Where does a 4 year-old go to get good?
I was watching a young family pass by my counter over the holidays. Christmas was in the air and this Lands-End-sport’n foursome was on their way to find some treasure. The eldest of the two children was a boy around the age of four. At the moment they caught my eye the little boy had his white knuckled fists pushed deep into his pockets as he was throwing back a little attitude to his folks. The zero tolerance came right back at him and he was told that he had better be good or Santa would not be coming to his house this Christmas.
You could see it as much as you could imagine it. Every objection in him stifled. His shoulders locked. His lips pursed. His coal-black curls tightened around the band of his bright red ball cap as he furrowed his brow. Where does a 4 year-old go to get good?
You know the feeling. You’re a little person with wants and thoughts and absolutely no patience whatsoever. It’s Christmas, you are all knotted up on the inside with anxious wishes for your dreams to come true. Doesn’t anyone know how hard it is to wait 25 days? Doesn’t anyone know how hard it’s been to be good for the last 20? With five more days of being good standing between you and the Christmas wish you are dying for, where does a 4 year-old go to get good?
After all, you’ve only been on the planet for the last four years. The first two years you were incapacitated by poor communication skills, the lack of mobility, and uncontrollable bodily fluids. By the third year all of the above is improving and you’ve become quite entertaining. You’ve also discovered that some behaviors lead to smiles and laughter while others lead to frowns and timeouts. By the fourth year the expectations on your growing intelligence become a little more demanding. Your parents seem to think you have a choice; you can be good or you can be bad. Where does a 4 year-old go to get good?
It has become painfully clear in recent months that I am a nub. My Facebook status keeps asking me, “What’s on your mind?” The only reply I can come up with is “I am a nub.” I have been thoroughly and deeply pruned over the last couple of years. I have experienced some brutal losses and most of them undetectable to the human eye. If I were to speak of it in its honesty you may run the risk of losing your religion, so for now I will spare you the intimate details. However, this one thing I can tell you: you can never really know the extent of your dependencies on God until He prunes you into nub. Where does a 40-something go to get good?
Note to self: God rewards our fruitfulness with pruning. It’s only when He fulfills His promise to prune us fruitless can we re-encounter the truth of our own soulish bankruptcies. Apart from Him we can do nothing worth anything, and I mean NOTHING.
On those days I’m miss’n my fruit I’ll wonder in the wilderness of my mind and remember the hunt that little boy was sent on to go find good. I wonder if he found it? I wonder if he found self-determination instead only to discover it doesn’t last very long. I wonder if he found how to work the manipulations of charm to only make himself appear good? Unfortunately the emptiness of that skill won’t be felt for years to come. I wonder if he gave up and resolved to a low self-esteem or worse yet, rebellion? Where does a 4 year-old go to find good?
If and when I ever get the chance to mother another child, to steward the innocence of a young life, I would so cherish those moments when I got to point to good. Only God is good. He stands on the porch of our hearts waiting for our attentions to return Him, declare our bankruptcy, and ask Him to come farther in and be good through us. Such sympathy pressures my heart to wish I had a chance to tuck those precious curls behind that guy’s little ear and whisper, “Baby, go to God. He has all the good you will ever need.”