Posts tagged Lessons from Lucy
When it comes to kids, there are certain constants – dirty diapers, middle of the night feedings, etc. One of those constants, doctor visits, struck us on Friday and taught me another lesson:
SOMETIMES, YOU’VE GOTTA TRUST YOUR GUT
You see, Lucy hadn’t been feeling well for a couple of weeks. Maybe it was allergies or a cold, but whatever the reason, she was congested, sneezing, coughing, and generally not feeling well. We discussed it with the doctor a couple of weeks ago and he told us to spray saline into her nose and to use what I affectionately call “The Sucker” to suck out all the juicy stuff, which we did. But something told us that there was more than just some nasal congestion.
As Lucy’s cough got worse, we became more and more convinced that there was something more than just a cold. When she began sleeping less and eating less, we decided to take her back to the doctor. So, on Friday, Melody took her in and guess what? Double ear infections!
Now, a few days and several doses of Amoxicillin later, Lucy is almost completely back to her old self. At the same time, Melody and I are emboldened as parents. We know our little girl and we know when there’s something wrong with her.
As I consider this fact, the pastor in me wants to say “And God knows us, even better than we know ourselves”. That’s true, but I think there’s another lesson here. It is this: For people who are actually following Jesus – people who are devoted to a relationship with God – it’s OK to just trust your gut sometimes. In other words, if you know God, stop waiting around for him to tell you what to do and, instead, follow your gut (heart, spirit, or whatever you choose to call it) and do the thing you know you should do.
Fear of the unknown can be paralyzing, especially when it comes to God. For people who view God as a stern disciplinarian, not knowing exactly what he wants you do to can freeze you in your tracks. Even people who know God as one full of grace and mercy can become like statues when faced with a decision. But the bottom line is that if we are in a relationship with him, then we already know a lot about him and about the kinds of decisions he would make.
Sometimes, we just have to trust our gut and move forward. If he wants us to do something else, he’ll certainly let us know.
Have you ever stared at a blank wall for what seems like forever, engulfed at its incredible complexity and beauty? Yeah, me either. My little girl, however, does it all the time. Evidently, there’s something I need to learn from Lucy about…
THE WONDER IN THE WORLD
Tiny fingers gripping and releasing a pink blanket. The single thread running through the ribbon that attaches her pacifier to her shirt. And yes, a solid orange wall in her nursery. For Lucy, all of these things represent a world of wonder and amazement. In her 4 month old mind, everything is new, fresh and exciting. Even the most mundane things, like a light bulb or a couple of toes, provide endless entertainment and fascination for this little one. Every reflection, movement or noise is a new amusement and every object a new world to explore.
For me, these are the things I walk past every day – the things I kick aside on my way to more important things. These are the things I take for granted. And while it may not be a big deal if I walk past a wooden block without a notice, I suspect that there is an endless list of things I should notice and that I should be in wonder of, but that I’m too busy to pay attention to.
On that list is a conversation with someone who is giving me every indication that they are hurting, but I am looking past them and just waiting for the conversation to come to an end. On that list are the countless numbers of ways God has blessed my life (I tend to ignore the ones that don’t involve money). On that list is the incredible complexity and beauty of nature – something I have long failed to spend enough time admiring. In short, that list is long.
But Lucy has taught me something about the mundane. She has taught me that we can find beauty, amusement, information and wonder in those things that we typically walk past or gloss over. She has taught me that I need to slow down, examine things and appreciate their intricacies. I need to stare at things on occasion. I need to question, to gaze and to be amazed. Thanks for the lesson, Lucy!
Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.
As I continue to learn from my baby girl, I continue to learn about God and about myself. Today…
I’VE GOT THE GOODS TO MAKE PAPA SMILE
I often wonder if God is pleased with me. Honestly, it doesn’t have nearly as much to do with God as it does with me. I am not very pleased with myself. Like a lot of folks my age (and older) I thought I would have accomplished more by now. I thought I would have made more of a difference in the world. I was sure that I would be a better student of the bible, a better follower of Jesus and a better leader. I know there is so much that I could have or should have done and that I’ve missed so many opportunities along the way. I am disappointed in myself and so I wonder if God is just as disappointed in me.
But then I look at Lucy. As I mentioned in a previous post, Lucy is pretty helpless. There isn’t a lot she can do for me. If I fall down, she can’t pick me up or even call 911. If I need to move the sofa, she won’t be there to lift the other end. If I need advice on a project for work, she won’t be any help. But even in her state of helplessness, I’m not disappointed in Lucy.
As a matter of fact, I am more proud of her than I have ever been in my life. Every little thing that she does fascinates me. I can stare at her for hours, watching her every move. And when she smiles? Oh man…when she smiles, I am undone. When she smiles, the world around me fades into the background and it’s just her and me – my baby girl smiling at her Papa and me smiling like a fool back at her. When she smiles, my stress, anxiety and fear melts, my racing mind stops racing and my busy life is put on hold. And when I smile back at her, it brings her the utmost joy.
And so I wonder, does our Father, the one who loves us more than we can ever fathom, look at us in the same way? Does he watch us intently, fixated on our every move? Does he study us, not waiting for us to fail so he can put a “naughty” mark in his big Santa Clausian book, but eagerly noticing every success. As the perfect Father, I am almost sure that he does.
When we motion toward him in worship, he smiles. When we take those first few steps to get closer to him, he smiles. When we recognize his voice, readily obey his commands and eagerly walk with him wherever he leads, I believe he smiles at us like I smile at little Lucy. And so, even in my brokenness and need, even with all my failure and with every opportunity I’ve missed, I still possess the thing that my Father is looking for. I’ve got the goods to make Papa smile.
