Heidi Naylor

I'm a freelance photographer based out of Morris County, New Jersey. I enjoy photographing weddings, newborns, children, and really anything else that ends up catching my eye! I also work with various nonprofits in the area. I consider myself to be fairly simple—it doesn't take too much to make me happy: company of a good book, good friend, or complete stranger. Simplicity, I think, also characterizes my style. I like simple, clean backgrounds and honest moments. I like when I'm able to catch glimpses of people simply as they are—I like the uncut, realness. I like when people forget that there's a camera in front of them; that's when I will photograph the most.

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“I feel busted,” a friend of mine confessed after listening to a song about prayer. Her words are still with me, months later, because it felt like she was speaking from my own heart, with words I’ve failed to muster. I’ve felt that before: completely found out—caught in the act, even. Romans 12:9 has a way of making me feel busted: Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.”

We’ve all felt the disappointment that comes when someone’s words don’t match their actions—when something we allowed ourselves to get excited about never came to fruition. I’m also willing to bet we’ve all done it to some degree or another. I’ve been on the receiving end of people who have claimed to miss me, and never called; I’ve also dealt it out.

I feel busted when I read Romans 12:9 because I fear, all too often, I know the right things to say. There’s this term in psychology called “inappropriate affect” which refers to a mismatch in the content of what someone is saying and how they are saying it. When someone tells a sad story, with a smile on their face, or, someone states they are happy in a depressed tone, it tells us something is wrong. There is a disconnection. I see this in myself, when I’m willing to look. I’ve acted happy, when I was afraid of how unhappy I felt. I’ve acted like I cared about things I didn’t because I felt I should care. Honestly, I’ve done a whole lot of things to appear as though I’m kinder, and more loving, I really am. That’s why I feel busted when I read Romans 12:9—because I know I’m guilty of pretending.

I think Paul is advocating for connection and authenticity, when he says “really love them.” Essentially: mean it. It occurred to me the other day that the fight to be authentic is also the fight for vulnerability. Wrapped up in my moments of acting is a desire to appear stronger and more put together than I am—it is usually fueled by a desire to not appear vulnerable. The truth is that I am, and need to be, vulnerable. I am weak, and prone to fear, save for the grace of God, and need to be vulnerable before Him, and others, if I am to know intimacy.

It is my desire to be, more and more, a person who means what I say. I want to call a bad day a bad day, be the first to admit, and laugh at, my weakness, and learn to abound in love—genuine love. The thing is: it’s not easy. We’re in this constant fight against our own duplicity, but the good, good news is that we’re not alone in it. God made vulnerability, and change, possible by loving us first. It’s said that our greatest human need is to be fully known and fully loved, and every bit of that is demonstrated in Jesus’ work on the cross. Knowing all our sin, He took it onto Himself, and sacrificed His life that we may live. Because of that: there is no longer any condemnation, or need for shame.
We can come out of hiding.

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I am perplexed and comforted by David’s words in Psalm 31:22: In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Perplexed because, if anyone had deeply experienced the goodness, and faithfulness, of the Lord, it was David. Comforted because I feel David’s words are my own. I hear my heart crying the same: “God, you cannot hear me!” Because surely, if He heard me, I would not be suffering from this or that, feel pressures from work, or have difficult relationships. Surely, if He heard me He would intervene immediately and change my circumstances.

I’ve been realizing recently that I am my own obstacle to experiencing God’s goodness. My perceptions, my expectations, and my belief that I should be the one calling the shots have created all these preconceived notions of what life should be like. And, when I don’t get the job; when I’m tired; when I don’t see progress; when money is tight; when the things I keep praying for don’t happen, I don’t feel good. When I don’t feel good, I am tempted to believe He is not good. The truth is that I often confuse God’s goodness for a feeling.

It is not natural for me to equate the heartaches and challenges I find myself navigating through with His love for me. Honestly, I’d like for my life to be more like a numbered connect the dots and less like a maze. I want to know the plan, where I’m headed, and why. I want to know why. There are days where it feels like more of an act of will than anything else to affirm and trust in His goodness. In my distress, I often feel He cannot hear me.

