Toddlerhood: A Lesson in Grace

Design by Jeslyn Lanier

Design by Jeslyn Lanier

Lately my two year old has been in fine form. There have been instances of her saying the word “no” in a very high volume, spitting in our faces when she gets in trouble, disobeying and being sneaky about it, and whining constantly. There are many days when this sleep-deprived mom of a two-year old and a newborn wants to pull her hair out because the “terrible twos” get a little too far under her skin. I know that she is acting exactly as should be expected in her developmental stage and sinful nature, but it still frustrates me to no end. I end up having to separate myself from her sometimes just to maintain a small sense of sanity. Can I get a witness? Any toddler moms out there know what I am saying? 

The more I have been thinking about my little girl and her ever-increasing bad behavior, the more I have understood the love and grace of Jesus in a refreshing way. There are so many times I act just like a toddler in my relationship with Jesus, and He continues to love, show grace, and discipline appropriately to teach me. I am so thankful he never separates Himself from me in those moments like I feel I need to do with my toddler sometimes. 

Here are some things we can work on to grow in maturity so that we don’t keep acting like toddlers in the faith. 

Defiance and Disobedience  

Sometimes I tell my little girl to do something, and she screams “No!” in my face and runs as fast as she can away from me. Talk about something that gets my blood boiling, whew! She is learning to exert her independence in this stage of life, but she does not know how to appropriately rein that in. It comes out in defiance, and it is something that does not go ignored in our home. There are consequences because she has to learn that it is not acceptable. Wouldn’t we expect some sort of discipline from God when we disobey Him, too? I read something in Scripture and I disobey, intentionally and unintentionally. I believe God puts a calling on my life to do something, and I do not do it. God wants me to reach out to a friend and ask forgiveness or forgive them, and I refuse. The list goes on and on. As a mom, I cannot ignore disobedience because I love my kids, and as my Father God cannot either. He “disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son He receives” (Hebrews 12:6). Without discipline there is no teaching us how to live, and there is no growth. 

Complaining and Whining 

My little girl can whine right up there with the best of them, ha! She whines when she does not get her way or when she is tired or hungry or upset. She begs for candy, and I say no (most of the time) because I know it is bad for her. She is unaware of how to deal with her emotions appropriately yet, so it generally comes out in whining. Most of the time I just ignore it, but sometimes I ask her to use her words to explain what is wrong. I can’t even count the amount of times I have whined to Jesus about something in my life that did not go my way or when I am tired or hungry. Though Jesus can handle our emotions better than we can, it is never good to keep whining to Him all the time. It is okay to be honest with God about how we feel, but we need to remember that God is in control, no matter if life looks how we want or not. He knows what is best for us, and we can trust that without whining. 

Love and Forgiveness

Though I pray everyday that God grows me up in these areas of immaturity, I see things in my toddler that I wish were more a part of my life. She is one of the most compassionate people I know. She loves to be loved and feel affection. She always wants to be with me, to be held by me, to play with me, to understand me. When she is disciplined, she immediately comes up many times and says she is sorry and kisses my cheek. She forgives me so easily when I lose my temper. There are so many moments when her sinful nature rears its head, but there are also many moments when the image of God comes out in her in beautiful ways. 

Being a mother to a toddler has taught me that no matter what my kid does, I will always love her. I will always discipline the wrongs because it is important for her to learn right from wrong, but that never changes how I love her. Jesus is the same with us. No matter how many times we screw up and act like a toddler, He is always there with arms wide open, ready to give grace and loving discipline. It has also taught me that I need to realize my need for Jesus; I need to want to be with Him, to hold Him, to know Him. I need to be quick to repent and run into His arms. I need to be quick to forgive those who have hurt me. I am thankful for my sweet toddler in her good and bad moments because they help me become more like Christ in motherhood and in life, and in turn teach her what that looks like as well.