My oldest son and I curled up on the couch a few days ago during the baby's nap to read some books and warm up together. He brought me a few of his classics including Daniel and the Lions' Den. I thought it was a good choice because lately he's been dealing with some anxieties, and I thought that book could help us talk through some of his fears.
We read it twice cover to cover before he exclaimed, "Read it again, mom!" Because that's what 2.5 year olds do, you know; they beat everything into the ground until it's flat as a pancake. He made no exception for dear old Daniel and his den full of lions. So normally when we read a book for the third time we talk about the pictures and what's really going on in the story and other little things the text omits because hey, it's a kids' book and the authors cannot cram everything into 10 cardboard pages with out losing the kids completely to something else that is bright and exciting in the room like carpet lint. (No joke; that's happened here when we've tried to read books that are just way too long for toddlers.)
During our third reading, my little guy noticed Daniel wasn't wearing shoes in one of the pictures; in another picture Daniel is wearing shoes.
This had to be discussed. So we talked about it. I assured him Daniel had shoes, even though he wasn't wearing them at that moment on that page, you know, "like you don't wear shoes all of the time, buddy."
We turned the page, and I tried to discuss how we don't have to be afraid when we ask for God's help.
But he just couldn't get over the shoes.
"Where are his shoes, mommy? Where are they? Why isn't he wearing his shoes?" my son questioned.
"Honey," I said, "we already talked about this. We don't always need to wear shoes. Let's talk about the more important part of the story. We don't need to worry about the shoes."
He looked at me in disbelief, like I was crazy for not getting the shear importance of why it was such a tragedy that Daniel wasn't wearing shoes.
"He NEEEEEDS to wear his shoes, mommy! He needs to wear them! His feet will get hurt!" my little one exclaimed, clearly exasperated at why I wasn't fixing such a debacle.
Right there, I prayed for some carpet lint to distract him or patience or something, anything to get him off of the great shoe crisis of 2010 [or some unknown BC date if we're talking about Daniel].
After about five more minutes of shoe discussion, he was satisfied after I acknowledged that Daniel really should have been wearing shoes and that he probably needed a time out to think about why he should have been wearing shoes. At that point, my oldest bounded off my lap and scurried to his playroom. And we never did get to talk about the bigger picture -- about why we don't need to be afraid when we ask for God's help because we can trust God. He simply wouldn't sit still long enough to discuss the most important lesson of the story.
And it made me wonder; how often do I curl up with God to discuss the shoes of life when He really wants to talk to me about trusting Him with my life. How often do I get sidetracked by the shoes, find satisfaction in His answer and bound away from His feet before we ever get to the bottom of the real issue.
Answer: Every day. Every. single. day.
Here's to not getting stuck on the shoes tomorrow.