Once upon a time a little girl turned 1 and her parents had new insurance and it was time to take her to her new doctor for an appointment. Her mom didn’t know where the new doctor’s office was, so she mapped it on her phone and followed the directions. As the little girl and her mom exited the highway, her mom heard a strange sound under the car, as if she had run their little red vehicle over something in the road. Unsure of what it may have been, the little girl’s mom slowed way down for just a few seconds to make sure everything was fine. It was, and soon the little girl and her mom were back up to speed.
The little girl and her mom in their little red car had made all the green lights and the next intersection showed two more green arrows beckoning them on. It was a large intersection, a lot of people going on the arrows. Suddenly, CRASH!! Not the little girl and her mom, but the car in front of them. Someone without a green arrow, barreling through the large intersection. The blue car crushed the white car only feet in front of them, right before their eyes. Pieces of both cars flew everywhere. It was a horrible accident, like one of those commercials.
The little girl of course saw nothing. She was safe and sound in the back seat of her little red car as her mom stopped hard and steered around the wreck. Her little red car that would have been going through that same intersection just a few seconds sooner if some strange noise hadn’t slowed them down for just a moment, just a moment ago. Instead it was the white car that got smashed, the whole driver’s side crushed right where a mom and her little girl’s car seat would be if they were in the white car and not the little red car.
Her mom didn’t call 911. She wouldn’t have known where to tell responders to go and whispering “Oh shit, oh shit” to a 911 dispatcher isn’t much help. The little girl and her mom drove on to their appointment. The little girl was singing a song to her sock.
Traditional wisdom holds that parents get the kinds of kids who can push all their buttons, that you will get the kids who will teach you the lessons you most need to learn, who will challenge your most deeply held beliefs, assumptions, and sanity.
The little oyster is an easy baby and always has been. Parents who are raising “difficult” children have said to us with a scoff, “Oh, just wait for the next one.” And to them I say, with all due respect:
God doesn’t only teach us things through “difficult” kids or with difficult circumstances. But I have wondered, as other parents lament certain struggles or difficulties that I haven’t experienced, am I missing out on the meat of parenting? Is an easy baby costing me my street cred with other parents? Why did God give us an easy child?
The little girl and her mom are leaving the doctor’s office. She had shots but now she is happy and chatting again. She’s buttoned into her new fall jacket, the one with polka dots, waving at other patients, laughing when she hears her own voice echo through the atrium. The nurse and the doctor both pronounced the little girl “perfect” during her check up.
As they leave they run into friends who are back at the doctor for the third time this week, their baby out of sorts, her fever up and down for days. Today their little girl will have more tests. The friends are tired and burdened and sad. The little girl’s mom wants to encourage them so she tells them they are doing a great job. They go to their appointment. For the second time in an hour the little girl’s mom wonders, Why isn’t that us?
And then I know for sure what I have suspected for a while. It hits me like the blue car didn’t. It’s what I need to ingest each day, a comfort as much as it is a command: Be still and know that I am God.
I may never know fully why he gave us our daughter but when I look at her I do understand God a little better–not because she’s perfect, but because he is. That is what I understand better.
We weren’t given the child we were given to compare battle scars with other parents. We were given the child we were given because this is how God planned it and I am no more to credit for an easy baby than another parent is to blame for a difficult one. God has given us whom he has given us for his own glory, not for mine. This is not a reflection of us or of her but a reflection of him. There is nothing I can do to make it more so and nothing I can do to make it less so.
And he makes it abundantly clear, when we slow down to listen for a noise in our car and miss a horrible traffic accident by less than two seconds, that he is God. And he makes it clear that if we were a few seconds ahead and that had been our little red car in the intersection, that he would still be God. My responsibility is not to run through the what ifs and the almosts. My responsibility is, in good times and bad, with easy babies and with any others that come, to be still and know that I am God. With an easy baby, I am without excuse to be still. With a faithful God, I am without excuse to know he is in this and in all things.