I hear words from Isaiah, resounding in my ears:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I wonder if changing circumstances would really solve the problem, or problems. Maybe there is something happening in me, or others, as I stumble through the struggle. Maybe God is doing something greater than I can perceive, something that is greater than my limited expectations afford. Maybe it really is good. I’ve heard that the mark of an authentic Christian is the surrender of the will and I’ve got to believe that’s what all this is about—that as we walk through unknowns and insecurities, our hands would be loosed from what they hold: that we would yield our expectations to His.

But, what do we do with the days, months or years, when life pushes in on all sides, and we feel He cannot hear us?

Remember who He is.
God’s existence—His sovereignty over us, His full-knowledge and love for us is objectively true. He is, and always will be. My subjective perspectives of Him is what changes. Filling our minds with scripture, meditating on His words, reorients us towards His character. It’s not just reading, it’s a reminder.

Spend time with His people.
I recently attended a bible study where we were confessing our inaccurate views of God; someone spoke up: “maybe in our conversations of God’s grace and goodness, your words will start to silence my own thoughts.” I think that’s true. The more we speak of Him, and what is true, the more accurately we will begin to view Him. Sometimes we need to be encouraged by others’ presence and hear talk of His love and beauty.

David goes on to say, shortly after in verse 23: “yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.” Despite David’s feelings, his misperceptions and alarm, God had not left Him. He had, in fact, heard David. And, He hears us; we just might not see it, or feel it yet. A.W. Tozer, spoke well, when he said: “With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack? Surely we are the most favored of all creatures.”

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It wasn’t unusual for my sister and I to find ourselves driving together, en route somewhere. We often went places together, having only two years between us and many of the same friends. One particular Saturday, years ago, we found ourselves headed to a friend’s graduation party a few towns over. The car windows were down and the humid summer warmth brought a certain calmness. Kristen’s legs were up on the dashboard. It was the kind of day that was so nice, you hardly felt like talking. We were intrigued by our surroundings, catching glimpses of the shops in Hackettstown, and watching passer-bys on the sidewalks. Kristen seemed a little tired that day. She rubbed her hand over her stubbled legs, took a quick glance in the mirror at her eyebrows in disarray, and looked out the window again.

“Sometimes I think maybe I should try to be more girly,” she said, still glancing out the window, “then, I think… maybe instead, I should be more concerned with my character, and whether I’m a person that’s patient and kind.”

I remember looking over at her, appalled, surprised, and proud, as she continued her gaze out the window. Her words caught me so off guard, and had me thinking so intensely, I believe I only mustered a, “yeah, I think you’re right.” And, we continued down the road.

That moment was a formidable moment for my sister and for me, as well, witnessing her utter candidness. I’ve told her the story several times. “I said that?” she asks me. “Yes, Kristen, you said that.”

The reason I believe I remember this day, and the reason I’m sitting here writing about it, is because it says something about what is important; it speaks about what should have value and significance and priority in our lives. I think that’s the question we ask a lot or, at least, need to be asking. How should I spend my time and energy?

C.S. Lewis put it as clearly as I think I’ll ever understand it in his Principle of First and Second things. He explains that things have different values—some greater than others. And, whenever we reverse the hierarchy, treating a second thing as a first thing, we not only lose the first thing, but the second thing, as well. “Values are related to each other like a chain of rings,” explains Peter Kreeft, “…the attempt to put second things first can never work.”

“If you look for truth,” said Lewis, “you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.”

Jesus said something similar, in Matthew 6:33: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” To reverse it can never work. There is an established order, and value, just as 1 is greater than 0. If we make the second things our pursuit, we won’t find those things; and, what’s worse, we won’t find His kingdom or His righteousness. God needs to be our first thing, not money or relationships or a safe neighborhood to live in. God. All else comes from Him.

In the case of my sister, she understood character had greater value than appearance, and as such, needed more attention. It’s a conclusion that’s easy to state once or twice—another thing to live. Yet, the reality of our lives is that we’re constantly making decisions regarding value, whether we realize it or not. Which, is why it’s better to realize it, lest we put a second thing first. We need to make a habit of asking, and adjusting… How do I spend my time? How do I spend my money? What do I think about? What do I care about? “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

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I read a blog post a few months back, written by a guy I have great respect for. The post was about learning to listen to God’s voice. “God is always talking,” I remember his words so clearly; words that opened my eyes to the ways God speaks to me in my life. In His word. In silence. In circumstances. In the sunset following a terrible storm.

