Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I can vaguely recall a TV series called Dinosaurs. Anyone else? It was an American family sitcom originally broadcast on ABC from April 26, 1991 to July 20, 1994, about a family of anthropomorphic dinosaurs (portrayed by puppets). Imagine my shock when Wikipedia listed a 3 year run for this series, since all I can clearly remember from the whole thing is one phrase. “Not the Momma!” If you aren’t familiar or you have successfully blocked it out, let me introduce you:
The last few years, I have watched each of my grandkids go through a similar stage as this dinosaur, although, I would like to think, without the malice. Many kids experience a period of time where no one can quite fill their needs like Momma. Daddies, grandparents, friends and others may try, but Momma blinders are a real thing. She holds the crown in cuddling, singing, playing, changing diapers, and fixing boo boos. She is the favorite – for however long the stage lasts. Some luxuriate in this phase longer than others.
Shelby, in all of her innocence, still loves cuddle time with her Mommy. She doesn’t really discriminate, though. She loves snuggling with Daddy, Sister, Nana, Papa, Aunt Kristen – pretty much anyone who will slow down long enough to give her a hug. Shelby’s sister Allie is also a touchy-feely child. I cherish the times she still crawls up in my lap as well. There is often a difference between Shelby’s love and Allie’s love, however. Allie is mature enough to understand that there are things I can do for her. She knows I can take her places, buy her favorite treats, give her permissions, forgive her mistakes and loosen the purse strings. So SOMETIMES when Allie throws her arms around me or tells me she loves me, one of the things I can do for her is rattling around in her vast grey matter. Whether it is intentional (sometimes) or not (other times), she is buttering me up to an advantageous answer to an “ask” that is surely coming. I don’t want to give you the impression that Allie’s motives are always tainted. She is a loving child and we have a good relationship, but human nature comes through, making it impossible without God’s divine help for any thought or action to be completely pure.
Shelby is largely an exception. With the behavioral development of a 21 month old, the relationship between cause and effect is very distant. Mostly fuzzy. She has no idea where money comes from or how she gets the things she owns. The thought would definitely not occur to her that if she treated me a certain way I might be more likely to get her a piece of candy from the pantry or put her favorite show on the TV. Those are things that just happen. So when Shelby wants to hug me, and cuddle with me. or just sit right beside me – there is something so very sweet going on in those moments. I know there is no where else she would rather be. I feel the pure, simple love flow out of her and I am aware to my core that she wants to be with me simply for who I am.
As Shelby and I sat in church snuggling just like that this past Sunday, I thought about how much God must desire the same thing from me. I spend time with Him every day, but there is often an agenda. I have a certain Bible passage I want to study and “check off”. I have a list of prayer requests and needs to bring to him. I ask. And I’ll be honest, the more I get to know Him the more powerful I learn He is. So the asking will not stop. But during these months of cancer treatment, I have learned how sweet it is to set my “wants” aside. You would think after being diagnosed with the Big C, my needs and intercessions would grow exponentially, but the opposite has happened. I have a special needs child. I know how to ask. So I think God wanted to teach me something very different. I have learned to just sit. I have been more quiet and still during this time than I ever remember being. I have meditated on scripture and pondered His attributes and what He means to me. I have turned off the noise and listened.
I have not been able to fill every day with peace and silence. It is summer and I have kids, but the days I’ve been able to carve out that time have been so much sweeter. I sit with Him just because of who He is. I learn that other things I try to fill my time with are “Not the Daddy”. There is no one like my Heavenly Father. And the crazy thing is, the more I have set my agenda aside, the less important my agenda has become. When I shifted my focus from making lists of requests, I found I don’t have nearly as many requests. I am learning that all I really need is to be with Him, and His peace begins to dull the edges of all my needs. Immediacy gives way. And although I may never fully understand this side of heaven that God is all I need, I am catching and cultivating a glimpse.