Does God Just Shake His Head?

Sure, she looks real innocent in the picture above.  Pretty dress.  Wonderful smile.  Playful pose.  One would never guess from the above picture that Abigail is our "different" child.  By "different" I mean that she's willful.  She's different than our other four kids in that she can be defiant and manipulative in ways that the others just haven't been.  And with four other kids we think we've had some experience.

A week or so ago I took "The Short Louds" -- Abigail and her twin sister Bethany -- to a coffee shop on one of our Daddy Days.  Honestly, it was their choice.  I had offered a bicycle ride but was overruled.  So we walked on down.  We ate and drank and they played.  We checked mail.  And we walked on back.  This was a pretty long walk for the two of them but they could handle it.  Bethany complained about the walk but she bounced along beside me.  Abigail didn't bounce.  Abigail dragged behind, whining, moaning and generally being disagreeable.  There was a lot of yelling.

I could tell, as she dragged her feet and kept falling farther and farther behind, that SHE KNEW I wouldn't leave her behind.  And, SHE KNEW that by dragging her feet and fading and complaining she was getting on my nerves and she was getting her way.

Abigail's a smart four year-old.  She, already, is a master at manipulation.  She's always been the kind of kid that was very sure where the boundaries were.  And she was always very intentional about testing those boundaries...whether it's "stay in bed" or "don't hit your sister" or "no you can't have a chocolate."

Look, she's not a horrible child.  She can be so generous at times.  She can be bubbly.  She loves to snuggle with me.  She can be driven and competitive.  She's her own girl.

This comes through in the clothes she puts on (even though we've said it's too cold for shorts) to being very sure she doesn't want to eat the mashed potatoes or whatever it is on her plate.  She marches to the beat of her own drum and getting her to march to ours can be a struggle.  Even tonight as we got the young ones ready for bed and she always seemed to have one more thing to do...anything to delay the process...we were left with nothing left in our "bag of tricks."

She certainly makes life interesting.

But as I walked home from the coffee shop last week, Abigail whining and moaning behind me, I just shook my head.  Actually, I shook my head...and laughed.  I love that little girl so much but she is so good at making it difficult on Julie and me.  She's a conundrum.  And she's all ours.  We'd do anything for her.  But, boy, she makes parenting challenging.

This made me wonder if God, when faced with our willfulness, out of a mixture of love and frustration, just shakes his head.  Maybe he laughs a little as well.  He loves us so much that he sent his son to die on our behalf.  He'd do anything for us.  And yet we disobey.  We test the boundaries.  We cross over them.  We drag our feet.  And we're all his.

May I live in such a way today that I don't give God any reason to shake his head at me today. And if he does...I hope he laughs a bit, too.