Turns out my rambunctious toddler’s relationship with me is a lot like my relationship with God…
I tried so hard to prepare Nora for a night at church. For a week I told her about it saying how excited I was that she would be coming with me. Her response was “I may be tired and sleep.” I’m not sure how you can predict that on Tuesday evening you would be too tired, but she argued that she would be. But the night of she came with me and was a very good helper – helping me set up, picking out a spot for us to sit in, putting down only 1 of the 20 kneelers near her, asking why I said no to her running on the altar, and then by the time the AWAKEN event started she knew that she owned the place and no longer needed to follow any rules or requests. Because once she is comfortable with her surroundings Nora does what Nora wants to do.
My parents, Ryan, and a few friends joined us. Nora actually stayed in the pew for a few minutes. But not long into the evening she wanted to get up and run around. She ran me ragged! I tried to keep her entertained and helpful – she helped me take pictures of the event. But then she just wanted to run around and check things out. Back and forth we went from our “close to the front” seat all the way to the back. I took a turn. Ryan took a turn. My dad took a turn.
I hoped it wasn’t too distracting for everyone else. I tried to limit how distracting it was for me because I really wanted to hear Fr. Dave Pivonka’s message. But what I got were snippets in between my turns of running and chasing.
Nora went off with Ryan for a handful of minutes. I relaxed. And then Nora returned – wishing to be cuddled, telling me “I missed you.”, then quickly recovering from missing me and running off again.
She grew tired and even more unruly and Ryan thankfully took her home.
But I thought about it – How Nora running around and coming back then running off again to do her own thing is the perfect example of how my relationship with God can be.
When I want to run around and do my own thing God chases me – trying to keep me close even though I do my best to not pay attention to His desire to get me to just sit with Him. And when I come back to Him he is there patiently waiting in the pew, ready for my return.
I remember to sit and be with Him for a little. But then, in time, I run off again — distracted to something that lies outside of the pew that draws me away — whether it is just the desire to run around for no real reason or for an actual reason. But then, in time, whatever draws me away stops pulling me and I am drawn back; back to my center, back to the pew to sit with and before God.
I return saying “I missed you.” I remember how it feels to just be in His presence. I relax. I feel centered. I am content.
But then, in time, the cycle starts again.
God understands that is just how I am. God still loves me even though I may forget to stay centered and focused. God patiently waits for me – He saves me a seat beside Him and welcomes me back when I return.
In my best moments I stay and sit. If I were perfect I would sit and stay and never run off again. But as it is I am just like Nora – running back and forth and focusing then losing sight. Maybe each time I stray a few less pews away – but until I can let go of that desire to do my own thing and just do what God wants me to do I know this running around and chasing will continue. But I hope that, in time, I don’t have to come to God and tell Him “I missed you.” because I’ll just stay cuddled in His loving embrace that comforts me, welcomes me, and loves me as I am.