The boy was obviously not phased by the loud answer...it was nothing new. He calmly responded, "But why can I not get down?" I almost held my breath for the dear soul awaiting his mommy's very aggravated response,
"Because I am STILL trying to eat!!!"
I'm sure it did not go unnoticed how the mannerisms of the mommy were kindly softened when the waitress approached. Especially to the boy. I have to wonder, what happens from the time they hand us that innocent, helpless life wrapped in a footed blanket that takes our breath away, to becoming that one thing that brings out the ugliest.
It was while grocery shopping that I heard a toddler wailing and no doubt making a scene somewhere near me. It was a few feet away I get a glimpse of a very young mom grabbing the shoulders of a very frustrated two or three year old little girl and pushing her down into the back of the buggy. You could feel the anger...the embarrassment....the shame. Because no one wakes up one morning & decides, "Hey! I'm going to be one of those moms."
Because, truthfully, our biggest fear is being judged. Judged and labeled as one of those. We not only have been in a similar scenario but most assuredly we have been the judges...more than we can count. "someone needs to spank their kids," "she is so mean she needs her kids taken away, look at her, didn't even fix her hair. The shame/"
Somehow it's easier to see those struggling, place our judgement and sigh a sigh of relief that they make us look pretty darn good. After all, my hair is fixed (today) & my kids are sitting perfectly in the buggy. So we blend in with the ones passing by raising their eye brows.
Can I back up to my first story...so Justin & I are sitting there at the table with our kids, listening to the commotion behind us. And he says, "don't you hate that?" He was referring to those moms that yell in public I suppose. But it's justified if done behind closed doors? As long as our kids make us look good in public? My heart is aching. Why is it more important to make a good impression on the waitress and folks next to us than our own children? The lives that come straight from the depths of our gut continue to pull at the most intimate parts of our soul once they are born. They reveal what we hate about ourselves. Our selfishness, our pride, our priorities....they are a constant reminder of just how much we do not have it together.
Why is this? Why does eternity lie in the heart's of the least of these? Why does the bible say the kingdom belongs to them? Why would God choose the messiest, neediest, humans on earth to hide His mysteries?
Because they realize their need. Because their faith knows no limits. Because they are the most forgiving creatures alive. Their love is unconditional. They have no love for money, only a massive need to be loved. They do not see poor & rich, but people. They cry when another baby cries. They see the ugliest of you & still wake up with arms wide open.
His mercies are also new every morning...
Maybe we've grown up to realize we have it all backwards...our priorities are all wrong....we don't know how to seek His kingdom even though He's placed it right in front of us. Instead we brush it aside, trample it, yell at it, jerk it, and wonder why they just don't get it!? Why can't they care about what we care about?
Why can't we care about what they care about? What God cares about?
Lauren comes to me with two sticks this morning. She has been working on them for a couple days, "getting all the rough bark off," she says. She wants me to feel her progress, "do you feel how smooth this part is? I'm about done with the tops." I have to ask, "why do you need them to be smooth?" She answers, "When you hit them together they sound better than when they're rough. They make better instruments." She demonstrates this to me.
"What are you going to do with them once you're done?"
"Make a cross."
My heart melted.....the cross is where we find grace.....no rough spots, no old bark, but softness.....
Is this God's whole idea of children? Yes, they pull at the most intimate parts of our lives---simply because they are God's tools....they work for eternity while we strive for the temporal. They are tools used to scrape the rough spots, the old, flaky bark until we are smooth....gentle....approachable.
Does this not hold true to all the people we turn our faces from? The druggies. We avoid eye contact because we're on a different plane than they are. We don't have addictions like they do....at least ones that show. We know how to hide ours. And compared to theirs, ours seem small, until we wake up one day and realize it's sucking the life from us, just like theirs are.
The woman who had an affair. We look way down on her, "How could she do this to her family?" "I don't want to be seen talking to her...she's so low." But who hasn't struggled with desperately needing to feel loved? Who is really beyond the temptations of this? Who hasn't felt ugly and needed the assurance someone would always love us as we grew older?
No one. We are sinners, fallen very short of the glory of God. This is where the cross comes in....again. And always will. We need His grace. Others need His grace.
You see, in all the ones we turn our face from, there's a little bit of our self staring back at us, reminding us of why we sit at the foot of the cross, daily. That portrait of the one person we shiver at the most, is a visual of ourselves without drinking from that fountain of grace. The cross, sprayed like graffiti, on top of that ugly portrait. If not for grace and the cross, I could not reach out to those struggling, I could not sympathize. If not for grace and the cross I would not care too...I would be more content to judge.
But the cross judges no one but me. Then washes me clean & I find grace to carry on where I desperately fall short.