Circumstances led to our family housing not five but six little girls last week, and it was a joy to have my little niece as a part of our family for those few days.
While “princess camp” may have been a little pink and fluffy for my husband, it was a great chance to build a stronger relationship with a sweet little girl. Our youngest was still the youngest by about 6 months, but what a difference 6 months can make.
For example: baths. Our little Lucy loves to take baths, but she is truly terrible at it. Her cousin, on the other hand, was pretty much the superhero of the bathing world. Lucy can play and splash with the best of them, but she has yet to figure out that she can trust her mother not to drown her when it comes time to rinse shampoo out of her hair.
My 6 year old, Leah, was “helping” me give the two little ones a bath, and she also noticed how her cousin would “look up” as directed, and no soap went in her eyes or her face, while her little sister was not so cooperative. Our poor little 2-year-old was pretty miserable with the soap running down into her eyes and mouth.
The solution…just trust
Leah saw the solution immediately. “Mommy, if Lucy would just obey what you’re telling her , she wouldn’t get soap in her eyes.”
Isn’t that the truth, I thought. “Well,” I said. “Why do you suppose she doesn’t obey?”
She thought for a second. “Because… because she’s afraid of getting soap in her eyes?”
“Probably. But what happens when she fights me? She gets soap in her eyes, right?” A nod.
“So here we have two little toddlers taking the same bath. Both are getting their hair washed and rinsed, but one of them is miserable. Which one is sad? The one who trusts me, or the one who doesn’t?”
“The one who doesn’t trust! Lucy, you should trust Mommy!”
The value of suffering…it depends on our response
I didn’t finish the conversation with Leah, as I had to find a towel to help Lu with her stinging eyes, but the tale stuck with me. It reminded me in some small way of how we respond to circumstances in our lives.
As Catholics, we believe that suffering has value, but it’s value really depends on our response to it. Just like poor little Lucy in the bathtub, we can become convinced that the world is out to drown/get us, and focus our sight “down” or inside ourselves. We can fight it, get soap in our eyes, and really make it worse. Or, we can be like that trusting little child who follows the counter-intuitive call to look up and trust Him and submit ourselves to the cleansing work He wants to do in our lives.
(Mandie DeVries, Director of Religious Education, All Saints Parish)