I am beginning to think that everyone is stubborn. That it isn’t a quality that just a few people have. I think it is part of our fallen nature, the ‘wanting our own way to death because we know best’ thing. And even if we realize we are wrong, we dig in our heels even more until we have dug a deep hole. This hole makes it so much harder to concede.
Bananas. Why are bananas such a struggle? Almost every morning, my kids have a banana with breakfast, five slices of banana to be exact. And some days they are gobbled up by all of them, but some days Reuben just refuses. We are getting to that point in toddlerdom where there are more and more battles of the will. And, as ‘MOM’, I am determined to win.
Twice this week, Reuben and I have had the ‘Banana stand-off’. He sits at the table for a half an hour, after his brothers have already had seconds, been cleaned up, and started playing.
He sulks for ten minutes while he thinks it through. I sit at the table so he isn’t alone and I wait.
He whimpers for about ten minutes while I try to convince him of the merits of bananas and display the infinite joy of his brothers, who have eaten their bananas and are playing happily with their toys. I listen as he whines and wait for him to come around.
Then, he lets it all go and cries. Mouth wide, snot flowing, tears streaming, cries. At this point, I hold him, stroke his hair, talk to him about how this is not worth getting so upset over. They are, after all, just bananas.
But even then, I don’t give in. I won’t. I can’t. If he won’t eat those silly browning bananas, in my mind it is a slippery slope of him never listening to me, not finishing anything, and always getting what he wants. If I don’t fight this battle now, I will have to fight it twice as many times on many other fronts, so I might as well get it over with now.
Some of you may be thinking that this is harsh. Some of you may be thinking that this is ridiculous. Some of you may be thinking that this is not a big deal, it’s just bananas right? But, in my house, consistency is crucial. My boys notice EVERYTHING. We are usually pretty good about it, but one time, I made the most amazing brownies and I told the boys that they couldn’t have a brownie until they had eaten five peas. Five. Not much to ask right? Reuben held out and did not eat the peas for a good 20 minutes after everyone else was done. We decided to give him a brownie anyways, because, again I say, they were amazing, and we didn’t want him to miss out. He never ate the five peas either.
After that, for a few days, at every meal when I asked him to finish or to try a certain something, he brought up the ‘brownie incident’. “You remember, Mommy? When I got the brownie without finishing my peas?” Yes, Reuben. I remember. Thank you for pointing out my inconsistencies and humanity. Thanks, buddy.
It is in these parenting moments, these stand offs that, after I get past my initial frustration and impatience towards my offspring, I see just how amazing and loving God is towards us.
I think about how stubborn I am. I think about how I dig in my heels and think I know what is right and just. God waits.
I start whining, whimpering, asking, “Why God do I have to do this?” “I don’t see the point”. He listens.
Then I cry out, and it becomes the end of the world, this little ‘banana’ task becomes something that I can’t emotionally handle. God holds me, comforts me.
But the big difference here is that God is unchanging—hallelujah! There is no inconsistency in His parenting. He doesn’t just say, “You know what, Joanna, since you are making such a fuss about this, I am going to let you off the hook.” He is not phased by my stubborn tantrums. He loves perfectly in discipline.
I could get off the chair. I could throw the bananas in His face, but then where would I be? I would miss out on what God has for me in the ‘bananas’. I wouldn’t get to see Him move and reveal His love in new ways to me through that task. I don’t want to move out of where He wants me to be because I know from experience that is not the best place to be living my life. I obey God because I love him. I obey because of His perfect love for me. Which also means, I can trust Him.
Where are you being stubborn with God? Just reach up and grab His hand. He will help you out of the hole you dug for yourself. If you trust in Him, you can trust that the bananas won’t hurt you and they may even help. Give in to what God is asking of you so we can all go play. And just eat the bananas already.
Scripture to Back Me Up: Hebrews 12:5-13, Proverbs 3:12, Ephesians 4:18-24