Metaphors and story seemed to be Jesus’ chief way of communicating to people throughout the New Testament. When I think about it, I’m struck by how far heavenly knowledge needs to stoop to make sense in our minds. Yet, Jesus met us here, using language we could understand. He talked about growing seeds, parent/child relationships, and money—parallels that help us understand what God, and life in the Kingdom, is like.

For the past two years, I’ve been studying Marriage and Family therapy. I’ve heard countless lectures, read book after book, and even observed my professors providing therapy. Though, nothing teaches you quite so much as working as a therapist, which I quickly realized back in May when I started seeing clients. We were taught early on in school, that we all have blind spots in our lives and that pain has a way of blurring our vision. That’s why counseling, by a professional or mentor, is important—it’s enormously valuable to have an outside perspective on situations to increase understanding. Many times in life we find ourselves needing to trust the judgement of a parent or good friend when we fail to see harmful circumstances and decisions clearly.

It occurred to me, knee deep in therapy, that there are times when I need to stop trusting the things clients say. It’s in their best interest that I do. There are times when client’s words don’t match their behaviors, and I need to recognize when they’re not okay—even when they say they are.

He speaks, always.

I saw myself. I heard my words to Jesus, as He prepared to suffer on my behalf, telling Him I was fine; utterly convinced of it. Yet, my life hinged, at that desperate hour, upon Jesus being able to know I was not. He knew the parts of my heart that disdained Him, the parts that would rather live life my way, and He knew what would happened if He listened. That’s what kept Him on the cross. “God shows His great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8.

If Jesus knew then what was good for me, it means He knows it now. It means I can offer up carefully crafted lip service, but He won’t fall for it. He sees the inner workings of my mind and heart and knows what I really need. At my deepest level, I can rest in that. Moment by moment, I need to be grateful for that. I really, really don’t understand most of it. But, thinking of all He did to rescue me then, when I didn’t want it, reminds me He will do the same now.

He is faithful.

 

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Poetry used to really confuse me. Not that it doesn’t still confuse me at times—I think I’ve just grown in my appreciation for it, and in my tolerance to not understand. I used to be so quick in reading it and even quicker in saying I didn’t get it. One such poem was about a field where nothing happened. I remember studying it in college and wondering why both William Stafford and our class wasted time on it. Nothing happened.

This poem, startlingly so, came back to me recently, and I felt I understood a little more. Mind you, 4 years after the fact. The poem was about ordinariness. It spoke about a field where no blood was shed, no monuments were built, and nothing heroic happened. It was just an unmarked field, with grass and birds. I can’t say with certainty what brought the poem back to mind, but I speculate it happened sometime amid folding laundry, and the questions I ask about who I want to be.

The end of last month, I spent time exploring Boston with some friends. We walked the Freedom Trail, which highlighted milestones along the way, including the cemetery where Paul Revere, John Hancock and the five victims of the Boston Massacre were buried. The divide between what was above ground and what was below felt so real to me at that moment. I felt very aware that I was alive, that I still had breath in my lungs. They were once walking around up here, like us, I kept thinking. We knew a few names on the graves, those who made it into the history books, but most were unknown, with even their name fading from the stone. They lived their lives, worked jobs, paid bills, made decisions—good and bad—and hopefully loved well along the way. Many didn’t go down in the history books as great, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t.

C.S. Lewis spoke a bit on ordinariness:

 “What is more (and I can hardly find words to tell you how important I think this), it is just the people who are ready to submit to the loss of the thrill and settle down to the sober interest, who are then most likely to meet new thrills in some quite different direction… This is, I think, one little part of what Christ meant by saying that a thing will not really live unless it first dies. It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do. Let the thrill go — let it die away — go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow — and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time.”

I think of this, when I think about those faded graves, when I think about myself. So often we seek out moments of excitement and recognition—some moment of having “made it”. Something that tells us we’re worthwhile. Yet, Lewis reminds us there’s a different kind of thrill that will settle upon us when we give up our adrenaline-pumping concept of thrill, which paradoxically, is more fulfilling than any thrill we imagine. We frequently walk around with skewed perceptions of what our lives should look like, what greatness really is—and as a result, find ourselves terribly unsatisfied with the present, plagued by nostalgia for the past and yearnings for the future. The dishes need to be done and taxes need to be filed and the bathroom scrubbed. It’s not very exciting sometimes, at all. But, I think Lewis speaks of something enormously important, in dying to our concept of thrills. For as long as we keep seeking the thrills, the spotlight, the next-thing, we’ll be dissatisfied with the present. And, the present is important because that’s where we find God.

