Waiting for a friend, I watched a rambunctious little girl at the mall, obviously in the throes of stubborn independence. Everything was “no” this and “no” that. Then suddenly, she took advantage of her mom’s focus at a kiosk to reach up, grab the handlebar of the baby stroller and take off running.
“I do it! I do it,” she yelled with glee.
The mom, clearly upset, chased her daughter as the little rebel barely missed hitting a couple. The baby in the stroller woke up and started crying.
“No, Emi. Stop,” the mom yelled.
It’s amazing how a little one can run. The mom caught up with her daughter, swept her off her feet and plopped her down on a mall bench. I watched as she emphatically explained to little Emi why running off with the stroller was wrong and even dangerous. Emi wasn’t ready to listen.
“Look at me,” the mom said.
The little girl never actually looked her mom squarely in the eyes. She sort of glanced sideways at her. And I thought I saw an impish smile … a plan hatching.
Believing she had won, her mom turned back to shopping.
“I do it. I do it!” The little rebel was off and running as the baby in the stroller wailed in protest.
Poor mom. It was going to be a long day.
Aside from my own thoughts about parenting that day—how I might have handled the situation and stubborn child differently—my mind drifted back to my own childhood.
That phrase “I do it” reminded me of an attitude-altering story.
I won a sewing contest in grade school. The Sears store near our home in Chicago sponsored the contest, and winners in different categories also had to model their creations in a store fashion show. My peach-colored dress and short cape, all edged in peach and turquoise floral trim, was cheerful and elegant (lovely for Easter).
I won … But I wasn’t happy at all.
You see, while I was sewing the garment, my mom repeatedly took the material out of my hands. “Here, let me do it,” she’d say. I stood by her at the machine with a frustrated frown.
When the outfit was completed, I figured Mom had sewn most of it. She deserved the prize, not me.
[I wonder how many children feel the same way when moms or dads take school projects out of their hands. And yes, I was guilty of that ... surprising, considering my own story.]
After the fashion show, I was determined not to let ANYONE take things out of my hands. My “I do it” spirit was alive and thriving. I just didn’t make a big deal out of it. When people offered to help, I responded with an simple, “No, thanks.” It wasn’t that I thought I could do better; I just wanted control.
Even if I failed, I wanted to be in charge.
Although I had prayed for wisdom as a young girl, I wasn’t willing to listen to anyone’s advice. I didn’t have a teachable spirit. I was proud and stubborn.
Outwardly I cooperated. Inwardly, not so much. It was like the little boy who, told to sit down, obeyed. But he told his mama, “I’m standing up on the inside!”
I was acting like the Israelites in the Old Testament. They proved over and over again the foolishness of their obstinance and disobedience; and under the law, this stubbornness was a serious matter (Deuteronomy 17:12; Zechariah 7:11-12).
It’s still a serious matter; but I am so thankful for the grace of God. I’m glad for the covering of Jesus for my sins—including stubbornness.
For so long, God wanted full control of my life, and I resisted Him. It was like I wanted salvation; I even said, “Jesus is Lord.” But the truth was, I thought I could run my own life.
I’m glad God showed me my heart after I joined a revival team in my early 20’s. One day, listening to a revival message on stubbornness, I was deeply convicted of my secret rebellious attitude (1 Samuel 15:23a). (Yes, even a “good girl” can be stubborn and rebellious in her heart.) And I discovered stubbornness is linked to a “stiff-necked” lack of belief (2 Kings 17:14).
How? When we are stubborn against our Father’s will for us, we don’t believe He knows best.
That day, it was as if the Lord was saying to me: “Here, my child … let Me do it. Let me have control. Let Me change your life. Let me live out My life in and through you.”
My heart broke and I stopped resisting.
The years of “Leave me alone; I can do it” arrogance melted away in sweet surrender to the Sovereign Lord.
I determined to follow Christ (Matthew 16:24-27) with a teachable spirit (Psalm 25:5; 86:11). And I discovered a powerful truth: when we surrender everything to Him (our plans, dreams, strengths, weaknesses, frustrations, habits—everything), He can run our lives infinitely better than we can.
How foolish to resist His loving guidance and help.
There may be an area of your life where the Lord is whispering, “I care and I want to help you. Will you let Me do it? Will you trust me with your heart?”
How will you respond?
Photo adapted, Image courtesy of arztsamui / FreeDigitalPhotos.net