I have temper tantrums. They don’t look like the ones my young children have, but they are most certainly temper tantrums. I realized this about myself just this week while shopping with my boys.
I took my 5 and 8 year old sons shopping for new shoes for school. They were very excited to pick out the shoes they believed made them run the fastest and jump the highest. After they were satisfied with their selection, we headed to the checkout desk.
The wait was almost 10 minutes as our cashier worked through pricing problems and gift cards that didn’t process correctly for the customers in front of us in line. After several minutes, my boys started checking out the candy bars. I couldn’t blame them; I had been looking at them, too.
“Not today, boys.” I said. They ignored me and continued searching for their favorite treats. Once they found them, the begging began.
“No. I don’t have money for those today,” I said. It didn’t take long before one boy was in tears and the other was angrily stomping and shouting, “I want candy!” I focused on remaining calm while sticking to my decision.
After I paid, the boys stomped off after me, heads hanging as I carried the two bags of their once-loved-but-now-forgotten new shoes. They picked up the resistance on the way to the parking lot, straggling behind, giving me the evil eye. Finally, I put the bags down and did that thing mothers sometimes do in desperate moments: I pointed my finger sternly at the ground in front of me and yelled, “Get over here. Now.”
When they were standing in front of me, I said, “I bought you new shoes, shoes that you picked out and loved just five minutes ago. And now you are treating me badly because you want a piece of candy?! Candy which is not even good for you and will be gone in 2 minutes?!” I dropped the two bags of shoes on the ground in front of them and continued on. “Don’t treat me that way. I am your mother. Now pick up your new shoes if you want them. I’m getting in the car.” And I walked off.
I couldn’t resist peeking behind me as I walked to the car, wondering if they would follow. Surprisingly, they did. In fact, once inside the car, they seemed to have forgotten all about the candy and were excited about their shoes again. “Thank you for my new shoes, mommy,” one said.
I couldn’t help thinking about this on the way home. How many times has God given me what I needed only to have me grumble and sulk because I didn’t get the sweet temporary thing I wanted in the moment:
He gave me a tender, affectionate husband who is completely trustworthy, and I want a handyman.
He gave me four children despite my inability to become pregnant, and I want more sleep.
He gave me the opportunity to read His Word and to know Him intimately through the reading of it, and I want a suspense novel.
We crave the sweets that are in front of us every day, tempting us. We recognize that what God gives us is good for us–and we are grateful for the gift in the moment–but it is not long after that we whine for the sweets. What a patient Father we have, who doesn’t point at us and yell, “Get over here. Now.” But still, how much are we missing out on when we take the gifts begrudgingly and straggle behind, grumbling about the piece of candy He didn’t allow?