Jesus speaks about the value of small, everyday moments in Luke 16:10, when he told His disciples: “He who is faithful with little, will be faithful with much.” In fact, His whole life and ministry redefined what it means to be great. He said: “whoever desires to be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26). Which means, for all I know, those faded graves marked unwaveringly obedient people. It means that they could have lived lives of gentleness, kindness, love and joy. They could have been neighbors that brought dinner when a family was sick, or people who offered up their smiles to passers-by. They could have fed the hungry and cared for the widows. They could have been unassuming, but beautiful, just like that field.

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William Stafford

This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.
Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed – or were killed – on this ground
hollowed by the neglect of an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.

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The word “suffering” makes me flinch sometimes. It startles me, as if realizing for the first time how real it is. I don’t always like to think about it, or talk about it, because, honestly, sometimes it causes me to doubt God’s goodness. Suffice to say: I sat down to write this a few times, only to get up and do something else, feeling unwilling to go here. Here, to the places that really hurt. To the questions that surface from time to time.

With all that said, I know, and find great comfort, that our suffering is not void of meaning. And, I know we need to hear that over and over again.

The concept of suffering is all throughout the Bible. Often, hidden with a lot of other words that do not make me flinch:

“We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4

I’ve often wondered, when reading these verses, how/if a person could actually react that way to affliction. Glory in your sufferings? View troubles as an opportunity for great joy? It seems absurd to our minds.

But, I think that is where we find the problem—our minds. We look at our lives and circumstances through a darkened, scratched lens of depravity, and sometimes our perspective is limited to our pain. We become like David, who in his distress called out “God cannot see me!” (Psalm 31:22). That was David’s perception. The reality, however, is that God is bigger than our minds can conceive and His ways are not our own. While we offer up suggestions for a better way to do things and question His timeline, He has not wavered in knowing more than we do. Nor, in His ability to work beyond what we can see. David continues in Psalm 31, charting God’s faithfulness: “But you heard my prayer when I cried out to you for help.”

David’s cry is not blasphemy, or spiteful; it is honest to the human condition. I’m thankful I find it in the Psalms. I feel that too, sometimes. Our pain and our struggles do make it harder to see, as they blur our thinking, yet God’s faithfulness and goodness does not change. He hears our prayers when we cry out to Him for help. And, He may be doing things we don’t understand just yet. I realized: those other words mentioned in the above verses—perseverance, character, hope, and endurance—are much harder to observe than a quick change in circumstances. They are long and laborious and painful to have developed in you, but they are the things we should be after.

I know all suffering is different, and sometimes it’s hard telling the difference between struggles I’ve created on my own, ones that are a result of this fallen world, or even God-given, but I do know, whatever the situation: He promises to work everything for our good, and His glory. There is immense hope in that.  

 

I wish I had reacted differently to her words; I was defensive and made excuses for my behavior. Over coffee one winter morning, my sister had exposed some areas of selfishness and defensiveness in my life, and I writhed, while trying to cover my tracks. I was defensive of my defensiveness. Even now, I find it a whole lot easier to acknowledge on this end of the conversation. And, I’m not convinced I wouldn’t do it again.

There’s a term in psychology called “transference.” It was established, or discovered, by Freud and describes client overreactivity to their therapist. The idea is that clients will relate to therapists in ways they have related to authority figures in their past. In that, overreactivity can highlight areas of emotional trauma. For instance: a therapist’s demeanor could remind you of your dad, or the phrases a therapist uses could be the same your mom used to say to you. Though you’re reacting in the present, you’re really reacting to something from the past. Therapists can learn so much from these reactions that help to heal the clients of these wounds. It, too, exposes.

The connection between exposure and healing is undeniable. Tim Keller said it well of marriage, in “The Meaning of Marriage:”

“Marriage shows you a realistic, unflattering picture of who you are and then takes you by the scruff of the neck and forces you to pay attention to it. This may sound discouraging, but it is really the road to liberation… the only flaws that can enslave you are the ones that you are blind to… marriage blows the lid off, turns the lights on. Now there is hope.”

On many levels, it seems counterintuitive. Often, I react negatively to the thing I need most. I need for my sister to say difficult things to me because it keeps me in check. It removes my blinders and helps me to see areas in my life where I need to grow. She is a good sister.

