Next to me stands my assistant, my sous chef if you will. Just having rolled out of bed, still in her pj’s and with her hair sticking out in every which direction, she’s ready to help. It’s Saturday morning, and in our house that means pancakes!
I pull the bag of flour toward us and open it. Before I can reach for the measuring cup, she’s quick to grab it, and with no hesitation thrusts it into the bag. A small explosion of white powder fills the air. Slightly startled… she pauses briefly. Looking up at me to catch my reaction, she sees my smile and gives back a smile of her own. “That’s silly!” she says.
I put my hand into the bag to assist hers, but she brushes it off saying, “No. No. No. I will do it.” I withdraw my hand and she forges ahead with resolve and determination.
Over the last month, our 3-year-old has started to believe she can do just about anything and everything on her own. Whether it’s tying her shoes, putting toothpaste on her toothbrush, brushing her hair, pouring a glass of milk or making pancakes. She’s turned into “little miss independent.”
At first, I thought this new stage was cute. Kate would sit on the floor and wrestle her shoes onto her feet and with each successful attempt she would proudly look at me and say, “Daddy, I am bigger now.” But over time, I’ve come to learn that her new-found independence only results in more battles for control and more messes to clean up.
As she pulls the measuring cup out of the bag, more flour ends up on the counter than in the measuring cup. As she tries to dump what little she has in the measuring cup into the mixing bowl, even less makes it into the bowl.
Thinking she has flawlessly executed the first step in the recipe, she moves on to step two. Eggs.
As I wipe up the excess flour on the counter, out of the corner of my eye I see my little helper pry open the carton of eggs. I quickly realize where this is going and I reach to help. Again, she brushes my hand away saying, “No. No. No. I will do it.”
I say to her, “Let daddy help.” She responds back saying, “But I will do it!” The battle ensues. She wants independence and control. I know she needs help.
As we fight over the eggs, I have a moment of realization. I come to realize that I assert this exact same attitude and posture with God. I have the tendency to think that I too am “getting bigger” and able to do more on my own. And I end up insisting on my own independence from God, saying to Him, “No. No. No. I will do it.”
In these moments, both Kate and I believe, that the assistance from either myself or God, will hinder our joy and decrease the fulfillment of the experience. We are conditioned to believe that the more independent we are, the more human we become. However, the reverse is true. By relinquishing control and embracing dependence, we actually experience life more fully.
When Kate submits to me, and I to God, our joy and fulfillment are increased, not only in the completion of something we couldn’t do on our own, but also in the relationship that develops during the process. Trust is built. Love is expressed. Connection is mutually experienced.
Without help, both Kate and I will end up discouraged and disheartened. We will be left with a mess that is too big for us to clean up. We will quit and walk away.
Deep inside, both of us know that we can’t do it on our own. We know that we need help. And when we give ourselves to a life of submission and dependence, joy and fulfillment await.
After a moment of convincing, Kate let’s me help. She picks out her egg of choice and I position it in her hand. I wrap my hand around hers and we crack the egg together. As she drops the egg into the bowl the look on her face says it all. With amazement in her eyes she looks up at me and says, “We did it!”
Indeed we did.