My daughter is a creature of habit. Like many 3-year-olds, she thrives on consistency, routine, and order, and sometimes almost to a perplexing degree. Woe to me if I think of a creative idea for snack time on Monday without supplies for the exact same tuna-fish sailboat sandwich with an orange-slice sun on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Did I sit in a particular beach chair to watch her swimming lessons on day one? Then the chair better be vacant the rest of the session, because that is now our chair, where I will sit and clap my hands each time she pops out of the water. I will do this, because it is the routine. I will also lie on her floor every night next to her bed and hold her hand until she falls asleep. I’ll cut her peanut butter and jelly toast into little squares, crust removed. I’ll do these things, because it brings her comfort. It helps her feel a sense of order in a vast and confusing world.
It’s amusing to watch my daughter agonize over the shapes of her bread, but really, I find I’m not that different. In the most insane moments of my day, I, too, am quick to look to my Father for the assurance of His consistency, the comfort of His order. When the weeks get long, I covet my morning prayer times; I anticipate the Celebration of Mass. The routine of seeking Him helps me bring order to my day. And I know that my loving Father is always ready to hold my hand, is always quick to offer His constancy when the world looms so large. The grass might wither and the flowers fade, but the word of God stands forever. Like my toddler, when I weak, I must look outside of myself to what is strong.
My daughter won’t need me forever. I know that there will come a time when my little girl won’t want me in her room at night. She won’t need to see me cheering her on at swimming or holding her hand as she falls asleep. And all too soon the baby boy cradled in my arms will be too big for me to cradle, and too grown up for his mother’s embrace. But maybe these little seeds of consistency will help my children learn to continue to look outside themselves when they are weak to find what is truly strong. We never out-grow our need to grasp on to the One bigger than us. We will always need to hold His hand in the darkest night and let Him guide our way. So while it is true that I am tired now, let me embrace these moments to let my children lean on me, that I might lean on my Father, and that through these interactions, they will see that yes, this is the way: there is indeed a higher order to our world; there is One who is a Rock. And He will never change. He is always ready to offer His love -- the kind of love that lays itself down.