By LIBBO CROSSWHITE
Possums, MSU baseball, and living as children of God’s delight
In what seems to be both a great challenge and a significant gift, parenting allows us to see many different emotions personified and often magnified as our little humans forge their way through this world. I will never forget certain facial expressions from both of my children, whether in moments of intense fear or immense joy.
Our family’s favorite story is the time that Mary Thomas accidentally petted a possum. Yep, one of those terrifying creatures that I have always heard are “totally harmless” but believe it with zero percent of my soul.
It was a few weeks after we’d gotten our first cat, Kiki, and Clay was on a hunting trip (so yes, it was totally his fault that this happened). Mary goes outside to say goodnight to Kiki, and as she reaches down to pet the shadowed semblance of a cat, she quickly realizes “she didn’t pet Kiki,” as we laughingly quote now.
Screams, tears, tantrums and immense handwashing ensued. I didn’t sleep a wink, and Mary Thomas was pasted to me for the entire night, shaking and muttering the now famous phrase as I whispered, “It’s OK, you’re safe with me” — words I desperately hope she hears God say to her, too. What is now one of our go-to dinner party stories was a moment of great fear for her, and a reminder to all of us that we can mistakenly “pet a possum” at any moment of our lives (I don’t know, seems like there is a moral somewhere in there).
While I recognize that 1) the story could have ended way less humorously, with some sort of mauling of my child, and 2) Mary’s exaggerated fear is nothing compared to the trauma many of us have experienced, I think it points to the great responsibility that God has entrusted to parents. We are called to be a safe place for our kids in times of trouble. A place of support in uncertainty, but also a place of genuine celebration during the most joyous occasions of their lives.
Interestingly, as Mississippi State fans, our kids are learning that you can experience a range of every type of emotion in one sitting. I can’t help but laugh as I write this, because by the time this is published, our MSU baseball team’s destiny will already be revealed. I will save myself some heartache by not making any predictions in print.
Regardless of wins or losses, my son is personifying the phrase “living the dream” as he spends time with his dad watching his favorite Bulldogs play in Omaha at the College World Series. Omaha is heaven on earth for Russell’s 5-year-old self, and the entire time he’s been there, I keep praying that as he is running the bases at the Rosenblatt Wiffle Ball stadium and screaming for his favorite team with 40,000 others, he hears the whisper, “This joy is because I delight in you. This is joy because I created it, and I created you, too.”
Psalm 18:17-19 is David’s declaration of who God was for him and what He continued to do for him: “He rescued me from my powerful enemy. … the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.”
The truth that I think we (I) often miss is that God feels as strongly about each of us as we feel about our own children. Infinitely stronger, in fact. As we take delight in the joys of our children and carry the weight of their fears, whether of possums or failure or painfully hard situations — how much more does God do that for us?
He delights in us, not because we’ve somehow earned it, but because He created us. In the same way that I don’t have conditions on whether my children have my love and support, God wants to remind us of the unshakable truth that 1 John 3:1 tells us: “We are called children of God, and so we are.”
We are. That’s it. No other conditions — just delight in the truth that because God has always been enough, we can stop trying to earn something we can never earn. It’s just life change in the form of being called a child of God by His grace. For His glory. I truly delight in the gift that my children are to me, and that’s only because He delighted in me first.
Libbo Haskins Crosswhite and her husband, Clay, live in Madison and attend Pinelake. They have one daughter, Mary Thomas, who is 7 years old, and a son, Russell, who is 5 years old. She is the high school guidance counselor at Madison- Ridgeland Academy and can be emailed at email@example.com.