Standing in the kitchen, I open up our pantry door to find both the trash can and the recycle bin overflowing with garbage, empty bottles and broken down boxes. The excess of junk reminds me that today is trash day and I have to get everything out to the curb before I leave for work. I close the door and comment to my wife that I’m gonna take the trash and recycling out before I leave.
Kate, our two year, over hears this brief conversation while playing with her toys in the living room. Before I can even finish the sentence to my wife, her little bobbly blonde head comes running into the kitchen and she enthusiastically ask, “Can I come wif you?”
I initially tell her no. “Daddy’s not going far. It’s not that exciting of a thing” I say to her. “It will only take a minute.” She retorts back with a desperate and whinny, “Pleeeaassee. I wanna go wif you.”
Lately this has been her most common phrase. Whether it’s taking the trash to the curb, the dog for a walk, getting the laundry out from the basement, making pancakes on Saturday morning. No matter what menial task I am doing, she always wants to be by my side doing it “wif” me.
I look down at her and with her shoulders slouched and her head cocked back. She says it again, “Pleeeaassee, I just wanna go wif you.” I reluctantly say, “Ok… you can come.” How can I say no. Her excitement is overwhelming. By her reaction, you would think it’s Christmas morning. “Yeeaaahh!” she squeals as she runs down the hall to get her shoes from her room. As I watch her blonde head run away I think to myself, “If only she would be this excited to take out the trash 10 years from now.”
The process of getting on her shoes and pants just to walk outside, is more complicated than the task itself. And of course, she wants to help with everything. She tries to get her tiny little hands in every aspect of this simple chore. Pulling out the trash bag, tying it off, carrying the recycle bin with me. And then, some how along the way, she becomes in charge. She starts to bark orders at me as thought this is the first time I’ve ever done this and she’s done it a million times before, “No, no, no.” she says, “Do it like this daddy. Here, let me show you.” Of course I play along. I submit myself to her every command allowing her to lead the way.
By myself I could have done it all in a matter of three minutes tops, with her by my side it takes about 10. We get back in the house and she is beaming. I tell her good job and give her a high-five. Her satisfaction and sense of accomplishment is palpable but fleeting. Within a matter of seconds after the front door closes behind us, she kicks off her shoes and goes right back to playing with her toys.
Later that evening, as I laid in bed I read these words from Dallas Willard’s book Hearing God,
When we love someone, of course, we want to please them. We don’t want this only in order to avoid trouble or gain favor; it is our way of being with them, of sharing their life and their person. The gushing pleasure of a small child who is helping her or his parent comes from the expansion of the child’s little self through immersion in the life of a larger self to which the child is lovingly abandoned. With its parent the child does big things that he or she could not undertake alone. But the child would not even be interested in doing these things apart from the parent’s interest, attention and affection.
That night, this paragraph struck a chord with me. It reminded me that Kate’s enthusiasm to be with her father, is the same enthusiasm I should have in being with my Heavenly Father. For Kate, it’s not about the task, it’s not about being efficient, it’s not about accomplishment, it’s about being and sharing in the moment together. She wants to go “wif” me simply because she loves me and because I love her. It’s that simple. With this new insight, I’ll welcome her help anytime. I’m beginning to see that these inefficient moments are gifts. They are little reminders to me about what it means to have a child-like posture before the Lord. And the most beautiful thing about it all, is how the Lord receives us. He is just as enthusiastic to have us join him in his duties as Kate was to join me in mine. We are his delight and joy. He always welcomes us by simply saying, “Come. Come be with me. Let’s go together.”
May you walk closely with the Lord today as child walks with their parent.
May your desire to be with Him be rooted in His love for you.
May you find satisfaction and joy from simply being together.