My son, Obi, is a swirling ball of emotions. Turns out, two and three year old’s go through emotional and physiological transitions similar to those of a 10-14 year old, hormones and all. We left both kids with grandma and then great-grandma so we could go try to figure out how to enjoy a big city without tethers yesterday (read about that here). When we got to Jessey’s grandma’s house to pick up the kids, Obi was in the middle of receiving some vanilla wafers from great-grandma. When he saw us, he started screaming and crying and throwing wafers like ninja-stars across the kitchen. Contrast this with my daughter, Guinevere, now 17 months old, who ran smiling to my wife and gave her a hug.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. Obi just has a hard time processing strong emotions and surprises. I believe he was happy to see us, but we surprised him in the middle of something important (getting a snack), and he didn’t know how to handle the surprise other than, well, to act his age. I came home once last week when he was waiting for the babysitter to arrive. When he saw it was me that came in the front door, he started crying and ran away. I’m fairly confident that he doesn’t like the babysitter more than me, but I surprised him.
He gets this from me. I absolutely hate surprises, especially public ones. I think I’m too practical, or my emotions are just a lot slower on the uptake than most people’s. This year, on my birthday, my wife planned a surprise birthday party for me (apparently after being married over 9 years at the time she hadn’t yet caught on that I hate surprises). I told her earlier that day that I really hate surprises, even if they are good ones. That night, she came outside to greet me when I got home from work. She told me there were people in the basement that are here for my birthday. I’m really glad she did that, because it showed that she loves me, and it gave me enough time to get my game face on and try to react positively towards my friends who also love me. I failed, but at least I wasn’t surprised.
I think Guinevere is on to something. When she is surprised by something good, the arrival of her parents, she runs into that emotion, embraces it, and drinks in the moment. I can’t do that.
I believe that the return of Jesus will be surprising, unexpected, and outside of the bounds of normal human experience. I hope when surprised by this, I don’t throw a tantrum about the timing or what I was working on that got so rudely interrupted by the Savior, or shut down completely and miss out on embracing the moment and drinking it all in. I’m just not sure how to get there.