For the last year and a half, I had the privilege of helping a really great mom raise her kids. She entrusted me with her three most valuable possessions for about 20 hours every week, and truthfully, they blessed me way more than I think I ever could have blessed them.
There were a lot of things I dreamed about doing once I graduated college, but being a nanny was not one of them. It’s not exactly the most glamorous job. Sometimes I used to pretend I was like Jesse from the Disney channel to feel a little cooler about it. It was refining, it was exhausting, and I learned so much about myself and about God during that season.
Last Friday, I spent my last day with the Haynes kids. I hugged them all goodbye in the YMCA parking lot, and as soon as I turned around to walk to my car, I lost it. I still haven’t gotten the image of that precious little 8 year old boy with tears in his eyes out of my head.
All weekend I thought a lot about all the things God did in me during that year and a half. Because of those three kids, I have known a kind of love I didn’t know before, and I realized in processing it all these last few days that there are some major things I learned about God’s heart for me because of them.
1. My disobedience is offensive to Him.
There’s a difference between babysitting on a weekend and nannying four to five days a week, literally helping someone raise their kids. The difference is that you have to actually parent them.
I figured out pretty quickly (and called my mom to repent for my disobedience growing up) that it is offensive when I’ve asked them to do something, and I know they hear me, and they don’t do it. I was never mad at them or unforgiving of them, but the whole time I was learning to check my own heart every time and ask God, “Are there places in my life I’m doing this to you?”
It was convicting. The answer was often, “Yes.”
1a. Even after I’ve offended Him, He still thinks I’m awesome.
One of my favorite things about disciplining the kids was the conversation we would have about whatever their offense was, and how it always ended with a hug and a, “I’m not mad at you. I love you.” When I’m slow to obey God’s guidance and leadership in my life, we have a conversation about it and He corrects me. But it always ends with me knowing His affection for me.
2. He loves that I need His help.
There was this one day that one of the boys had taken his brand new bike for a ride around the neighborhood with friends. He was late in coming home so I walked down the street to where I knew he was, only to find him standing there, covered in mud, crying hysterically.
His wheels were so coated in mud they wouldn’t even turn. To a 9 year old, this is truly the end of the world. I was trying so hard to hold back laughter. I had to explain to him that this isn’t a big deal, we can fix it, and he wasn’t in trouble. (He was still crying, saying he didn’t mean to be late and he didn’t mean to ruin his new bike.)
Well, since the wheels weren’t going anywhere covered in all that mud, I had to throw his bike over my shoulder and carry it home as we walked back together. And as he wept, I was still laughing, trying to calm him down and tell him it was going to be OK.
I think God and I have similar moments. Something happens that I didn’t see coming, and I feel like I should have been able to avoid it, so He comes walking over to meet me and I’m just weeping and in panic mode. I think in those moments He laughs at my silliness and says, “Sara, it’s going to be fine. You need my help, and I love that about you. This draws us closer to one another.”
3. It blesses His heart like crazy when I take Him at His word.
I will never forget this conversation I had with one of the kids last summer at Hawaiian Falls (a water park here in Waco). The boys wanted to go on this big, fast slide, and their sister was a little bit scared. She wanted to do it, but she stood there at the bottom, unsure of whether or not to actually climb all those stairs and come down the slide.
OK, so part of me only wanted to talk her into it so I didn’t have to sit at the kiddie pool all day, but this was a really special conversation.
I said, “Hey, Jesus lives in your heart, right?” She nodded yes. “Did you know that Jesus and fear can’t live in the same place? So you can just tell that fear, ‘No,’ and Jesus will carry you through whatever you’re scared of. It’s pretty easy, and it’s really fun!”
That was it! She believed me. We rode that slide 10 times that day. She knew I was telling the truth and she didn’t question it. That conversation has marked my relationship with Jesus ever since. Every time I’m scared of something, I just think, “Wait, Jesus and fear can’t live in the same place. You’re right, God. Let’s do this.”
4. He knows all the details of my life, so I don’t have to concern myself with them.
As I was getting ready to hand my job over to the new nanny, I was going through all the details I needed to train her on. Noland was asking me what all I needed to teach her, and as I explained it all to him he stopped me and said, “Are you gonna be ok? You’ve been loving those kids in the tiniest details of their lives for a long time.”
In my last few days, I couldn’t stop thinking about that. He was right. I knew everything about them. I knew when they got up and when they went to bed, how and when they got to and from school, what they wanted for lunch every day, when and where all their practices and activities were. I knew their favorite colors and favorite games, their best friends and their favorite snacks.
And because they knew I was taking care of all those things, they never questioned it. This is the way God wants me to be with Him! He knows when I sit and when I rise. He discerns my going out and my lying down; He is familiar with all my ways. (Psalm 139)
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared in this new season of my life. I’m in a new job that I don’t really feel comfortable in. I feel way under-qualified for the position I’ve been given. I get stressed about figuring out the details of my life on my own.
And I keep going back to this thought that truthfully, I’m just supposed to act like those kids did with me. Allowing Him to care for me without asking questions or doing the planning myself. Believing Him when He speaks and knowing that His presence will always drive out my fear. Being obedient to His call and knowing I need His help in every little area of my life.