The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.”
In this installment of Lessons from Lucy, we’ll be focusing on a simple reminder that we aren’t nearly as independent as we think we are.
I AM A VIRTUALLY HELPLESS INDIVIDUAL
Like most of you, I was raised with an appreciation for – and strong drive toward – independence. Any number of mental pictures pop into my head when I think about the virtue of self-sufficiency and strength. My mom can tell stories for days about my independent nature as a child. And I’m sure my lovely wife could tell a few about the adult version of that I-can-do-it-myself streak. But when it comes right down to it, I’ve realized that not only am I not very independent, I’m actually incredibly dependent.
Having an almost-four-month-old has given me insight into my own helplessness in a way that I have never before experienced. You see, Lucy is pretty helpless. Even approaching the four month mark with all of the milestones that she has passed, there still isn’t a whole lot she can do for herself. Sure, she can handle the basics like breathing and swallowing – things essential for survival. But I imagine what would happen if I or someone else wasn’t around to take care of her. She can’t even hold her own bottle for any period of time, let alone prepare the bottle with the appropriate ratio of formula powder and water. She can’t change her own diaper or put on new clothes. She can’t get herself out of bed, can’t move more than a few inches and can’t even grab her pacifier and put it back in her mouth.
For an older baby, these would be seen as developmental issues. For a 2 year old, they would signify severe mental disability. But for Lucy, her lack of ability – her helplessness – is normal. It would be strange if my little 21 inch munchkin could climb out of her crib, change her diaper and go make herself a bottle. No one expects that of her. And yet, we have those kinds of expectations about ourselves.
You see, we’re all just as helpless as little Lucy. Sure, we can do basic things essential for our survival. We can feed ourselves, work to earn a living and communicate our needs to other people. But when faced with more advanced tasks, we find our infantile minds and souls are wholly inadequate to process the more complex issues of life. When tragic things happen, when we’re over-worked or over-stressed – when life throws more at us than we can handle – we need something or someone else. Even times of joy can sometimes be overwhelming to the point that we are frozen in that moment. We find ourselves, then, confronted with the fact that for all our grand illusions of self-sufficiency and independence, we need. We need deeply.
Now, that may be a hard pill to swallow at times. I know it is for me. I don’t want to need. I don’t want to have to rely on anyone else to take care of me. And yet, we can take comfort in knowing that, just like my little baby girl, my neediness is normal. I am not expected to know or understand the answers to the complex questions in life. It would be strange if I could brush off the pain and anguish of a tragic loss. I would be considered less than (not more than) human if I remained stoic in the face of extreme hardship or extreme joy.
I think Jesus makes an incredible statement about the normalcy of our dependence in John 15:5:
5“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
A branch is useless without the vine and no one expects it to bear any fruit. Likewise, we are entirely useless, entirely helpless and entirely unable to process life on our own. We are more dependent and helpless than we will ever fully realize. But the thing is…that’s just how it’s supposed to be.
This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time. As a matter of fact, I could probably write “Lessons from Lucy” Episodes 1-30 by now. Over the past 3 months, I’ve learned so much from my baby girl and I know I will continue to learn from her for the rest of my life.
You see, in so many ways, she’s so much closer to what we are created to be than I have been in a very long time. At the same time, so many of her actions remind me of the things that seem to be hard-wired into us that simply defy logic. Today’s lesson:
I OFTEN FAIL TO IDENTIFY MY ENEMY
It seems silly to think that an infant would have any enemies. After all, the only people that Lucy has extended contact with are her mom and me. And yet, Lucy does have an enemy. This enemy picks on her, scratches her face, steals her pacifier and blocks her bottle from getting to her mouth. This enemy pulls the blanket off of her and removes her socks so she gets cold. This enemy even goes so far as to poke her in the eye from time to time.
The enemy, of course, is a baby named Lucy. She is her own worst enemy. Over the past three months, Lucy and I have had a running conversation about this issue. “Lucy,” I tell her, “if you wouldn’t pull that pacifier out of your mouth, then you wouldn’t get upset.” (I don’t think she’s listening.) “Baby,” I say, “if you didn’t kick your socks off, your feet wouldn’t get cold.” (She does it anyway.) “Sweet girl,” I beg, “please get your hands out of your face so papa can get the bottle into your mouth.” (This one makes her really mad!) No matter how many times we have the conversation, she just doesn’t seem to get it. Now you may say, “Adam, she’s only three months old. She doesn’t know any better and she certainly doesn’t have the ability to understand what you’re telling her.” Hogwash! My baby is brilliant! Haha.
Seriously though, Lucy doesn’t have the ability to understand my very logical explanations of her self-torment. However, I should be able to understand the concept, right? At 32 years old, surely I could recognize if I exhibited similar behavior. But, alas, that is not the case. I (like so many of you) have spent my entire life being my own worst enemy.
When you’re 3 months old, it means you pull your pacifier out of your mouth. When your 20 or 30 or 50, it means you pull away from friends when you are hurting and need them the most. When you’re a baby, your hunger for that bottle causes you to put your hands in your mouth (blocking the bottle in the process). When you’re an adult, your hunger for “the good life” and for stuff causes you to get yourself in over your head financially, which ultimately makes you a slave to debt and drags down your quality of life.
The apostle Paul put it so succinctly in Romans 7:15
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
Yeah, Paul, me too, buddy. Me, too.