Make me much more--and much less--like my toddler
Everyone calls them "the terrible twos." I think "the erratic, wonderful, odd, enjoyable, peculiar, rewarding and even the inconsistent twos" may be a better fit now that I’m experiencing them as the dad of a toddler.
As I’m quickly learning, these are also words that accurately describe my walk with God.
I became a parent on July 22, 2014 at 8:08 pm. Although people always tell you nothing will prepare you for the experience to the point that it becomes a cliché, it’s an absolutely true statement.
Without hesitation, I can say I’ve learned more in the past 25 months than I ever could have imagined. Not just about my child, not just about my wife or myself, but also about my relationship with God. Becoming a father helps reveal the love of the Father in a new way.
Lately, as my son enters full blown toddler-mode, God has been showing me even more about my relationship with him--the good and bad parts alike.
So as I continue to unpack what God is teaching me, here’s a simple yet honest prayer based upon what I’ve discovered so far.
A dad's prayer to be more...and less...like his toddler
Lord, help me to love your presence.
Last night, my son and I walked to the park by our house, holding hands, taking our sweet time, and carefully observing all the amazing things along the way, including grass, flowers, cracks in the sidewalk, airplanes, creeks, neighborhood dogs, rocks, cars, and even people sitting outside on their porch.
While I admit I was a bit stressed on my end, still thinking about work pressure and family health issues, my son had no trace of anything but joy just spending time with his dad. He was content and was simply living in the moment.
No cares, no stress--just enjoying the simplicity and wonder of a Wednesday evening.
"Lord, help me to be more like my toddler--craving time with you, enjoying the moments I’m walking with you, and exuding joy and not succumbing to stress and pressures from this world."
Lord, help me to not throw a tantrum.
With all of the amazing learning, talking, and laughing of this age, my son has quickly also become opinionated. He often throws a fit when he doesn’t get his way, or things don’t go as he has planned.
Provide him the wrong sippy cup: Screaming. Grab the wrong bed time book: Crying. Say it’s time to come home from the park so we don’t get rained on or struck by lightning: Seems like a good time to throw yourself on the ground and refuse to move. Little situations that really have no bearing on anything quickly become much bigger problems than they ever should be.
As much as I don’t want to admit it, I see myself acting in a similar fashion with God when I don’t get my way. Unexpected speeding ticket: "Grrrrr… Why now, God?" Fight with my wife about something that I know is really my fault, but I don’t want to admit: "Why is this so hard, God?" Stick to a budget that allows me to honor God with my finances and resources: "But I don’t wanna, God!"
I’m a full-grown man, reverting to a full-blown toddler state. It’s not acceptable for my two-year-old, and it shouldn’t be acceptable for me.
"Lord, help me to not be like my toddler. Help me to trust that you know what’s best in my life. Give me the grace to accept when things don’t go according to my plan and the faith to move forward knowing your path is what I need."
Lord, help me to rest in you completely.
No matter what joys we’ve had, or battles we’ve fought during a day, putting my son to bed always seems to be a special moment for us both. Not because I may get to sneak in the end of a baseball game without interruption after he’s conked out (though admittedly that's a nice perk), but because it’s pure and peaceful.
I can think of no better time than singing to my boy as he’s cuddled up in my arms and his eyes are starting to close. In that moment, being held by his dad, my son experiences rest and freedom from any care. He’s happy.
I’ve felt that. I want that more often. And while I know how to get it, I still fight it.
"Lord, help me to be more like my toddler. Help me to rest deeply in your presence. Grant me freedom from anxiety and worldly burdens and allow me to cast it all on you. Give me deep rest and the confidence to know I’m safe in your arms."