God humbled me in the middle of the Wal-Mart toy aisle.
My daughter and I were running errands together. At first she didn’t want to go, but I bribed her with two things: getting out of cleaning her toy room and browsing the toy aisle. She quickly jumped in the car.
For many weeks she’d needed to pick up her toy room. Thanks to piles of Barbies, dress up clothes and stuffed animals, the floor was nowhere in sight. Yet despite the lack of cleanliness, and despite having way too many toys to begin with, I wanted to bring her joy.
So away to the toy aisle we went.
We had already discussed how I wasn’t going to buy her anything (We are just looking!) and I’d asked that instead of saying “I want this” or “I need this,” she say “I like this.” But as we walked toward the aisle, she had a new idea:
“Can you start a birthday list for me?”
The planner inside of me was so proud.
I gladly took out my phone and began a note titled “Mae’s birthday list.” I expected her to be selective in what she added since this would be the list given to her grandparents for gift ideas. I was also hoping she would remember her overflowing toy room and realize she didn’t need any of the toys in the aisle. But that’s not what happened.
For the next fifteen minutes, I typed in the description of nearly every pink-boxed, doll-faced, cute-animal toy on the shelves. She had three bins of Barbies at home – but she asked for more. She had so many stuffed animals we ran out of places to put them – yet she asked for a cute furry wolf, puppy and a kitten. She got a Hatchimole for her birthday last year – but there’s a new one that comes with twins. That went on the list. Toys from TV commercials, toys her friends own, toys that looked fun – she wanted them all.
In 15 minutes, I had written down 22 different types of toys. Panic and dread hit my heart.
Have I taught her nothing? Is she not grateful for what she has? Does she seriously think she needs more toys?
My thoughts were racing and fear hit me hard: I was raising a privileged, spoiled kid. Lies telling me I’d failed, attacks on my confidence and whispers of shame began to chip away.
Yet in his great kindness, the Lord quickly and quietly whispered to my shaken heart: “Danielle, she’s asking like a child.”
In that short moment of clarity, humility and conviction hit me in places I didn’t even know were broken. She was asking for gifts in the same way God wants us to pray. I was humbled that God would use my child to teach me such a critical and fundamental lesson on prayer and asking.
I realized I had been “praying it safe.”
I saw how easy it is for us parents to avoid recklessly asking and praying like our kids.
Our prayers are for what’s “right” and what’s practical. We ask God for things that fit the budget. We often look at our lives and blessings in maturity and assume we have enough. Or we pray for what seems possible and doable, unaware we’re doubting that miracles still take place.
We pray like adults.
Yet if faith means we pray like children, God must long for us to ask Him for more as his sons and daughters. That’s what he showed me in the toy aisle that day. He wants us to ask for more provision – even if we feel like we have enough. He wants to hear our hopes and dreams – pushing past the doubts that they would actually come true. He wants us to ask him to heal, speak and show up – even if it seems like there’s no way. He wants us to ask for magical characters to come to life – even if reality says it’s fantasy.
He’s longing for our invitation to walk down an aisle with Him and point to everything on the shelves our hearts desire not because we’re guaranteed to receive it all- my daughter knew that day in the toy aisle that not every item going on that list would end up in her toy room- but we ask because we love and trust God enough to bring our desires, and believe Him for the right answer.
“Whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
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