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A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

Hard Morning

July 25th, 2008

It was a hard morning for Emma.

Purposely provoking her sister Annie to frustration. Lots of button pushing in her communication with me. A good measure of “I hear what Daddy is saying but I’ll do it when I feel like it.” Then, when called to accountability, blaming her sister or feigning poor hearing as excuses for her actions or lack thereof.

She knew better, but on this morning she was determined to live on the edge. 

As a farm kid, I remember seeing cattle in a great big lot with room to roam, yet insisting to stand right by the electric fence. Then having the nerve to look surprised when they got shocked.

On this morning, Emma seems bent on getting a close look at the fence.

After reprimanding her for poking her sister while they watched Scooby Doo, Emma stood up and looked at me. Determined to make this my fault and not hers, in a full lung bluster of self-righteous indignation she blurted, “I never want you to talk to me again!” With high drama she made her exit, stage left.

As a parent there are things we do to show our children we mean business. Yet if truth be told, we’re just freezing them mid-step or mid-stomp, hoping to buy time till we think of something to say.

“Emma Elizabeth! You get back here right now! One, two…”

What the heck? How should I address this? Think….think….

Emma came back around the corner. Jaw clenched, eyes narrowed, shoulders squared. She was ready for a showdown.

Then I looked in her brown eyes.

Anger, yes. But fear, too. A dash of confusion. And playing peek-a-boo behind it all, a soon to be 8-year old saying, “Daddy, I’m in over my head and I don’t know what to do.”

“Come here, Emma.” When we’re mad and deep down know we’re wrong, we don’t like walking toward accountability. Her steps were grudging.

“Emma, you said you never want me to talk to you again. That hurts my feelings.” Her eyes lowered. I had begun the familiar “you shouldn’t talk that way to me because it hurts my feelings” argument. The one that attempts to modify the offending party’s behavior by making them stare at the verbal martyr statue of ourselves that we sculpt right in front of their eyes. But somehow it just doesn’t feel right.

Is this about my feelings? Or about our relationship?

“Emma, if I could never talk to you again that would make me so sad. If I couldn’t talk to you again then I’d never get to say, “Emma, can I get you some ice cream?” or “Emma, do you wanna play the Wii with me?” or “Emma, I have a surprise for you!”

Speaking of surprises, I was surprised at what was coming out of my mouth. If this teachable moment is for Emma, why do I feel like the one learning?

“And I could never say, “Emma, wanna go to Krispy Kreme and get some donuts?” That would be so sad.”

Maybe God wanted me to give enough examples to get Emma’s attention. Then again, maybe He wanted to get mine. See, I’ve been a Christian for 40 years. I know God loves me. He has to love me. It’s in His job description. Yet my heart has always struggled with wondering.

I know God loves me…but does He like me?

Too often I’ve thought about my relationship with God from the bottom up. How it looks to me. Rarely have I looked at God’s relationship to me from the top down. How it looks to Him. Sitting on the edge of the bed, telling my daughter all the things I’d miss saying to her if I could never talk to her again gives me pause to think, that just maybe, God would miss not communicating with me. It’s a thought I want to hold, but am not sure how. So I just say the next thing that comes to mind.

“And Emma, I’d never ever get to say, “Come here so I can hug you…”

At the sound of those words Emma’s defiance melted. She threw herself into my arms, sobbing and bear hugging my neck.

In the middle of our anger and our frustration, even in the middle of our sin, we crave relationship. God’s response to our clenched jaws and squared shoulders is not to say how much our defiance hurts His feelings. His response is to open His arms and say, “Come here so I can hug you.” God does not force our obedience. He loves us into submission.

Walking through Wal-Mart later that day, Emma had to be corrected a couple times. Except this time after the teachable moment, she grabbed me and said, “Hold my hand, Daddy. Wrap your fingers around really tight, ok?”

And that’s how we walked. Her ornery streak still intact, but with a grip on her Daddy’s hand.

“Do you not know that it is God’s kindness that leads you to repentance?” – Romans 2:4

Todd A. Thompson – www.ASliceOfLifeToGo.com