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Me do it!

The Life Less Traveled

November 10, 2010
For a 2-year-old, my daughter, Kate, has an amazing command of the Queen's English. Some of her favorite phrases include:

I want cheese (take my picture).

I stinky (change my diaper).

Dress (put some clothes on me, dummy).

As you can see, most of the words she uses are commands. I think she's convinced I'm her butler. Her favorite phrase by far, though, the phrase that she repeats at least 20 times a day, is the ever-popular "Me do it."

"Here, Kate, let me pour you some milk."

"Me do it!"

"Hold still, honey. I need to put your socks on you."

"Me do it!"

"Where are you going with my car keys?"

"Me do it!"

For Kate, every day is Independence Day, and every task takes 10 times longer than it should because she insists on trying to do it herself. No matter how hard she tries, eventually the milk gets spilled, her socks end up on her hands and, as for the car keys, I haven't actually let her try that one yet. We'll just assume it would not go well.

If I dare try to help her with anything, she gets really angry. Often, she'll take whatever she's working on to another part of the room, so I can't interfere. Finally, though, she reaches a point of exasperation and says the words I've been waiting to hear: "Daddy, help."

"Honey," I say, "that's what Daddy's been trying to do all along."

I wish I could say Kate has learned her stubborn independence from her mom. So, I will. She definitely learned it from her mother. But I suppose if I'm honest, her dad may have had something to do with it, too.

No matter how many years I've been friends with God, my first reaction to the problems of my life is still, "Me do it!" Even when the task is obviously beyond me, I have this illusion that I can handle any challenge that comes my way.

I have a major financial decision. Me do it!

I have to deal with conflict at work. Me do it!

I have a persistent sin I can't seem to shake. Me do it!

A 2-year-old saying "Me do it" is cute. A 38-year-old saying it to God is delusional. I mean, c'mon, He's the God of the universe. He has limitless power, limitless resources and limitless goodwill to help His people.

Throughout my life, I've struggled with overeating. For me, it's not just a health issue but a heart issue. When I'm at my worst, I use food to deal with stress and emotions. That's the kind of socially-acceptable thing ministers do since they don't drink or smoke. So, a couple of years ago, I noticed this had gotten worse and I tried to buckle down and change my eating habits. I found I just couldn't. I was stuck. In fact, the harder I tried, the worse I seemed to do.

Once again, "me do it" was a total flop. It was only when I became totally frustrated with myself that I gave up the fight and asked for God's help, really asked for His help to the point where I was willing to do whatever He said to make the changes I needed to make.

Within weeks, my attitude toward food had totally reversed. For God, this was a no-brainer. For me, it was impossible.

Like Kate, when my Father tries to help me, I often withdraw so He can't interfere. This always ends in frustration. It's only after I reach the end of myself that I finally say the words He's been waiting to hear: "Daddy, help."

"Jason," He says, "that's what Daddy's been trying to do all along."

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more from Byerly, visit www.jasonbyerly.blogspot.com.

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