To Click It is the Ticket

Before I could turn off the water in the sink, my 3-year-old son opened the restroom door and ran into the restaurant. By the time I caught up with him, he was already in the middle of the room. He ran to his grandparents, proclaiming at the very top of his lungs: “I PEED IN THE POTTY!”

I stopped dead behind him, noticing that all the tables were looking at us — clearly these folks were morally offended that such talk might accompany a plate of spaghetti. My son and I were undeterred. I clapped and yelled: “He did it”!!! Moral sensibilities be damned. This was a time for celebration.

This day was a very long time coming. As all parents know, the potty struggle is a true test of grit and love. For months, we’ve tried all the methods that worked with our oldest. Then, we tried the ones that didn’t work with her. Then we tried the ones suggested in the myriad of books, which all claim to have the perfect solution for potty training your child. Public Service Announcement: they are ALL wrong. No one knows what they are doing.

In truth, my 3 year old son is the wisest of us all. A few months ago, when asked why he goes potty at preschool but not at home, he said with as much certainty as a 3-year-old can muster: “Because it’s a mystery.”

It’s a mystery why it won’t work, and then it’s a mystery when it does.

Because in the fullness of time (aka one Saturday in January), it clicked. It clicked in body, mind, and soul. He peed, and he’s gone every day since. Nothing was different about that moment from my point of view. But for my son (and for God above), it was everything.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the things in life that just click into place. Those times when something just works out. When you find the right job, or the right person, or the right recipe, or the right solution, or the right diagnosis, or the right friend at just the right time.

This winter, both my son and daughter had major “click” moments. Just as her brother was learning to use the potty, my daughter was learning to read. After months of sounding out letters and attempting the string them together, one night it clicked. She sounded out the words by pressing her thumb into her fingers with each letter’s sound. She’d done it hundreds of times before, but that night, the words clicked in her mind.

The expression of pure amazement on both of their faces is a sight I will never ever forget. As their mother, I witnessed the moment their brains figured it out. The moment all their hard work and frustration melted away, and they finally understood how it works. What a mysterious, indescribable moment.

Yet, why the click happens continues to elude me. As parents, we keep thinking we can make that moment happen, but usually it only happens when we stop trying. As professionals, we do the same thing at our jobs. In the church, it’s a mystery as to why some programs work miracles at one church but don’t at another. It’s why there’s as many books written about church growth as there are about potty training: everyone thinks they have the miracle cure. Yet, sometimes it “clicks” and sometimes it doesn’t.

We do the same thing with personal relationships. Recently, I was interviewed for our town’s living magazine, which is featuring our family and church in an upcoming issue. The writer asked me to recount the story of how I met my husband. I told her the cliff notes version: We met on eHarmony. I’d been dating online for a while, but Kyle was matched with me the night he registered. After talking online, we met in person. Then I said that infamous phase: “We just clicked. We knew it was right, and the rest is history.” The writer, who has done a lot of these features said off-hand, “Why does everyone say that? What does it mean ‘you just knew?’”

I don’t have an answer to that. Why do we all say that? It doesn’t make much logical sense to just “click” with someone. The truth is “clicking” is difficult to describe. In both friendships and dating, I’ve met people who were very similar to me, who I didn’t “click with”. And I’ve met people different from me, who I just clicked with and we’ve been friends ever since.

The truth is: Kyle and I just clicked. We could write lists about the ways we’re a good match, but in the end that’s not why we fell in love, got married, and made a life together. I can, however, name the actual moment, I knew we’d get married. We were on a date to the view the Pompeii Exhibit at the Franklin Institute. While waiting in line to enter the exhibit, the tour guide handed out survey cards.  The card asked: “who are you here with today?” Kyle checked “family.” As I watched him, my little heart pitter-pattered and said: ‘Yes. We will be a family.’ My future life clicked into place.

However, if you ask Kyle about that moment, he’ll tell you that wasn’t his “click” moment. He says, the form didn’t have a box for: “just dating and seeing where this goes”, so he just checked “family.” Kyle names a different “click” moment. We both came to the same conclusion, but from different angles. Which is, perhaps, a good description of why we’re a good match.

It’s a mystery. Sometimes the pieces suddenly fall into place. Sometimes a child suddenly goes go potty after months of refusing. Sometimes a child suddenly reads after months of confusion. Sometimes two people who live 60 miles apart find each other on the internet and fall in love.

It’s a mystery because we simply cannot make those “click” moments happen. But we sure we try. I think of all the relationships I had before Kyle where we tried to make it click, but it wouldn’t. Or the churches I interviewed with before finding 1st Pres, Haddon Heights that looked good on paper, but somehow weren’t the right fit. Yet, in their own way, each situation that didn’t work out was preparation for the ones that did.

Because struggle tends to come before AND after the click. There’s the search for the right job, the right person, the right training method, the right book. Then there’s hard work that comes with living into the “click.” Every day, I work hard to be the pastor my church family needs (sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fall short). Every day, Kyle and I work hard at our relationship (working through our disagreements and loving each other through it). Every day, my daughter keeps working at her words as she learns the ridiculous rules of this English language of ours. Every day, my son struggles to learn the 2nd part of potty training (let’s just say that even though #1 has fully clicked, #2 is still a work in progress. Please pray for click #2).

We can work hard. We can hope. We can struggle. We can learn. We can practice. We can make lists. Yet sometimes things just work out … and sometimes they don’t. The answers lie in the mysterious heart of our God.

At the end of the book of Deuteronomy, Moses speaks to the Israelites as they conclude their 40 year wanderings in the wilderness. Moses recounts all they have been through and prepares them for what lie ahead: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and to our children forever to observe all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29). The mysterious clicks belong to the Lord our God, but we get to observe the indescribable joy of a click. We get to experience the moment when all our hard work and frustration melts away, and we finally get it.

I hope that next time it all clicks for you, that you can be like a 3 year old in a crowded restaurant or even like Buddy the Elf in a coffee shop:

God did it! Congratulations!

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