My daughter chatters and slurps her yogurt and honey at the breakfast table while I feed rice cereal to my son in his highchair. She narrates her favorite parts of the new Disney movie we watched last weekend, Raya and the Last Dragon, and raises her voice and spoon for dramatic effect. I’m half listening, half sipping on my lukewarm cup of coffee, when one of her declarations catches me off guard, “Sisu the dragon died on the cross.”
“No,” the word shoots out of my mouth before I can think. Her spoon dripping with yogurt pauses halfway to her mouth and her eyes grow wide as she realizes she has my full attention now.
Don’t overact, I chide myself, she’s just babbling and mixing up stories in her head.
“No,” I say, my tone more gentle this time, “Jesus died on the cross.” My hand shakes as I continue to feed my son, but my voice steadies. “He’s the only one who could die for your sins because he’s the only one who obeyed God perfectly.”
Her eyebrows furrow as she contemplates my words. She takes two more bites of yogurt before her face relaxes and she seems to have accepted my statement.
“Where is Jesus?”
I freeze, my son knocking the cereal off the bright red spoon in my hand. Can’t I at least finish my coffee before I have to explain theological concepts?
I fumble through my answer to this query and her follow-up questions: Where is Heaven? Will daddy be there? Do I get to wear a crown like Jesus? I lift up a short prayer before answering each one as faithfully as I can with my limited supply of caffeine and toddler appropriate language.
Despite my sluggish morning brain, I’m grateful she’s starting to ask questions. More of what she hears seems to be sinking into her little mind and heart (including the books we read and the movies we watch). She’s curious about why people are sad, how a fish can swim, and even what death is. While I’m honored to be the one she feels safe asking these hard questions, I feel the pressure rising to get my words right.
Our breakfast conversation continues as she swirls the sticky golden honey into her yogurt, and I can tell she’s processing each response. Then like the sudden disappearance of a summer shower, her curious questioning is replaced by a loud rendition of Frozen II’s “Into the Unknown.”
I sit back in the kitchen chair and exhale the breath I had unconsciously been holding, realizing my entire body had tensed throughout her cross-examination. But I continue praying, hoping that God could use my clumsy answers to plant seeds of truth that will blossom into mature faith one day.
I’m reminded that this tiny conversation—and the ones like it while we drive to preschool, while she sits on her toddler potty, and while I wash her hair—is discipleship. Jesus could have stuck to the mountains, shouting his truth for crowds of thousands. He could have remained in the temples speaking to the religious elite. He even could have sought an audience with political leaders. But instead, he spent most of his time reclining at a table with simple men and women, answering the questions of a handful of disciples. And they asked a lot of questions.
They asked selfish questions: Which of us is the most important? (Matthew 18:1)
They asked foolish questions: Do I have to forgive my brother again? (Matthew 18:21)
They also asked eternal questions: How can anyone be saved? (Matthew 19:25)
No matter how mundane or momentous the question, Jesus answered. Because he knew each conversation, each tiny moment, was an opportunity for discipleship.
Jesus knew that disciples were made in the everyday moments of life. Discipleship is Jesus washing mud off of the disciple’s feet and me wiping mashed bananas off of my children’s faces. It’s Jesus providing for the crowds growling bellies and me throwing apple sauce pouches to the back seat. It’s Jesus patiently answering his disciples’ questions, no matter how ignorant. It’s me explaining the difference between a fictional, magical dragon and the gospel of Jesus Christ, no matter how early in the morning it is. This is the path of discipleship that Jesus walked, and I am called to follow in his steps.
My prayers continue at the kitchen sink as my daughter skips off to play in her room and I wash the dishes. One minute I’m explaining matters of eternity, and the next I’m scraping dried cereal off a plastic bowl. This is discipleship—tiny but significant. This is motherhood. This is holy work.
This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in this series “Minutiae”.