Four days before our middle one turned four, we were in the car and talking about her upcoming birthday. Most kids would be so excited about a birthday. But she said that she didn’t want to turn four. When I asked her why, she responded that she didn’t want to stop sucking her thumb.
This was the one part of her that didn’t want to grow up: she loved sucking her thumb. Sucking her thumb was her link to comfort when she was sad, scared, or tired. It provided soothing when life was more than she could handle. When used in connection to holding her blankie, sucking her thumb would set the world back on its axis.
This was the second year that as her birthday approached she said that she would stop sucking her thumb when she was a certain age. Then when her birthday was really here, she just couldn’t do it! So we talked about it some. I told her that maybe she could try to just suck her thumb in her bed once she turned four. That calmed her down and then she said this, “Mommy, I’ll be a big girl when I turn 100.”
Oh, the wisdom of a child! I could see the wheels turning in that little mind. She recognized her pattern of promising to stop and not being able to. So, she picked the biggest age she could fathom and said she would stop then! (On a side note, she is now 9 and hasn’t sucked her thumb in several years. But in my heart, she is still the sad eyed baby above whenever she is hurting.)
I don’t know about you, but I do this too. I tell myself that I will be more disciplined when XYZ is over or I will stop doing something when I am a certain age. They are all excuses for not facing up to my own inability to stop sinful patterns in my own life. I wonder if I ever truly see these patterns until the consequences catch up with me? You know, I have loved to eat and hated to exercise most of my life. But the pattern didn’t raise any red flags until my clothes were getting tight!
What would happen if I took responsibility for sin before consequences caught up with me? What would happen if I took the time to stop and be aware of my own soul’s reaction to sin? What if those were consequence enough to get my attention? What if I recognized my own helplessness to stop and instead invited in the power of God to change my heart so that my behavior would follow?
Those are hard questions that make me want to say, “Lord, I’ll be a big girl when I’m 100.”
And this is the question I face this year in Lent: God, where do I resist You?