I was musing about what today’s “blog moment” might be while doing my evening reading. As it happens, I’ve been working my way through Romans, and after a few minutes I chanced across this gem:
“Let love be without falseness: hating evil, clinging to what is good, loving one another with fraternal charity, surpassing one another in honor: in solicitude, not lazy; in spirit, fervent; serving the Lord; in hope, rejoicing; in tribulation, enduring; in prayer, ever-willing; in the difficulties of the saints, sharing; in hospitality, attentive. Bless those who are persecuting you: bless, and do not curse. (Rom 12:9-14)”
I have probably read that particular passage at least two hundred times in my life, and I am quite aware that the Apostle was not intentionally referring to preschoolers. However, it brought to mind one particular episode from the day, and caused me to reflect that we are called to have the faith of a child. Everything to which I am called by that Scripture seems so difficult sometimes . . . and then the Lord uses His little blessings to school the homeschooler.
Mr. Man receive a belated birthday present today from two of his wee playmates who, being afflicted with hand, foot, and mouth disease, were unable to attend his birthday festivities at the Rodent Redoubt. I had mentioned to their mom, who is a good friend and former colleague of mine, that our oldest son loves Spider-Man, and she helped her daughters select a pad of giant Spider-Man coloring pages, a Spider-Man puzzle, and a big playbal with superheroes on it. The ball, to Mr. Man’s eyes, was pretty darned cool, and he had a terrific time taking all the puzzle pieces out of the box and telling me which ones had bits of Spidey on them, but the absolute treasure of the lot was the coloring pages, which featured an enormous picture of his hero on the package (that’s going to become a poster in the boys’ room tomorrow).
He stood on his Daddy’s chair at the table, eyes aglow and a positively jubilant smile radiating from his entire face, petting Spidey through the plastic (Mr. Man pets people and puppies alike) and cooing, “Hi, Spidey. Nice Spidey! Is big Spider-Mans!” Bugaboo, whose admiration for the webslinging hero is rivaled only by her little brother’s, stood close by. I was carefully monitoring her proximity to Mr. Man’s new prize, since, as I mentioned a few days ago, Bugaboo has a nasty little tendency to “help” her siblings play with things by taking them away and using them all by herself.
While Mr. Man loves to color, these pictures are absolutely HUGE, so I asked him, “Mr. Man, would you like Bugaboo to help you color a big Spider-Man?” His little face crinkled in thought for a moment; he squinted, cocked his head, and said, “Okay.”
This is what happened next:
When there is a kerfuffle at our house involving two of the tiny people, it is most likely to be Mr. Man and Bugaboo; although Mr. Man is very generous and kind for a two-year old boy, he is still a two-year old boy, with the attendant temper and tendency to disproportionate responses to wrongs, real or perceived, and his oldest sister’s acquisitiveness has started a few tiffs where I thought I might have to break out the boxing gloves. He eyes her warily whenever she comes near something he’s really enjoying. That said, he will almost always let her play with him if he’s given the choice. He’ll even share his M&Ms with her if she says, “please.”
Last night, when he shared his coloring page, he was living Romans 12:9-14. He doesn’t understand that yet, of course, but he loves his sisters and his brother, even though his sisters aren’t very kind to him sometimes; what he does comprehend is that if you love somebody, you share what you have with them, and are glad to share not only the object, but also the time and the joy with them. No temporal laws or rules can compel loving behavior, and when he acted from his love for his sister (I would not have made him share, and he knows it), he reminded me that no matter how much I, as an adult, try to argue and nuance and rationalize, following Christ really is as simple as freely sharing our blessings, whatever those blessings may be.
Today’s prayer: Lord, You commanded us to love one another sacrificially, and to forgive one another as often as we transgress. Your blessings reminded me today that simple, childlike faith and love are pleasing to you; no matter how I try to justify not showing love to particular people because of the wrongs they hay have committed, the offense of another does not relieve me of the responsibility to treat them with charity. Help me teach Your blessings that if we love You, we will conduct all our dealings with others in the manner explained by Your apostle — with love, joy, honesty, charity, and diligence. Thank You for the lesson You taught me through Your little blessings, and for softening their hearts towards each other (and, sometimes, towards their parents). Please remind me that my tendency to rationalize uncharitable words, thoughts, and deeds comes not from You, but drives me away from You, and help me to see clearly the loving response You expect from me in every situation.