He stomps his foot and scrunches his brow into a tight crinkle. “I DO IT MYSELF.” I quietly shift my weight down to one knee to get on his level and ask gently, “Can Mama help?” His determination grows fiercer with my question, and he again replies, “NO. I DO IT MYSELF. ME. I DO IT!” His chubby fingers pinch the zipper pull of his Spiderman jacket until his fingernails whiten as he yanks harder and harder to unzip the jacket. It won’t budge. I know that he will eventually need my help, so I stand up, sigh, and wait. I busy myself in the kitchen, silently counting down to the inevitable wail that is sure to come. 3…2…”HELP ME NOW MAMA! IT’S STUCK!” When I get to him I can see beads of sweat have formed on his forehead, outward signs of the effort to outgrow a need for me. It’s hard work being two. I reach for his zipper, and this time he doesn’t pull away. He looks up at me and I can see he feels a mixture of frustration and relief. I free him of his jacket and he thanks me, while toddling off to play.
With my first son, an exchange like this would leave me exasperated- but with the second child comes understanding (and a little exasperation, let’s be honest). I know that the independence my boy is seeking is not only normal, but necessary. He’s learning that he can do some things alone- and for others, he still needs help.
It made me wonder, though, how often do we do this to God? How often do we tell Him NO. I’ll do this myself. ME. I imagine He does the same thing for us that I did with my child- surely He knows the inevitable wail for help is coming, and He patiently waits. He waits for us to try and try- for our hands to grow tired, for the beads of sweat to appear on our brows- He waits until we are ready to admit we can’t do it alone. How long this process takes is really up to us. He’s always ready to help. And even though I know this- really know this- I still find myself forcing a solution to a problem I can’t fix on my own, time after time. Our independence can build an isolation from God that was never meant to exist.
Our need to do it ourselves stems from what? Are we so brazen to demand that we receive credit for a job well done when none of it was ours to begin with? All we have is His. The internal fight for control between us and our Creator will never amount to more than tired arms and defeated surrender. I don’t believe our Father wants us to surrender in frustrated defeat, nor does He take joy in our weakness. Gloating about my ability to remove my little one’s jacket with ease was the last thing on my mind. I was simply glad he was free. Happy to assist him so he could do what he desired. I believe God wants us to surrender in humility, with gratitude that He is able.
So the next time you feel the beads of sweat building and the strain to be independent wearing down your strength- ask Him to help. Our weakness is His strength- and He’s waiting.