Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Delighting In Imitation

I'm reading with my youngest tonight. She does what is her latest cute thing. "Me read to you now, mommy. Me read it, 'kay?"

I happily oblige. I love to watch her toddler attempts at story. She holds the book upside down as we begin. She, who has just heard the story, "reads" to me the same line over and over again. "Once upon a time, first baby bear has some messes." She turns the page. "Once upon a time, first baby bear has some messes." She goes on like this with each progressive page --still reading upside down. She looks at me after every single page, anticipating my wonder at her newfound skill. She speaks with lisps. I think it's quite adorable. I enjoy just watching her revel in this "reading". I gaze at her expressions as she reads, so full of life. I take in the look of joy and wonder and excitement on her face as she practices what she's seen me do over and over and over again in her short little life. Who knows how many books I've read since I gave birth to the first child nearly 6 years ago now?

While she continues, I notice that the book, of quite an average size, takes up her entire lap. Her little half-painted toenails are all that peek out at the bottom half of her body. Her chubby little torso all that is revealed from the top of the book on up. Of course, being only two years old, she uses the pictures for her main meaning-making. She finds no use whatsoever for the words. Her understandings of the pictures are quite simplistic. The man in black is bad. The little bears are good. The things she utters are not profound, but I delight in them. Because I'm her mama, and she's growing up. I think she's brilliant and adorable. I love her attempts to imitate. I wonder at her efforts to understand, to make meaning, to share what she's doing with me.

And then it hits me. Does my Father look at me this way? So often, I think that I must be better, do better, do more. But, does the Father really think that? Or does He, like me, just revel in all that his little daughter is attempting? Does He wonder over me the same way that I wonder over my little child? After all, I'm his little child.

I think back to the reading scenario. Why did I not scold my daughter that the book was upside down, that the words were not related to the story at all, that her attempts at pronunciation were lacking? Because she's learning. She's growing. And growth takes time. And growth is borne out of mistakes and trial and error. And because I think she's so darn cute! Could it be that my Father might possibly think the same of me?

Like my own daughter, do I look like a little toddler to the Father, barely big enough to hold the Book? Does He too think my attempts at explaining, at meaning-making, at understanding are wonderful, even if they are a little off-base sometimes? So often, I think He must think I am childish, foolish, weak, and lazy. But yet, I would never think this about my daughter's first attempts at reading. Does the Father just patiently reveal His same truths over and over to me, just waiting me to understand the full meaning of His truth in the same way I will read the book over and over again to my daughter, until she can narrate the story on her own?

Thank you, Father, that You gave us a Story --the living Word, Jesus Christ. And the Word gave us pictures, and parables, and explanations of what love is, through His example. Oh to hold on to this image of my daughter! Does the Father hold onto each image of me? Does He store up his own "videos" as I grow? Does He look back and see? Now that makes this daughter smile.


Stacy said...

He takes great delight in you, Joni! :) What a beautiful post, and what an incredible thought: that as much as we cherish these little ones He's entrusted to us, He cherishes us all the more.
A good picture to hold in my own mind,

beth said...

I loved this. I needed to be reminded of this today. What beautiful thoughts, friend.

Anonymous said...

You are such a great writer, Joni. I know I've said that before, but it's true. Great thoughts. I loved reading this entry.

Cindy said...

And THIS is why I'm one day going to have an autographed book by Joni Noel.