It's funny the little things that God uses to teach us about Himself, isn't it?
Well I (Amy) know more about Jesus because of something that happened at my little library yesterday and I have weeped about it every time I recount the story to someone. Don't know if I can do it justice in such a flat medium of a blog post, but we'll see...
Okay, so yesterday is Tuesday morning, which means it's time for Caroline's 1 hr. preschool storytime hour class at our local library. We signed up a few months ago with our neighbors down the street-- Leah, (who you all probably KNOW by now if you've followed our blog for any time! ha!) Caroline's best friend, and her mom, Susan.
The class is simple, but good, you know? Just the basics-- the kids get to sit on a mat & listen to some stories read to them. They sing a few songs with motions to get the jiggles out. And they do a craft at the end. Sounds good, right? And for everything that we've been through, I can't express what it means to me just to have ONE public outing that does not involve FOOD. My kid is the same as every other kid. Besides the hat or bald head, there is nothing that makes us "stand out" or show us for the food wierdo's that we have to be right now... :)
So we show up to class and here's the conversation:
Teacher: Hi Caroline!
C: Hi, Miss Lisa!
T: How are you doing today?
C: I'm doing pretty good. I ate a hot dog!
T: (obviously confused) A hot dog?? At 10am?? It's not even lunchtime yet!
To which I just shrug it off quickly with a joke about how kids are crazy about what they'll eat & when, right? Better to just leave that one alone. Nevermind the fact that what I really wanted to say was, "Yeah! That's right! BECAUSE WHEN YOU'VE LOST ALL YOUR HAIR AND STRUGGLED LIKE OUR FAMILY HAS FOR ALMOST A YEAR AND YOU AREN'T EATING GLUTEN, DAIRY, SOY, PROCESSED FOODS, or much SUGAR, YOU ARE PRETTY MUCH LOW ON OPTIONS!! AND WHEN YOU'RE TRYING TO KILL AN ENTIRE POPULATION OF PARASITES IN YOUR GUT, YOU CAN'T EVEN EAT CARBS or FRUIT RIGHT NOW, EITHER! SO WHAT WOULD _YOU_ GIVE HER IF YOU WERE ME?!? Oh, I'd give ANYTHING to be able to chunk a handful of goldfish crackers in a bowl and be done with snacktime! But I CAN'T! So the easiest thing I CAN do is to throw a no nitrate, no MSG, GFCF turkey hot dogs that cost about 5 TIMES as much as any hot dog you're probably thinking of into the microwave & cut it up into pieces for her!! Look, I KNOW we're not 'NORMAL', okay? I GET THAT. But PLEEEEAAASE do not judge me on what my child is eating at snack time."
Um, ya think I've got some issues??? :)
Obviously she meant nothing by her comment & she'd have felt terrible had she known our situation, I'm sure-- it was simply a trigger for MY pain and MY insecurities. I share that not to make our teacher look bad, but to show the struggle in my own heart. The problem is with ME. (though it does make me wonder what things I say to people in jest, not knowing their situation?) So whatever. No biggie.
But when the teacher tells the kids during class that she brought them all COOKIES, then it was enough to make my heart sink. What?! Even the LIBRARY isn't "safe" anymore?! I can't even come to the LIBRARY without thinking of food??? My mind quickly rushes to take inventory of what snacks I might have stuffed in my purse on the way out the door. Geez, of course I didn't bring ANYTHING today! I remember. As I'm figuring out in my mind how I'll handle this situation, my sweet daughter walks up to me.
"Mommy, can I have a cookie?" she innocently asks.
(Can I just crawl in a hole and cry right now?)
"No sweetheart, I'm sorry. That would make your tummy sick right now." I say to her, waiting for her reaction.
And off she went! Back to playing with her best buddy, Leah, on the mat. She didn't question me. She just trusted me. That was a good enough explanation for her. (praise God!)
Well, then it becomes time to move to the tables for our craft, and the teacher announces she'll be passing out the cookies to everyone. In frustration, I turn to Leah's mom, Susan, and mutter under my breath, "Ugh. What am I gonna DO?"
"Did you bring anything to eat?" she asks me.
I shake my head. (and probably roll my eyes as I'm mentally beating myself up in my head)
And Susan, I will NEVER forget what you said next.
"Well, we're not gonna get a cookie either, so we can just sit at our own table."
WHAT?! Really?? Are you sure?? Your kid would LOVE a cookie! No. Your kid will have to go without! Are you really going to say no because you care about MY kid??
We move to our own table and as the girls start their crafts, I am still in shock at Susan's decision. (Susan, I know you're probably totally embarrassed by now & thinking it was no big deal, but to ME, it meant so much!) The teacher comes around with the package of glittery sugar cookies in the shape of pumpkins with sprinkles on them (you know the kind--- the ones that BECKON you to take them & eat one and before you know it, you've eaten the entire package??), and before I could utter a word, Susan says to the teacher quietly, "It's okay. We don't need one." I didn't even have to say a WORD. SHE took the awkwardness and the "blame" upon herself for us all.
Thankfully our girls were so involved in their craft projects that they didn't even notice the other kids enjoying their cookies. (thank you, Lord, AGAIN!) Then the teacher announces that next week's theme will be Fancy Nancy & we'll be having a party instead of a craft! Well, you know what I hear when she says that: FOOD. At the LIBRARY??? Come on! And once again, as I was trying to come up with some food ideas I could bring for Caroline next week, Susan stepped in and said, "You want me to just bring some veggies and hummus for our girls to eat together?"
I don't know if I can even explain how HUGE what Susan did was to me. As I drove home and my eyes began filling with tears, I said out loud, "my neighbor was Jesus to me today." That's what Jesus did. He didn't leave us in our messy situations. He JOINED in. Even as KING, He took our shames as His own. The creator of the universe came down out of all of the riches of heaven and got really MESSY in our world of brokenness. He doesn't leave me feeling like I'm the odd-man out, like I don't belong anymore, like I'm the wierdo and outcast. THOSE were the very people that He gravitated TOWARD!! If Jesus had been in the library with me yesterday, He would've done what my neighbor did and forgone the cookie. He might have even shaved his head, too, who knows?? :) He gave up every last right and desire to take all the MESS that I am upon Himself. HE became the guilty so that I could be free.
Alright. I know. It was just a cookie. But Jesus showed me more of Himself today. And as blown away and appreciative as I still am at my neighbor's generosity, it gives me a much deeper thankfulness toward a precious Savior who not only gave up a cookie, but his LIFE, for me.