Yesterday was grocery day.

I love grocery day.

My husband has tried more than once to convince me to use grocery pickup, but now that I’m not working, I just can’t bring myself to do it.

I look forward to Mondays. I’ve made friends with the people at the butcher counter, and the old lady who gives out samples always smiles and talks to my nine-month-old daughter, Zoe, when we stop by. I look forward to strolling the aisles with Zoe smiling in my grocery basket as I describe everything around us.

“This is a zucchini, Zoe. See the green skin? I’ll roast it for dinner tonight, but only you and I will eat it. You’re dad doesn’t touch vegetables unless I cut them up and throw them in his fried rice. The strawberries don’t look good today, so we’re going to pass. One more stop before we go home! Can’t forget the Dr. Pepper.”

You get the gist.

Yesterday was a hard day for Zoe. She is teething. She was inconsolable during the car ride to the store. I pulled over to make her a bottle, but all she did was chew on the nipple. I could tell she was in a lot of pain, and it hurt my heart. We had to cut our grocery trip short because she was visibly uncomfortable. When we got home, I pulled a screaming child out of her car seat, and grabbed as many grocery bags as I could fit into my hand. As I closed the trunk, I heard a crash! I looked down, and saw a puddle of red tomato sauce in my driveway, with tiny shards of glass shattered everywhere.

I took a deep breath.

I set my groceries down in the driveway, and dropped Zoe in the grass nearby. I figured I could get the majority of the glass picked up now, then I would figure out a way to get the rest of it after Zoe went down for her nap. I tossed most of it in the dumpster when I looked up and saw my sweet daughter chewing on a stick from the yard. She had the biggest smile on her dirt-covered face—she had finally figured out a way to soothe her pain by herself.

I smiled to myself and grabbed a teething biscuit out of the car. I’m all for letting my kid explore, but I can only let her eat sticks for so long.

It’s good fiber, I guess.

I unwrapped the teething biscuit and offered it to her. She kept smiling as she turned away. She was content with her stick. I took another deep breath, and removed the stick from her mouth.

She screamed some sort of banshee scream that I had never heard before. She. Was. Angry.

She was so angry, she failed to notice the teething cookie I was frantically trying to give to her. Finally, as she was taking a deep breath to let out another wail, I shoved it in her mouth. Her eyes widened as she bit down. She smiled again. Her eyes were now red and her cheeks were stained, but she was content. This time, with something that was meant for a nine-month-old to chew on. “I love you,” I smiled, “and I’m not going to let you eat sticks.”

I felt so connected to Zoe in that moment. How often have I happily chewed on my own stick? How often has God come along and removed it in anticipation of something better? How often have I screamed and yelled, shouting angrily at God, saying, “Why did you take the one thing I had away from me?” How often has God had to wave a teething biscuit in my face, saying, “If you would just calm down, you would see I have something better in store for you.” How many times do I need to be reminded to be still and wait for the glory of God to reveal itself? How many times has God looked me lovingly in the eyes and said, “I love you, and I’m not going to let you eat sticks.”

In the last few years, I have lost so many things.

My health.

My independence and freedom.

My financial security.

My physical beauty.

My sanity.

But really. It hasn’t been an easy couple of years. Looking back, I see so many times God was begging me to give him my sticks. I see God taking my loneliness and giving me new friendships that encourage and sustain me. I see God taking my pride and making me rely on my husband for help, thus strengthening our new marriage in its own unique and beautiful way. I see God taking my life plan, that—while good in its own right—was not what was meant to be.

Friends, give God your sticks.

See what gifts he gives you in return.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Sarah E.B. Christison 

Just a 25 year-old adoptive mother of two. I am a licensed social worker who is passionate about advocating for victims of abuse and family violence.  I believe in raw, honest writing, good food, and strong coffee.