God used my worst shopping trip ever to remind me that I too, am just a child. The story began in a Christian bookstore where my three-year-old son, fifteen-month-old daughter, and I were looking for Mother’s Day gifts. I had debated whether we should stop in the not-so-kid-friendly store, but knew we wouldn’t be in town for a while, so decided to take the risk. We’ve had a few minor struggles during shopping trips, but nothing drastic, so I trusted this day would be the same.
Well, my son, J.D., decided shopping wasn’t his activity of choice, which led to an experience I soon won’t forget. I was holding Joy looking at the cards when he decided to go on an adventure. He headed up the stairs that led to the storage room, labeled for employees only. As I said, “Stop!” J.D. proceeded to do what he always does when trouble is on the way – run! After a look of concern from the clerk, I headed up the stairs and thru a maze of boxes to find my son hiding in the corner. We went back down, I described his future punishment, and then approached the counter embarrassed and feeling like a failure.
I apologized to the clerk and she kindly told J.D., “listen to your mom – she knows what’s best.” Then in an attempt to make me feel better, she said something about little boys not being made for shopping. How true!!
I left in a state of anger, but before things hit the boiling point, my emotions shifted to guilt and thoughts of doubt. I asked myself, “What kind of Mom am I? Who lets their child run through the store? Can I do this? Will he ever listen?” Then I was reminded there’s only one perfect parent and when I let God play the role of Father, I am a child myself.
I thought of the times I have also ran when trouble was approaching or when I should speak up, but remain quiet. I recalled mistakes I had made, people I let down, and motives that were wrong. I was reminded of the times I didn’t listen intently – like when J.D. told the same story again and again or when my husband described his hunting trips. I thought of the times when I don’t obey - like when God is leading me in one direction and I choose to go a different way. I thought of how upset I was with my son and wondered what that meant about how God felt towards me.
Then I glanced in the rear view mirror to see J.D. sleeping peacefully. He looked so innocent and at that moment I knew I forgave him. Eventually, I’ll even take him shopping again; maybe in 20 years, but I still believe someday he will obey. He is my son and I will always love him. As I had these thoughts, I remembered I too am a child and my Father loves me even more than I love J.D.
I know how God feels towards me – like any parent, He’s hurt when I go the wrong way, but He also knows lessons are learned when mistakes are made. He forgives me and every morning gives me a chance to try again. Just like I won’t quit on my son, He’s continually molding me into the woman He knows I can become.
Growing up, we dream of answers to the question, “Who will I be?” “A teacher. A doctor. A designer. Maybe a lawyer or engineer. How about a singer or movie star!” The list goes on and on and changes every year. Now I’m an adult and have answers to that question, but I’m thankful my son reminded me of the best answer we can give – “Who am I? A child, a child of God.”