God is Amused

Most nights, I go to each boy’s bedside and tell them goodnight. I make a slight sign of the cross on their forehead, bless them, say a short prayer for love and rest, tussle their hair and kiss them on the cheek. There are nights when I do this with fatherly joy. There are also nights when, because they are 10 and 11 and have mastered the children’s equivalent of digging their bony elbow into my rawest nerve, I do this in faith, trusting the love I know is there.

One might hope that one’s sons, over the many years enacting this ritual, would sense a little of the gravity and maybe even begin to cherish these moments. I’m not asking my two sons to pit themselves against one another, like Esau and Jacob, scheming or pleading for my better blessing. I’d simply like them to put down Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix or my collector’s edition of Calvin and Hobbes which they took without asking and actually notice that their father loves them, blast it.

Several weeks ago, I was in the room of my youngest. Sign of the cross, prayer, kiss on the cheek. “Good night, bud,” I said, hand on his head. Seth looked up, as if my voiced pulled him out of a fascinating dream sequence. Seth began to chuckle. “What?” I asked.

“Uhmmm…” Seth’s smile broke wide, more laughter. “I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Of course, this is where I jerked my hand away, leveled my most shaming look and slowly backed out of his room in disgust. Such a disappointment, this distracted, childish son of mine.

Ridiculous. I actually chuckled too, gave Seth another pat on the head. I probably asked him what girl was tiptoeing through his mind. I told Seth I loved him and left him to his sweet fantasies until the next night when we’d cue the whole spiel again. Obviously there was nothing heroic here, just how most any dad would respond to his goofball son being a goofball son.

Yet some of us think God a worse father than this. Somehow, many of us have learned to live in shame (or terror) of the ways we believe we disappoint the One who loves us. We live on the razor edge, vigilant over our every action, every motive, every belief. We’re so fearful that we’ll forget to pay attention, and heaven knows we can’t let that happen.

I believe God would love to chuckle with us in these moments. Keeping a close watch, getting things correct – these are not the center. Love is the center. “But still,” says Hafiz, “God is delighted and amused you once tried to be a saint.”

14 Replies to “God is Amused”

  1. The post about your boys had a phrase about a chuckle from God. For what it is worth, and humanizing God, I am thinking God would like a lot more chuckles from his people. We were created for God to have Company, yet we are whiners are we are begging not celebrating. Just the thought that came into my head.

  2. I have little difficulty believing God loves me deeply, but I struggle with the dread and fear that I disappoint him constantly. Thank you for your words…very encouraging.

    1. thankfully, God does not peddle in dread or fear. when the Love is true, disappointment is not the concern. Be free.

  3. I went outside after reading this and found my boys leaping off of the picnic table in a wildly successful attempt at pulling all of the clothes off the clothes line. I chose to be amused. In honesty, though, I have perfected and employed that shaming look on occasion. Every time I write out a conversation with God, I find God to be so much more playful, so much less serious than I am and this, always, is an invitation. I love that line from Hafiz. Thanks, Winn.

  4. I love the way you set me on a fresh pondering track for the day – I’m coining a word – though I’m sure it’s occurred to most – ‘winnsome’. This made my day!

  5. thank you so much. I never could please my parents even though I tried so hard to be a “good girl”. It’s been a slow process to walk through the healing of those wounds. I have to continually remind myself that God is not the parent whose love is conditional on my behavior, and that as CS Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”

words have a way of making friends. drop a few here.