There are other things in my life that expose me: anger, despair, trying circumstances, and times when I don’t get what I want. My reactions speak of the condition of my heart—they speak of how I know God. I’m more and more inclined to believe that God cares less about how it’s exposed, so much as that it’s exposed. I need for wrong thinking of God to be dismantled, for past wounds to be healed, and to take a good, honest look at my heart. It’s the best thing for us; our hearts and our minds need to be exposed to the light of day. And, though our friends and families might not always speak the whole truth, and we will have bad days, we need to be open to how God wants to speak to us through the comings and goings of our lives and let the Spirit illumine those areas.

“Till sin be bitter; Christ will not be sweet.” —Thomas Watson

I believe the great news of the gospel is that we no longer have to live in hiding. Jesus came because we were helpless and weak and flawed to our very core (Col. 1:21). He knows that more than we know that. Yet, He blew the lid off, turned the lights on and now there is hope (Col. 1:22). He is not surprised by us—His grace covers all. I believe that if I understood this to the extent that Jesus meant it, I would have shook my head when my sister spoke and told her that she was right. I wouldn’t have been afraid that it was in me. I believe Jesus is in the work of exposing us to ourselves—not so we would writhe or try to hide—rather, so we would acknowledge the depth of the problem and be healed. “We are more wicked than we ever dared believe,” said Tim Keller, “but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope.”

 

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I was an hour early for the meeting. For reasons still unknown, I had missed the time-change memo, and it wasn’t long before I was high up on a ladder, hanging decorations in the children’s ministry hallway. I was recruited the moment they found out I had some time to spare.

It was quiet upstairs, with only a few other people working, and I was helping a lady who has been very dear to me over the years. Naturally, we were chatting about life. We ended up talking about our church ministry to the Guatemala City dump; I confessed to her that sometimes I wondered if the people who lived in the dump ever felt it was easy for us to say that God loved them. Easy for you to say, with food on your table, and a roof over your head… 

Evidence is important. We rely on it for all sorts of things, most specifically, to foster understanding and find out if something is working. I’ve come to realize the same thing is true of God’s movement in our lives.

Our perception of how God’s love, or God’s blessing, manifests itself in our lives is huge. If the evidence that God loves me is a well-paying job, an attractive husband, well-behaved children, and a nice house, I’m in trouble because those things are not guaranteed and will waver. My faith will follow the ups and downs.

Pete Wilson said it well at the Collyde Summit, when he confessed that he grew up in a church where they believed that if the Lord was with you, it meant everything was going really well in your life. So, what happens when things aren’t going well? When you don’t feel well? Does God love you any less?

When I search through scripture, I’m hit with a resounding “no.” The bible is filled with journeys that no one wanted to take, as Adam Hamilton explains in “The Journey.” There is story after story of people being pushed out of their comfort zone, being asked to trust. Their lives don’t always show the evidence of blessing as we often perceive it. But, there seems to be something that happens when our resources run dry—we finally stare into the face of God and know our dependency.

The people who live in the dump are blessed in ways I am not. It is not my intent to trivialize the need for food, or the need for safe shelter, please hear me in that; I’m just willing to bet many of our friends there knew their dependency before me, and they recognize it more frequently on a daily basis. Their selfishness might be further gone than mine, their appreciation for another day stronger. Our American comfort runs the risk of giving us a dangerous illusion of control. In many ways it has crippled us. There is much more beauty in character, humility, and surrender to God, than the home we’ve been dreaming about for years.

Paul says several times in his letter to the Ephesians that our minds can hardly even comprehend what Christ is like. He talks about Christ’s riches, “which are too great to understand fully,” Christ’s wisdom, “which has so many forms,” and Christ’s love, which is “greater than anyone can know” (Ephesians 3:8, 10, 18).

We know God loves us because He sent His son to take our punishment, even when we mocked Him. We know He loves us because He promises to work all things for our good, and in His complete holiness, He has decided to show concern for us.

Pete Wilson posed the question: “Am I going to put my faith in God’s identity, and who He says He is in His word, or am I going to put my faith in His activity, or the circumstances that I see, and often misinterpret with my own human eyes. Which one?”

It’s the good fight we fight daily—to know that He is unchanging, ever-faithful, in spite of our ever-changing circumstances.

