Happy in making God happy.

September 8, 2007

Two of my cousins, sisters, come over every Saturday; one is 12, the other is 6. It’s always an adventure of some sort: rollerblading, swimming, wave boarding, running with the dogs, endless story-telling, taking out my dresses for them to try on, you name it.

They’re so different. One conceals the things of her heart more, the other wears her heart on her forehead (everything from within is so apparent: her thoughts, her feelings, etc.). Hanging out with them always gives me so much to mull over. Today was no different.

Today, the youngest one was grumbling & complaining because her mom wouldn’t get her the princess costume she wanted for Halloween. She tried crying, whining, pulling . . . but all in vain. & that made her even more miserable.

I put her into the most froufrou-like dress I could find in my closet & read her a devotional story called “Why We Can Always Be Happy” from Little Visits with God that spoke about God’s forgiveness for our sins. She half-listened in. She liked the froufrou, but she was still miserable. Alas.

When we went to the restaurant later, she was even more sullen. There was nothing anyone could do to cheer her up or distract her. Her mind was still fixed on somehow getting that princess dress (did I mention she had 5 other costumes at home that she could choose from?).

Finally, she needed to go to the restroom. When we got in there, she immediately said, “I feel sad.”

“Why?” I asked. By this time, I was inwardly battling impatience; I’d heard this statement about 15 times in the past 2 hours. Lord, help.

“You know why . . .”

“Alisa, you need to be cheerful even if you don’t get what you want. A dress shouldn’t be the thing that makes you either happy or unhappy.”

“But I still want it . . . & I’m sad . . .”

“You can’t always have what you want. Right now, you’re making everyone else miserable just because you feel miserable. You’re only thinking about yourself. You only care about you, & you don’t care about anyone else right now.”

“What is ‘care’?” (She knew what it meant, but she wanted another explanation.)

“‘Care’ is like loving. You only love yourself right now. You aren’t loving other people, because you’re only thinking about what you want. You’re being selfish.”

“So, it’s all my fault?” (Her voice became a little more shrill, & the tears were welling up again.)

“Pretty much . . .” For a split second, I wondered how I should respond. Do I tell her nothing is her fault just so she won’t cry, or do I tell her the truth? ‘Pretty much’ is what came out. “But you can change that. You have a choice. You can either not be selfish, be cheerful, & make God happy . . . or you can keep wanting things your own way & choose to be miserable. You decide.”

I have to decide?”

I held up my hands for her. Wagging my left hand, “Either you can keep doing wrong,” & next, wagging my right hand, “Or you can do what’s right & do what makes God happy. You choose.”

She looked from one hand to the other for a while, & then her eyes brightened a little. She announced with a big smile, “I want to be cheerful & make God happy.” & then came the inevitable, “But where is God? I can’t see Him or touch Him!”

After some more inside-my-head God, help prayers & a brief explanation, I began to wonder if someone was waiting outside to use the restroom, so we went back outside. When we went back to our table, she hugged her mom & apologized, saying, “Mom, I’ll be cheerful even if I don’t get the dress.”

She bounced back into her seat next to me & said, “I’m so happy now! It’s like magic!”

“Making God happy, by loving & obeying Him, should always be what makes us happy.”

“Yea, I was being selfish. But what if I choose to be cheerful, but my heart is still sad or mad?”

“Then pray to God & ask Him to help you.”

Later, she asked for some meat, but there was none of the specific variety she wanted. She started to get grumpy again, but she stopped abruptly & said to herself, “Wait, don’t be grumpy.” Then she looked upward & said to herself, as if for God to hear her, too, & be pleased, “Be cheerful.”

& she was.

*

Elisabeth Prentiss wrote, in Stepping Heavenward, something about instilling in children the desire to please God from a young age. This is what I tried to instill in Alisa, if you’re wondering about the “making God happy” part. But I don’t recommend this narrative as the best approach in dealing with grumpy kids. For advice of that nature, I would be more than glad to recommend you to a number of older, godly women who are wives & mothers . . .

But talking with Alisa reminded me of sins in my own heart & truths in His Word to cling to.

Do I cry over princess dresses? No . . .
Do I grumble, complain, & whimper over other things just as silly & petty? Sadly, yes.

The whole time I was talking to Alisa, I was thinking & praying, “God, I fall so short of being exemplary in my own heart attitude. Help me to be a better example to her. Keep her eyes on You who are perfect . . .”

Let me not forget: joy comes in knowing God, loving Him, & making it my aim to please Him.

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3 Responses to “Happy in making God happy.”

  1. stevenhong Says:

    dude, you should come down and sit in elementary sunday school when I’m teaching and do some more of that “magic”

  2. tia Says:

    haha, “magic” reminds me of what I say to Jinny about her “hocus pocus” prayers that make my heart change ;]

    But, just in case anyone misunderstands the jesting here, we know it’s always/only God, not some magic or hocus pocus . . . :]

  3. jennifer l. Says:

    awwwwwwwwwwwwww
    alisa!!!

    hahahhahahhaa she’s such a little drama queen. ❤


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