Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sunday morning Christopher Robin's class went up front to sing a song for all of us during the church service. They did this once before near Christmas, but when they announced to the class what they were planning, Christopher Robin immediately decided he would not participate. He resists new ideas. I bought him new shoes, and he told me he wouldn't wear them. Three days later my mom asked me how his new shoes fit him, and I told her he hadn't put them on. Later that day he decided he wanted to wear them, and he has loved them ever since. I think something new has to sit for a little while, become familiar first, and then he can accept it. So while the rest of his class of 3-5 year olds filed onto the stage to sing their Christmas song, Christopher Robin sat and watched from the front row. I let him. I was a little worried we were setting a life-long pattern by allowing him to refuse to cooperate. I understood the feeling of not wanting to be in the spotlight, but I had visions of a strange, stubborn 10 year old boy who had never been willing to set his foot on the stage or participate in anything that had to do with public performance. My biggest worry was that my response, just accepting without argument that he didn't want to do it and not forcing him or trying to persuade him otherwise, would contribute to a life of refusing to stretch himself or emerge from his cocoon of comfort. My Hero assured me just letting him be was the right thing, and my mom confirmed it when I brought it up with her, so that's what we did.
A couple of weeks ago, I learned that his class had a new song they would be singing in church, and Christopher Robin's teacher told me he had been eagerly participating during practice. I got my hopes up that he would make it onto the stage this time (though My Hero warned me not to), and I refrained from mentioning it to Christopher Robin at all, for fear of jeopardizing the possibility by making him think about it.
Sunday morning during their pre-service practice, Christopher Robin was first in line leading the way onto the stage, and during the actual performance it was the same. He walked confidently across the stage and positioned himself in front of one of the microphones. As they were singing, he leaned down to sing right into the microphone, and his soft little voice melted me into a puddle. I was laughing the whole time, because I was so thrilled, and the kids were so funny, all of them with their different quirky behaviors on stage, and a couple of times Christopher Robin with his big round eyes looked right at me sitting in the front row laughing, and just stared at me as if he was trying to figure out what I was laughing at. I had to force myself to stop and smile encouragingly at him, because I didn't want him to think I was laughing at him.
What a kid. I guess sitting and watching his class do it once turned a new idea into an old, comfortable one, and he was willing to participate the next time. He's leery of new ideas because he doesn't know what will happen and he may not like it. But I still can't believe the difference between the last experience and this one.

I've been thinking about the euphoria I felt as a mom seeing my little boy up front singing for the first time, and it made me think about God, as my Father...what makes Him feel that way about me? Some days, often on Sundays in church, when we're all singing His praises together and my mind is full of all He's done, I'm bursting with happiness and everything has a rosy hue. Later, when life looks more gloomy, and I've let selfishness ruin my day, I'll look back on that and think how God must despise my earlier happiness. As if I deserve it. Sometimes I think even in the midst of the euphoria that I'm not worthy to feel that happy. So I thought of how I feel about Christopher Robin. Yes, he has a lot of bad moments, and he lets me down over and over, but I still really love his happy times, and nothing thrills me more than when he spontaneously tells me he loves me and wraps his skinny arms around my neck and presses close for a hug with an endearing look in his eyes. I think that's the kind of thing God is looking for, too. I keep telling myself if I could behave in life the way I would like to see Christopher Robin behave, I have a good chance of making God feel pleased. I'm most pleased and proud of Christopher Robin when he acts with kindness, helps his little brother, makes his baby sister smile, helps me with my tasks, learns something new, does something well, has a humble attitude with the desire to please. "God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble." I Peter 5:5 Those are the kinds of things God is looking for, especially the humble part, the absense of cocky self-assurance pursuing my own whims, but the happy humility to keep coming back to Him to find out what I could do for Him next, working alongside Him in his projects, willing to learn His way of doing things, treating His other children with kindness.
I don't dwell on Christopher Robin's bad moments or his mistakes. I move on and try to teach him better. I have a constant hope and vision of the man he could become, and its his successes that really stick with me, the good things he proves he can do, the times his quick learning surprises me and his helpfulness truly helps me. It encourages me to think God my Father looks at me that way, too. Yes, He's always willing me to do better, but He's not constantly disappointed that I haven't arrived. My failures don't make Him begrudge me happiness, and even though I'm not perfect, he still drinks in my humble praises like a daddy wraps his arms around a child.

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