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I went on a hike this past summer up at the Presidential Mountain Range in New Hampshire. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it: clouds covered the mountain tops, and the green mountainsides were greener than green. It was thrilling.

One of my professors – who had organized the trip – later told us about a moment he had when he reached the summit. He was waiting for a friend. The hike hadn’t been easy for her, and she was close to finishing, but had no idea. The fog had made it so my professor could see her – she just couldn’t see him. He looked down on her and realized this was God’s perspective.

There are some things in my life right now I’ve been trying to understand. I’m of the belief that understanding brings healing, so processing and understanding are good things. But, I’ve come to realize that God is the only one that has the full view; He’s the only one that knows the intimate, intricate details.

Do you ever think about that? God knows you more than you know you. He knew what you were thinking as you fell asleep as a baby, He knows why certain things still make you angry and annoyed – He knows everything fully and completely.

“My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance.”
Psalm 139

This puts us in an interesting place, with limited perceptions. We interpret other people’s body language, tone of voice, and experiences through our minds, which are incapable of knowing all-things. This is the human condition: I can’t always know when someone is lying to me or why they do the things they do. We hardly even understand ourselves sometimes.

As I thought about this, I was reminded of the good news that God, in His all-knowingness, chooses to be kind towards us (Psalm 86:5). He chooses to lead us (Isaiah 58:11). It is the best news that we have a holy and perfect Father to watch over us children, who can’t seem to get it all right.

It’s good news that we don’t need to understand everything. I believe He wants to talk with us and that He wants us to learn, but there are times when we’re going to have to go to Him, with our thoughts like a spool of string all tied in a knot, and say: “I know that You know, and that is enough for me.” We’re going to have to live in the unknowing, trusting that He knows.

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
1 Peter 5:7

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Two weeks ago I was babysitting my friend’s three-year-old daughter and, admittedly, was trying hard to get her to like me. She’s been a tough one for me to win over, so I played all the board games she wanted to play, in the order she wanted to play them, and took her to the park. Things had been going well—it was a nice, Fall day and she seemed to be having fun. She even reached for my hand at one point.

We were back at the house getting lunch, when she happened to catch a glimpse of a purple cup up in the cabinet. She pointed and told me she wanted that one, so I explained to her, quite reasonably, that it was too big and I didn’t want her to spill it. Tears rushed down her face.

It was one of those moments when your mind is sorting through what feels like an extreme amount of information rather quickly. I’ve been around kids enough to know that you should’t fall for these types of things, and that it’s not good to give in, for a whole ton of disciplinary reasons. I knew what I’d be saying to her with either option I chose. But, I looked at her despairing face and didn’t feel like handing her over to her grandmother with swollen, crying eyes. I didn’t really want to fight this one out with her.

I grabbed the purple cup, still in disbelief that it warranted those tears, and poured her juice. The tears stopped as fast as they had began and she ate her lunch in peace.

The moment came back to me a few days later, as I was praying. “Thank you for not giving us the purple cup.” They were words that startled me when they came to mind and I hardly knew if I wanted to express them. Though, I recognized this was true of Him. He doesn’t fall for our fits; He’s far too invested in our good to do that. Tim Keller put it well: “Jesus has a vision of our future glory and everything He does in our lives moves us toward that goal.” Jesus’ face is set on what we can become—He can’t get that image out of His mind.

It’s the toughest form of love that I find myself wading through. I’m prone to feel like I know what’s best, having grown out of three-year-old tantrums, on to revolts that are more sophisticated. But I, we, can take heart because God is strong-willed and unshakably focused on working for our good. The kind of good that’s deep and rich. The kind we’ll spend our whole lives learning to recognize and appreciate. Too often, we’d prefer the easy way and we jump at chances to take it, but He seems to see something else. The book of Colossians comforts me here—in our hopeless state, when we didn’t want Him, when we couldn’t even recognize Goodness as it died for us, He was still acting on our behalf (1:21-22). “How utterly grateful we should be,” said A.W. Tozer, “that when we sinned and fell away from grace in the beginning, God did not act like us. Our eternal hope lies in the fact that at that tragic hour, God acted like Himself.”

I’d really like His perspective, I think. If only for a moment. That of a parent, or babysitter, making the harder, costly decisions because they have a vision for the greater good. I wish you could understand right now, He must say under His breath, willing to risk us thinking of Him as the bad guy because He knows, painfully well, He’s not.