My kids are finicky eaters. It’s not that they won’t try new things, because they will, halfheartedly. The real problem is their favorite foods change without warning.
“Mom, why did you give me carrots?” My daughter stared at her plate like it was crawling with earthworms.
“Because it’s lunch time. Eat up.”
“But I don’t like carrots.”
“Excuse me?” Now it was my turn to stare. “What do you mean, you don’t like carrots? I’ve fed you carrots practically every day since you were old enough to chew.”
“I know. I just don’t like them anymore.”
“Since I don’t know! Can I have something else?”
Ugh. And it’s not just the carrots, for heaven’s sake. This same scenario has played out with kiwi, blueberries, oatmeal, yogurt, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese (what kid won’t eat mac and cheese?)—and so much more. One day they’re lapping up a bowl of broccoli and asking for more; the next day they refuse to stab a fork in it.
How is a mother supposed to feed her people when the rules keep shifting?
I know what you’re thinking. The “good mom” approach is to make them eat it anyway. Sure, sure, okay. But how? By forcing it down their throats? Sending them to bed with no supper? (My parents did this to me once and I’m telling you from experience, it backfired.)
Nope, I can think of only one truly effective way to get a kid to eat a “yucky” food. And it has nothing to do with hiding it in brownie batter.
The best trick is an honest one.
Show them how delicious it is.
“Mmm… have you tried these carrots? Oh my goodness I am so glad I bought these carrots, they are the tastiest thing I’ve ever eaten in my life. You really should have one of these carrots. Oh, wait. I forgot. You don’t like carrots. Wow, that’s too bad. You’ll never know just how crunchy and crispy and sweet these carrots are. I guess I’ll have to eat them all myself!”
You think this only works on toddlers, right? Funny. I believe it works on grown-ups, too.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
Who among us has not switched our tastes on a whim? One day we love to pray, we can’t get enough of prayer and Bible reading and quiet time with the Lord—and the next day we’re too busy, God isn’t quite as palatable, we just can’t bother to build an appetite for Him.
Or one moment we’re all sweetness and light to our family, hugging them, kissing them, showering them with encouragement. And later that same day—that same hour, perhaps—we’re snapping and barking and scowling like a mad bull dog.
And in moments of strength, we trust God. We release our agendas and our worries and our fears. We give him his rightful place on the throne of our wandering hearts. But then any little trigger—a hurtful word, a piece of discouraging news, a mood swing, you name it—can instantly bring that trust tumbling down until we’re buried once again in anxiety and doubt.
But child, says the Lord. You trusted me yesterday.
You liked my carrots.
You ate them up.
Ah. If we could answer that question, there would be no need for the question.
Perhaps in those moments all we can do is plead—Lord, please show me what is good.
Look back on the past few years of your life, the past 12 months, or last week, for crying out loud—just dig deep into last week alone. Can you not see a string of experiences trailing behind you in which God demonstrated—time and again—his faithfulness toward you? I’m not saying everything has gone the way you’ve planned. Of course it hasn’t. Sometimes God dishes up a totally different plate from the one we had in mind.
But when we trust him enough to eat what he’s feeding us, an amazing thing happens. We begin to see him working in our lives. We delight in it. We feel a sense of peace even when peace makes no sense. Then eventually we start to want for ourselves the same things he wants for us. In other words, God tells us—he shows us—the carrot is delicious, and we agree.
“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
Wow. Don’t you want God’s carrots? I know I sure do. But tomorrow, just like you, I might forget. I might get tired or distracted or hormonal and reach for an entire bag of chocolate chips instead (don’t judge).
So tell me. Can we do this for one another? You feed me my portion of carrots and I’ll feed you yours. Find a friend to hold you accountable to God’s wisdom and love, and do the same for her. Then in moments of weakness we can remind one another to pray—show me, Lord, what is good.
Help me to swallow the carrots.
Help me to love the carrots.
And I wouldn’t mind a few chocolate chips for dessert.
Just a little handful.
With peanut butter.
But okay okay okay. I’ll eat the carrots first.
Because I trust you.
I delight in you.