It happens when she’s the most stressed out and anxious and tired.
My six-year-old whines, “Mom! I wanna be like YOU! I just can’t be like you!”
Now, you should know that Jenna is like me in more ways than I can count. We’re both firstborns with a lot of younger siblings. We even both hit “oldest of four” status at just barely five and a half. She likes to write. She likes to take pictures. She sounds EXACTLY LIKE ME when she talks to the littler kids. She’s precocious and independent, as I was. She loves jalapeños, for heaven’s sake. Her strengths, weaknesses, interests, and mannerisms are eerily (sometimes frustratingly) similar to mine.
So when she starts fussing about wanting to be like me, I start countering with all of these things. “Baby, you are like me. You are so like me!”
She hears none of it. “But I CAN’T be like you! I’m only six! And you’re… far too old!” (I know.) “…and you have four babies! I don’t even have one in my TUMMY. And you know how to cook! And drive! I can’t do any of those things! I. JUST. CAN’T. BE. YOU.”
You know what? I feel her pain.
I have the same problem. I’ve been living this life as a follower of Jesus since I was younger than she is now, and I get frustrated.
He’s gentle and kind. Usually, I’m neither of those things. I want to interact with my kids in ways that are calm, consistent, and compassionate, but in general, I can hit two out of those three on a good day.
I get angry about really stupid things. For instance, nap time. When somebody wakes the little two during that sacred space in the afternoon reserved for glamorous things like bathroom cleaning and meal prep, I about lose. my. mind. I don’t think Jesus would get enraged at a random teenager playing basketball in the street because she caused His dog to bark and wake the babies. He gets angry, certainly, but not over inconveniences.
He is wise. I… try really hard. Most days, though, I’m at a loss. I have these little ones and I’m supposed to teach them how to be people, but I don’t even know how to be a person sometimes. I’m not sure what to do when my kid’s teacher lets me know that she’s been getting calls from other students’ parents because mine plays rougher than she should sometimes. I don’t know exactly what will connect with my kids’ hearts to impress upon them that sneaking out of their rooms at six in the morning to play with the iPad and go for a walk outside is SERIOUSLY not okay. I alternate between overreacting and underreacting. I want to parent with grace and truth, but I can’t find that line. I am fairly certain Jesus isn’t completely winging it like I am.
He is righteous, faithful, impartial. He knew Scripture very well (well enough to do battle with it when he was 40 days without food) and He was in constant communion with the Father.
He’s growing me in each of those areas, but I’m really not there yet.
As I sit here, listing off all the ways I’m NOT like Jesus, I’m tempted to be discouraged. All I can see is the ways that I fall short and how those insufficiencies affect the people around me. But then I hear Him telling me the same things I told Jenna the last time she and I had that conversation.
You have time.
That’s what you’re here for: to learn how to be like Me. That is the entire point.
You’ll learn all of those things and it’s completely okay that you don’t have them all under control right this second. I’ll teach you when the time comes.
I love how much you want to be like me. You already ARE like me in more ways than you know.
Try to get some rest. I love you.
And, like my firstborn, I’m learning (very slowly) to obey and to rest in the truth that “God, who began the good work within [me], will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Phillipians 1:6, NLT)
We will get there, friend. Slowly, incrementally, but as sure as His promises, He’ll continue His work in us.