When my kids were small, they would often parrot back to me the words I said to them. If I noticed my child wanted to be held, I would ask. “Andrew, do you want me to pick you up?” And I then picked him up.
Over and over, this pattern and language repeated itself until the words were burned in his mind.
Then, one day, he asked me directly. “Pick you up?”
He didn’t know how to ask with the correct sequence of words to get what he wanted. But he could bank on one thing—a parent who tried to help him feel safe, connected, and heard.
So, I picked him up. Again. And again. And again.
Over time I purposely added some language to his request. “Oh, are you asking Mommy to pick you up?” Great Mom parenting moment, here! I’m slyly teaching him. Awesome.
“Yeah, pick you up.”
Nope, that didn’t work.
Next, I tried direct teaching this time. I’ll simply say what Andrew should say instead. “Will you pick me up, please?” The look on his face mirrored confusion. Why would I want him to pick me up? Goodness. I was a giant compared to him. I’m sure his young processing system could not believe that one.
Finally, I did what worked the best—absolutely nothing. I let the young boy ask anyway he wanted without turning it into a teaching moment. After all, it was about connection—not correctness. I soon had another chance with his little Mickey Mouse voice.
“Mama, pick you up?”
Let him ask any old way he wants.
“Sure, darling, I’ll pick you up.” And snuggling that little sweaty toddler, I drank in his innocence and simply connected with him. He had a need, and I could fill it. He didn’t need to voice it any particular way at all. I wanted to be there for him no matter how he asked. I knew he would figure it out on his own as he matured. I didn’t need to make it a teaching moment—but rather a moment to fill his need for relationship.
Do you ever wonder if Father feels that way about us?
The day had been a bit of an insecure one for me. Lots of thoughts were streaming through my mind. I couldn’t keep up with them to even capture them. After a satisfying exercise routine, I sat down with my Bible and read a passage I had never seen before.
Weak and feeble ones you will sustain.
Those bent over with burdens of shame you will lift up.
You have captured our attention
and the eyes of all look to you.
You give what they hunger for at just the right time.
When you open your generous hand, it’s full of blessings,
satisfying the longings of every living thing.
You are fair and righteous in everything you do,
and your love is wrapped into all your works.
I can still picture it—feel it in my stomach—how I came to Father God at that moment.
“Father, I need you. I don’t know even how to ask you for what I need. I have no clue what’s wrong inside.”
My, how very close to “pick you up” does that sound?
Father—so much a better parent than I—doesn’t need the right words, the formulaic prayer, or the language to be “just so.” He wants to be there for us no matter how we ask. He longs to be there for us, filling our needs and making sure we know we are loved. He reminds us that we are called in righteousness, and then swoops down and picks us up!
Held safely in his arms, he watches over us. Delighting in us. Twirling us around himself. Dancing with us. Comforting us.
Aren’t you glad that we don’t have to ask in just the right way with Father?
Allow yourself to breath out all of conditional words like “should,” “ought,” and “must.” He already knows you will mature and pick up the language of connection. You are wired for that in your spirit anyhow. He’s not out to always be “teaching you a lesson” every second of the day. He wants to enjoy his child—you and me—no matter how we ask.
“Pick you up?”
Sure, Darling. Always.
Aleisha Cate @GraceunLEISHed
Feel free to join the conversation below and/or share on social media. By subscribing on the top of my home page, you will receive occasional post notices and updates. I am thrilled to connect with you. Thank you for sharing your time with me today!