I Want a Cookieeeeeeee
The request from my grandson transformed into a wail. Not to be outdone his younger sister followed in syncopated distress. Distress the most for whom? The wailer or the wailee?
I am not sure exactly for whom cookies are necessity. And placing them on the arm rest where both children could see them was not wise. Not wise at all. And so the ensuing wailing. How could I be angry at my grandchildren when I, too, would like a cookie? Still I wanted the duet to cease.
I don’t blame my grandson. I blame the parent (I will not say which one). We had loaded up the SUV with our things for a weekend church family camp, secured the grandchildren in their car seats, and headed out. Only to be waylaid by a last minute stop at Wal-Mart for necessities.
I pride myself in being a creative grandfather so I said, “Don’t worry about the cookies, Grandpa will buy you a treat.” I’d already planned to stop for ice cream on the way. This failed to quell the wail, which instead it intensified. “I want a cookieeeee….”
Fortunately the fast food restaurant was just down the street. The chorus from the back seat silenced as we ordered hot fudge sundaes for the grandchildren. The silence descended as they devoured the treat. I enjoyed a cone. For the remainder of the trip not another word about cookies.
After a stop at a rest area we settled back for the balance of the trip.
“You’re the best grandpa ever!”
Ah, the joys of grandparenting.
And then I thought about delayed gratification. After my grandchildren saw those cookies, all they wanted was a cookie. The possibility of something better if they waited was unfathomable. The cookies were there to see. What was a treat? How quickly that changed when they discovered what the treat was.
My grandchildren aren’t the only ones who struggle with delayed gratification. I, also, want things now. That’s what makes a credit card dangerous for me. I don’t have to count the cost ahead of time when I put the purchase on plastic. That’s a weak area for me, one on which I am working.
In my spiritual life I see that so much is about delaying my gratification. When I engage in spiritual practices – worship, prayer, Bible study, meditation, silence, solitude, retreat – the benefit I receive doesn’t come immediately, nor do I see results every time. The benefits enter my inner self as food enters my cells – by slow digestion and in small amounts. Then over time I feel the cumulative impact.
Recently I spent almost a month meditating on a passage from Colossians. Day by day, little by little, God opened my heart to examine His love for me and reinforced my desire to be like Him. By the conclusion of that time I released a thirty year-old resentment.
Had I said after day one, or seven, or fifteen, “This meditation isn’t doing anything for me,” I would have lost out on what God wanted for me.
And so, when I recall the wailing incident that day – when I want whatever “cookie” it may be – I’ll remind myself. “It’s not about the cookie; I’ll wait for God’s treat.”