Last week, Mark complained of a stomach ache and I ignored it. That’s because the kid has been clutching his stomach and moaning almost constantly for the past month. I know it’s my fault because he and I had a lengthy talk on appendicitis (a mistake I shall not repeat anytime soon). After weeks of clutching, writhing, and whimpering, I’d sort of stopped (ahem) caring. It just became a normal part of my day to hear Mark say, “My tummy REALLY hurts!”
(Raise your hand if you know where I’m going with this.) So naturally, it happened the other night at dinner. “Mom. My tummy REALLY hurts!” Without looking up from my soup, I said, “Then don’t eat the grilled cheese.” And naturally, he ignored me. Because it’s grilled cheese, and grilled cheese is amazing. He gobbled it down and went back for more. And I let him. (Although I did give him the Don’t Complain To Me Later speech.)
Ten minutes later he “loudly complained” into a bucket, and I was gracious enough not to say “I told you so!” (Plus, Nathanael covered that quite thoroughly for me.)
And so began three very looooooooong days of Mark’s convalescence. The first day he didn’t think about food, but after his stomach was completely empty his every thought was obsessed with how to fill it up again. Not that I blame him. But I knew he wasn’t ready. We tried jello, toast, and soup. But he wanted what the rest of the family was eating. He wanted hamburgers, green beans, waffles, orange juice. And every time I said no, he wailed, “It’s not fair!”
At first, I was patient. I said things like, “Mark, you just have to trust me. I know what’s best for you and I know it will only make your tummy worse if I give you that.” (And Nathanael would pipe in with, “Remember what she said about the grilled cheese!”) And I said things like, “I’m doing this because I love you. I want you to get better.” But Mark didn’t care, of course. He only wanted what everyone else had because it wasn’t fair otherwise.
Around Day Three, my patience wore thin. I was frustrated that he wouldn’t trust me on this, especially when it was so obvious that I knew better than him. My answers became less loving and more because-I-said-so! And by then Mark was feeling better, sleeping through the night, and well on his way to recovery. Good thing, too, because a more ornery, disagreeable person never existed…unless that person is me.
You see, I’ve been struggling a bit lately. I want something that God is saying no to. (No, it’s not a baby!:) But I’ve been praying and asking Him to give me this thing, and He has withheld it from me. Until Mark got sick, I stubbornly refused to believe that maybe it wasn’t the right thing for me at this time. It didn’t occur to me that God, Who knows what’s best for me, might not give it to me because it could hurt me. And yet, I kept praying and asking, “Please, please let me have it! It’s not fair if You don’t!”
I think He used the situation with Mark to teach me how simple this really is. To remember the promise that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Not only will things work out, but they will work out for my good. His purpose- always- for me is only good, only love. He knows if the decision is left to me I will eat the grilled cheese every time.
My prayer then changed. It became, “This is what I want, but if it’s not Your will please help me accept that.” And that’s exactly what He’s done for me. He said no to my request. It’s done. But He hasn’t left me without comfort or blessing. He gave me a heart to trust that it’s okay. He gave me a heart to know He will always do not only what’s good for me, but what’s best.