Trader Joe’s was absolutely packed, being just a couple of days before Thanksgiving, nevertheless I simply HAD to get some double cream brie (cheese is important to me) and so there we were. I was determined to get in and out as quickly as possible with my 2 and 4 year old in tow.
“In and out” isn’t always an easy task.
There was the time my daughter climbed on the cart, with my son sitting inside, and pulled it down on top of her, nearly injuring both.
There was the time I had to drag a screaming 3 year old out of Target and spend 10 minutes man-handling her into the car seat as she thrashed about.
There were all those moments of grabbing stuff off the shelves, whining for treats, and colliding into other shoppers.
Thankfully, things were going smoothly when an older woman approached me. Actually, she startled me by touching my arm.
“Your kids behave so well” she proclaimed. “What wonderful children!”
I began to mumble something about it not being the norm and you should have seen us this one time at Target… but she wouldn’t allow me to speak, and actually interrupted me instead.
This woman looked me strait in the eye, and I held her gaze, and she said to me slowly, giving each word weight and significance as her hand remained on my arm.
“You are doing a great job”.
And so I did what any rational woman would do in the middle of the grocery store upon hearing these golden words, I started crying.
“Thank you” I said through my tears, still looking into her understanding, older, wiser, ‘been there done that” eyes.
She carried on with her business and I moved my children along the aisle and we finished up.
The kids had in fact behaved magnificently that day.
So had I.
It was one of those days where I felt like I was successful in engaging and directing, having managed to put on my Patient Mommy Pants that morning.
Instead of, you know, my Yelling Mommy Pants or my Lazy Mommy Pants or my Exhausted Mommy Pants or my Distracted Mommy Pants.
It’s not a perfect correlation, but I am always surprised at how much my mood, my tone, my approach and my actions can determine how the kids behave.
Try not to be shocked, but my children don’t just mindlessly obey me (Oh I wish this were true some days. Little robots, that’s exactly what I need, little robots…).
No, my kids don’t mindlessly obey. They respond. They respond to me.
When I simply yell louder, my daughter doesn’t obey more, she just cries.
They respond, whether I’m prepared and doing a good job, wearing Patient Mommy Pants, or not.
Similarly, I have a hard time mindlessly obeying God, but I do have to respond.
In scripture, men and women approached Jesus in many ways and for many things – questions, testing, curiosity, healing, hunger, or teaching – Jesus was always faithful in presenting his Father God.
But how people responded, how they left after encountering Jesus, varied.
Sometimes they left healed, filled, cleansed, redeemed, and saved.
Others left frustrated, sad, and angry.
Unlike myself as a parent who strives for Patient, but sometimes can only muster Yelling or Lazy, Jesus is consistent his multifaceted character.
I am Holy. I am Good. I am Love. I am Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I am creative. I am everywhere. I am power. I am Peace. I am Provider. I am Here. I am Alive. I am King.
And he is consistent in his identity.
I am that I am.
He is consistent in revealing the Father.
And I am left to respond as I encounter God in scripture, in teachings, and in prayer.
Do I leave feeling like a whole new Kingdom had been laid before me full of reconciliation and mercy and salvation?
Or, do I walk away feeling self-righteous and annoyed and in a hurry to erase Jesus’ words from my memory?
Sometimes I am the desperate sinner, other times the skeptical Pharisee.
But God will always be the same.
He will always be the One who came to dwell among us as a tiny, helpless baby born of a virgin.
He will always be the One who gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him shall not die but have eternal life.
He will always be the One who can speak words of truth, comfort and love into my heart – even more so than the nice lady at the grocery store.
He will always be.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
And just like consistency in parenting evokes a certain response in my children, God’s consistency brings Peace to his daughter who cries easily in supermarkets, struggles to keep those Yelling Pants in the drawer, and needs affirmation spoken to the deep parts of her soul.
Peace be with you during this season of Advent because of the God of yesterday, today and tomorrow.