This beautiful fall season reminded me of a series of devotionals I never finished. I called it Devotions Inspired by a Two-year-old. If you all like it, I’ll share more. The boys in the picture are really mine, and no, it wasn’t staged. Thank you, Daniel Ryan Photography for the photo.
This morning my two-year-old ran alongside the double stroller while my infant slept cocooned in blankets to ward off the fall chill.
The oldest stopped and squealed. He stared down at an ugly brown leaf.
Millions of gorgeous leaves littered the ground, but he fixated on the torn, crackly leaf with a spot of mold growing on it…or maybe that white spot was bird poop.
He bent over to pick it up, but his puffy mittens prevented him from gripping it.
A bright red one touched his foot. I pointed. “Hey, look at that leaf. Isn’t it pretty?”
The tip of his tongue stuck out. He slapped his oversized hands together attempting to clutch the ugly leaf.
A unique three-toned leaf with red, yellow, and orange shifted in the grass a few steps away. “Oh my, look at this.” I picked it up and showed it to him. “It’s gorgeous.”
He ignored me again, focused on what may have been the most hideous leaf I’d ever seen. “I can’t get it,” he cried. Then whined. He grew louder and more frustrated.
His fits were annoying, and I didn’t want to reinforce it. So I ignored him and pushed the stroller toward home. He would follow and soon forget.
A blast of wind lifted my hair and cooled my face. How many times had I whined and cried to God to have something undesirable and insignificant in the whole scheme of things? Yet it always felt extremely important to me at the time. When God did pause and meet me where I was with either a lesson or by giving me my heart’s desire it meant a lot. Maybe teaching my child about our relationship was better than a lesson on not whining.
I stopped and turned back. “Would you like some help?”
He danced in a circle and squealed. “Yes! Yes.”
I picked up the ugly, worthless leaf and handed it to him.
He clapped his mittens together and laughed. Then he dashed toward home in search of his next project.
I didn’t even know where to put the leaf since he never took it.
Grrrr. I pushed the stroller after him. How many times have I wanted something so badly then when I got it didn’t even thank God? Maybe I didn’t even realize he provided it for me. I just moved on to a new obsession, satisfied I’d achieved what I intended.
Not even picking the best leaf. How frustrating it must be for God to provide his children with so many good options, yet we often choose what’s right in front of us to covet and desire then scream and yell when we don’t get. How many times have you done that?
Maybe you keep choosing the same type of guy instead of getting off the easy path and looking for someone special, someone out of your comfort zone. Or maybe it’s your job you’re settling on, or plan for your life? Are you reaching for the ugly brown leaf—an ordinary life—or are you aiming for the bright, exquisite leaf, a life that takes more work to find but is infinitely better? The life God intends for you.
If our goal is directed toward the ugly leaf then eventually we may get it. God might take pity on our whining and crying and help us or allow us to achieve it. Then all we’ll have is dead leaf. We may have learned a little something about God’s nature, but we’ll still be holding tight to our own useless, unfruitful agenda.
Be brave, aim high, God has spread a beautiful world of options before you. Choose wisely. And remember to be grateful for Jesus even when the leaves you wanted are ugly.