“She just wants to be a bigger baby.”
We say it a lot these days. My daughter wistfully watches me make dinner in the kitchen from her spot in the living room, and I can almost see her plotting a route to me. I’ll stand up, then walk around the corner and stand there with Mom, she’s thinking. But she’s only seven months old, so it doesn’t happen. She tries to pull herself upright with one hand, only to lose her balance and spin herself to a sudden fall back to the floor. Then she cries and cries, perhaps wishing for the words to tell us what’s wrong, how far her strength fell short of her desires. I know we wish for them, those magic words.
Even more, though, I want the words to make her understand that she’s fine, just now, the way she is. That we’re over the moon about her new comfort with sitting upright, laughing at us and repeating B sounds over and over. Walking and talking will come; just wait. You have some growing still to do.
We live in a world of goals by many names. There are the tongue-in-cheek #goals of social media, the five-year plans of corporate mobility, the Disney movie dreams we’re supposed to fight for at all costs. And they’re all good, these goals, as anyone who’s ever worked with hopeful teenagers can attest. Goals are motivating and pristine, places we’d like to go and, at their best, plans to get there.
But my daughter’s woes remind me of another kind of goal, a kind that I’ll call a “baby goal.” We don’t talk about babies having goals–though I’m beginning to think that they do–because it’s too silly. Why would they resolve to do something that will happen naturally, if they’re only patient enough to wait, strong enough to grow? Baby goals are the goals that are more or less out of our hands, requiring time or the input of others or, quite plainly, the intervention of God, to come to fruition.
How often, though, do I get frustrated by my own baby goals? We’re still fundraising for our return to Germany, now just a week away. We’ll go, still hoping for the rest of the support that will shore up our finances and encourage us in ministry in Kandern. We’ve written letters, hosted events, and pursued leads all over the country and the world. We’ve had a marvelous team of friends, family and churches praying for us from the beginning. We’ve worked as hard as we can towards the goal, but I forget that in part it’s a baby goal. Because our ministry at BFA, our finances, and the dozens of other ours I could string together now, aren’t really ours at all. And the timing and sources of our support, which we pray and stress over, aren’t really ours either.
Of course, we’re not without responsibility, even for baby goals like these. Luci will never learn to walk if she lies on her back and giggles at the ceiling fan all day; she has to practice, as well as she can, and risk a few falls. We have to show up, too, by communicating our needs clearly and effectively. In the end, though, we’re waiting. Waiting on God to provide what we need for our daily life and ministry in Germany. Waiting on others to come alongside us in that ministry. And in the waiting, we’re growing, drawing closer to Christ and holding this calling with open hands.