“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:19
Although I’ve lived in spacious places all my life, I have never once been able to comprehend the Lord delighting in me. Loving me, yes. Tolerating me, sure. Choosing me to be in His family and then sticking by the choice because He’s honorable, even when I’m aggravating as crap? Not my problem, He chose me!
I never understood delight until I had the opportunity to watch my daughter learn something. To watch her try and try and try again, failing so many times and occasionally screaming a little in frustration, until one day she got it.
If you could see it, the proud smile she makes when she finally gets something, it would slay you. And there my husband and I are, cheering like fools for something truly insignificant, just like she’s won the Nobel Prize.
Because for her it’s not insignificant, for her it was a massive achievement. She may not know that, but I do! And the day I finally figured out what it was I was feeling, it brought tears to my eyes.
I delight in her.
I delight in the way she stubbornly persists trying to figure things out, in the way she suddenly gives up and flings her hand to her chest and looks me in the eye to say “please fix it for me.” The way she comes to me for comfort when things don’t go as she’d hoped, even though what happened is exactly what I told her would.
I delight in the way she keeps trying new things and is never content to rest on her laurels. I delight in her little frustration move — she claps her hands together once angrily and makes a little shriek. Sometimes there’s a foot stomp involved. I try to look away so she doesn’t see me smile.
I even once found myself delighting in watching her little mind learn manipulation. I could see the gears turning and watched her try to give me something I wanted so I’d give her something she wanted. It didn’t bode well for our future, but in the moment I delighted in how smart and creative she is.
I don’t care that she picks her cheerios out of the spoon instead of using it properly, nor the mess to clean up afterword. She’ll learn that skill eventually. Maybe next week, maybe next month, but what’s the rush? She’s dang cute now just as she is.
I don’t chastise her for dreaming big — even when I know her little hands aren’t strong enough to lift the thing she wants desperately to lift — even when both she and the thing inevitably go crashing to the ground and tears ensue.
I don’t belittle her because she’s not tall enough to get in and out of her tricycle since it still has the safety ring around the seat — even though it means I have to lift her in and out — and also have to unclick the belt every minute or two because she can’t do it yet but still wants to keep practicing clicking herself in since she only recently figured out how to do that.
I don’t expect the impossible, because that would say more about my lack of intellect than her ability — oh come on, you’re almost 16 months already, you should be able to drive yourself to college.
I’m quite certain that other stages of development will not be so cute or delightful, at least from my point of view. For instance, I know for a fact that my mother loves me — always has and always will — but when I was 13 and struggling to learn to express myself and manage hormones and all the other horrible, hard things we have to figure out at that age, I’m pretty sure there was not a tremendous amount of delighting going on.
But I think it might be true that God delights in us even then — even when we’re raging adolescents sneaking out of the house and screaming in rebellion. I think there’s a good chance He might look at us even in that immature state and say, oh, look how good they’re doing! Look how quickly they’re learning! Look how hard they’re struggling trying to figure themselves out. I love them!
This morning my daughter is on the tail-end of being sick for a week. It’s the first time she’s had a fever, a cough, a cold of any kind. I think she’s handled it magnificently. But this morning she seems a little tired of it all. Most of the time she’s been grouchy, grumpy, whiny … and then in a blink she’ll flash her beautiful smile and start laughing at something stupid.
After watching her switch back and forth for a couple hours, I actually thought to myself — can’t you stay with one emotion for more than 30 seconds?
I can imagine the Father looking down on me — me, who in the space of 30 seconds can go from oh, she’s the cutest thing in all of creation to argh! get me out of here I just want five minutes to myself and then back again — and I think He’s thinking are you ever going to learn to be less selfish? But really, He might actually be thinking, oh, look at how much she’s growing! She managed to stay unselfish for a whole 45 seconds that time — that’s a new world record! And maybe He makes a bit of a fool of Himself up there clapping for me!
The main problem with understanding delight might be the simple fact that I think I’m a grown adult and should be capable of so much more, and therefore bash myself internally and get so frustrated that I can’t do something as well as someone else. The problem, as always, boils down to my infernal pride.
But He sees me as the tiny child I actually am — and He delights at my progress. He’s squatting down low with arms open wide as I toddle toward Him, trying to keep my balance while frequently distracted, stumbling often and occasionally falling on my head.
His face is shining with pride and enthusiasm, cheering for me and urging me on to where He’s wanted me all along, safe in His arms.