She swoons and stomps like the successfully bred drama queen that she is. She always has, I guess. And yesterday, when I caught her slopping dirty dishes into a sudsy sink when I’d asked her to clean her room, I wasn’t as appreciative as she’d hoped.
“Honey, is that what I asked you to do?”
She bowed her head, but her shoulders said she was angry.
“Now go and finish your room, please,” I said.
Tornadoes come in all shapes and sizes. This one was tall and thin and almost seven years old. “You never let me do ANYTHING I WANT. Nobody likes me in this house!!”
And then she didn’t clean her room, she climbed up into her bed and sank down as low as she could.
That was yesterday.
Today, she disobeyed me and then lied about it. Well, she tried to lie. Her eyes can’t bear it. We sat together, and I stroked her hair. I reminded her of the commandments that had just been broken, and then I pointed her to the cross for forgiveness. The Gospel. The Gospel always works.
But sometimes it takes a minute.
She wanted her own way. She’s a regular human being, my first born baby girl. And I wasn’t quite catching her vision…the one where the world revolves around her. The more I explained that she had disobeyed, the angrier she became.
“But I just don’t understand what’s wrong with that?” she questioned.
‘Nothing, except that it was disobedience.”
And she grew angrier still.
“You need to talk to God about this,” I offered. And then she insisted that it’s much easier to hear the devil, but it’s pretty hard to hear God. And I sighed. I understand.
“Honey, what if all Daddy needed me to do was wash his clothes.” I was attempting to break it down. “Before he left for the day, he said, ‘Would you mind please washing my clothes, even if that means you don’t have time for anything else? It’s really important to me.’ And I answered that I would.”
She nodded, and even smiled a little, like she already knew where I was going.
“But as soon as Daddy left, I decided that he’d probably rather have an amazing meal. And, in fact, I cooked such a feast that I didn’t have time to do anything else. Oh, I slaved and I slaved!”
She gets it.
I laughed, “Yes, and to think I was going to make it simple.” And then a tear tumbled down my cheek. I always cry when I think about Cain. “But what if Daddy came home and saw the amazing meal I made, and then realized he still didn’t have clean clothes? Do you think he’d be able to appreciate the meal like I wanted him to?”
“No, I guess not.”
“He’d still be sweet about it, but he’d probably be a little hurt that I ignored what he really needed,” Tears filled my eyes, causing her to move closer, because I was still thinking about Cain.
“Do you feel sorry for Cain? Cause I do.” She must have been reading my thoughts.
“Yes, I guess I do,” I sniffed. ”Oh, baby girl,” by this point I was beginning to motion and sob, barely able to speak, “Cain worked so, so hard.”
Now tears welled in her eyes, too.
“You should have seen the size of his tomatoes! And those carrots?!” I took a little liberty with the Scriptures.
“And the broccoli?” she wondered.
“Oh, good grief the broccoli was amazing!”
All of my children have an unusual love for broccoli.
“And he brought it before God,” I continued, “so proud of what he had done, just to have God practically knock it out of his hands.” I was on the floor with Cain, now. “But Cain was wrong, sweet girl. All he had to do was say, ‘I’m sorry, I know this isn’t what you asked of me. I will buy a lamb from Abel and make it right.’”
“Cain was very proud. He worked for praise, not out of worship. God still loved him very much, and he kept on warning him of the Devil, but Cain wouldn’t listen.”
“And he killed his brother.”
“Yes, just for receiving the love and praise that he wanted. Obedience, baby, not sacrifice. Obedience is better.”
And then she pondered deeply, “Do you think God would have liked to see Cain’s vegetables after he brought an animal?”
After thinking a second and wiping my eyes, I said, “Oh, I think He would have loved them.”
And just like that, the attitude was gone. We sat and held each other, still sniffling as we prayed.
Obedience is better than sacrifice. And, I think, sometimes God’s ways are easier than we make them.