk in faith; with or without green shoes.