It had been an incredibly long day. We first went to my grandson’s soccer game, a wonderful reminder that I haven’t changed in my sideline demeanor from the days my six children were playing the game. That in and of itself was disheartening. Then my daughter’s family, with me in tow, decided to go to the Magic Kingdom. The happiest place on earth. On a beautiful Saturday afternoon. With every other pass holder in central Florida.
Our four grandchildren were involved in this expedition. Three of the four–Ethan, Sydney and Teagan–were quite excited about the Magic Kingdom. It was their first time to go to that park, and the anticipation covered a multitude of small inconveniences. Such as insufficient snacks, which lacked in imagination, and being unable to locate water fountains when needed. But the three older ones enjoyed the rides, especially Buzz Lightyear, where they could blast the evil dude Zurg to kingdom come in a ride that was tantamount to being a part of a video game. High scores and the opportunity to shoot things always seems to please these three.
Not so with two-year-old Isley. She hasn’t been sleeping, so she was tired. She was thirsty. She was hungry. This was the perfect storm of unhappiness. To top it off, she was too short for the height requirements on some rides, so I took her to Fantasyland to ride on the carousel.
Carousels are mini-escapes from the tedium of walking. And as an adult, they can seem quite boring to me. Nothing unexpected. Just around and around. They don’t compare to roller coasters with their dramatic turns and drops and swishing around bends. They just go in a circle in a very calming up and down motion, much like being rocked to sleep with fifty of your closest friends all going up and down with you. Tame. But for Isley, who was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, this was pure bliss. She sat on this noble war horse in my lap, and I could feel the frustration flow from her little body. She relaxed, and then she smiled. And then she laughed. And then she wouldn’t get off the horse. By this time the rest of the family had found us, and she got to go again with her mother and big sister. And I had the privilege of watching sheer delight on her face. And it made me smile.
Having experienced her throughout the day, I knew she wasn’t doing very well. I get that. I have days where nothing seems to be going right, where everything I try to do feels wrong, and if I were at all honest with myself, I’d let myself whine and cry like Isley. But that’s not adult, and definitely not appropriate, so I quietly stress or calmly bite someone’s head off for no good reason or eat myself into a sugar funk with chocolate. None of which helps.
And yet God delights in me. The joy He experiences in me, as His child, is pure and complete, and I can’t ruin it or make it stop. It’s how He sees me. With great delight. The embrace of His arms around me is what the carousel did for Isley–it makes all the miserable, uncomfortable circumstances of my life fade away in light of being known and loved by the One who created me. His delight isn’t dependent on what I do or how I’m feeling at any given moment. He delights in me because He chose me to be His. With all my messiness and self-centeredness. “He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.” Psalm 18:19. He has rescued me because He delights in me. And that never changes. No surprises. Just like the carousel.
I believe I like carousels more than I realized.