When she reached my legs, she was a mess of hot, defeated tears. Bumbling and mumbling, her sobs drowned out the specifics of her angst. I had no clue what was wrong, but I was confident that something was not right. With her head buried at my knees, her little body heave-ho’d with emotion.
Grabbing her from below and bringing her to my face, I wiped her tears and simply asked, “What’s wrong, girl?”
Attempting to gather some air and compose her words, she breathed out, “Mommy, I want to win all the races,” and then she burst into another round of tears.
Holding her for a few more minutes and arranging her matted silk into its normal places on her head, her body stilled and her crying ceased. Again, I ventured into another round of questioning.
“Sweet girl, what happened?”
“Caden and I are playing airplane races, and he has the longest legs, and I don’t always win.” Her words were a tad huffy and her tone a lot frustrated.
“Ahhh. I see. It’s hard to lose, isn’t it?”
Nodding her head but refusing to affirm my answer with words, I could tell that she understood my empathic response.
“But I want to win ALLLLLL the races, Mommy. I don’t want to lose. I want to be the best!”
I shook my head in complete understanding and simply said, “I get it, girl. Mama gets it.”
As I held her on my lap, my heart retraced its steps to the ball field where we had sat earlier in the weekend.
Wrought with frustration and ticked about our son’s current playing position, I had been mad too. For nine, straight games, he had been placed in the outfield. Moved from the action and his usual position at 2nd base, our son was occupying the grass and mama-bear wasn’t thrilled. In fact, I was straight-up annoyed. Since April, he had spent a majority of the game in the diamond of dirt and this unexplained change was hard for all of us.
Why wasn’t he playing where the action was?
Why was someone else getting the spotlight?
Why wasn’t he where he always was?
Why weren’t they rotating?
And though I wasn’t able to admit it in the moment, the Spirit had stirred my haughty heart after I left that field in a huff of my own. And as I sat in that Sunday pew (less than 24 hours later), my mind was finally able to own what my pride wouldn’t acknowledge when I had been sitting in that Saturday lawn chair
I, too, had wanted ALL the best.
I, too, had hated SECOND best.
With my pencil in hand, I scribbled-confessed my sin on the pages of unlined white.
Lord, I confess that I was comparing while I was on that ball field. And while I was comparing, I was also tearing others down. Lord, I confess that I was coveting the position of other players. I confess that I was jealous and wanted what I perceived to be mine/his. Lord, I confess that I was angry when I didn’t get what I wanted or what I thought he deserved. Lord, I confess that my pride was idolizing that position and that my heart was angry in the face of what I perceived to be injustice. Lord, forgive me for being angry when I didn’t get the best.
I know it’s not pretty and I know it’s not the perfect image that we want to proliferate on the pages and walls of our social media platforms, but it was true.
Mama doesn’t like the backseat.
And truth be told, maybe you don’t either.
Because the truth is, our hearts don’t like the small positions and the tiny spots. Nope. Our hearts like the big spaces and the lofty places and when we don’t get them, our hearts can throw a tantrum that can look a whole lot like a little girl in tears, or an angry mama on a lawn chair, or vying brothers named James and John and their 10 cronies.
James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came up to him. “Teacher, we have something we want you to do for us. “What is it? I’ll see what I can do.” “Arrange it,” they said, “so that we will be awarded the highest places of honor in your glory—one of us at your right, the other at your left.”
When the other ten heard of this conversation, they lost their tempers with James and John. Jesus got them together to settle things down. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.” Mark 10: 35-37, 41-45
As I finished writing out that Sunday, sin-confession in the margins of my journal, I drew an arrow and wrote at the bottom, “Oh, how unlike Jesus, Jessica is!”
In the face of injustice, Jesus sacrificed.
In the face of injustice, Jesus served.
In the face of injustice, Jesus set down.
In the face of injustice, Jesus SAVED.
So unlike…so very, very UNLIKE Jessica.
In fact, Jesus sacrificed, served, set down, and saved the countless other “Jessica’s” that would vie for placement, jockey for position, and become undone by anything other than the very best and the absolute first.
Jesus died for ALL the “Jessica’s” who want ALL the best.
As I held my little girl tightly in my arms, my mama heart felt deeply for the little girl who sat struggling in my lap. And so I did the same thing for her on Monday that I did for me on Sunday, I prayed for the Spirit to humble her heart; I prayed that He would conform her spirit into His image; I prayed that He would help her battle her pride and resist her need for position; and then I bear-hugged her little body.
Oh, Lord…turn our hearts of pride into hearts of praise and turn our eyes from our earthly positions and toward your heavenly presence.