Of doubts and donut machines

My daughter was not very happy with me yesterday. She was going on a ride with her dad, and the book I gave her to read was Robert McCloskey’s Homer Price.

“Oh, Mom!” she groaned. “Can’t I have something FUN to read?”

She disregarded my assurances that this book was well-loved by the Bretheren (as we sometimes refer to the three older brothers, now in their late teens and early 20s). It was not a book about ponies, princesses, fairies, tea parties, or animals. The cover was a little plain and uninviting. She doubted my judgment… but then tucked the book into her backpack.

Fast forward about 12 hours, and this was the same book I found her reading after dinner… and last night, when she was supposed to be getting ready for bed. It is the same book that I had to confiscate at the breakfast table this morning, so she would focus on her food.

“Hmmm… isn’t this that same book that you didn’t think would be fun to read?” I tucked in a bookmark and set the book aside.

With a little prompting, and some reluctant smiles, Eliana admitted the book surprised her. This was her book review: “It’s hilarious, a little heart-warming, and weird; a good weird!” (Notice the nice vocabulary flourishes that come from avid young readers; you’ve got to love that!)

It was a similar story, ten-plus years back, when the boys were handed the book. They dragged their feet about starting it. They groaned. They probably had a good distracting wrestling fight. But when they got down to reading, they were captivated by wholesome and funny tales about Aroma the skunk, a boy capturing robbers, small town silliness, and a donut machine gone crazy. They were surprised, and a little embarrassed to admit, that Mom wasn’t so mean after all, and that a school assignment could be fun.

It would be nice to report that the lesson was learned, and from then on no one doubted my judgment, and never had trouble getting cooperation in our home school! Nice, but not true.

And that is just human nature, to doubt the goodness of something simply because we can’t immediately see the benefit to us; or it doesn’t line up with our preconceptions of what is good.

Have you ever looked at God’s commandments and prescriptions for good living (Ephesians is full of them, for example), and doubted their goodness, or at least that they applied to you? I have. Immediately, examples come to mind of times when I groaned inwardly and thought, “Really? That doesn’t sound like fun.” Or even, “That doesn’t sound very politically correct.” Also, “That doesn’t seem very loving.”

But my Heavenly Father knows best. I’ve discovered this more and more, the longer I follow Him. It’s a process, isn’t it? We don’t emerge from the womb knowing how to walk and talk and feed ourselves; we learn by growth, trial, observation, maturity. In the same way, I’ve become stronger and wiser each time I learn that I can trust my Father to know what is best.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

A good lesson for me to remember, as I go eat a donut and try not to act too smug around my little girl.

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