And a little child shall lead them. — Some Guy in the Bible, probably
Remember, we’re invited to have a child-like faith.
I say that because too many us devolve into having a child-ish faith.
Different things. Those are different things.
I often learn about faith from my son.
I’ve shared countless of times the joy that exudes from him.
I’ve never met anyone so joyous to receive communion; or to just be at church.
He imbues joy. (Did I use that word right? Imbue).
Recently, I learned about forgiveness from him.
We were getting ready for school.
That morning, I found myself more tired than I normally am (Let’s be real. Now that I’m in my 40’s, I’m always tired. Some days more than others…). The wife had left for work a while ago.
We were almost all set to go and he needed to fill his water bottle.
I was collecting my things that I’d need for work when I hear… nothing. Just silence coming from the kitchen— and it’s been a few minutes.
I walked into the kitchen and I just see him standing in front of the fridge, staring at it.
”Dude. What are you doing? Fill it up and let’s go.”
“Nope. You can do this on your own.”
He kept staring. I guess he was trying to align where the water will come out to the lip of his bottle. But for whatever reason, he couldn’t do it and resorted to just staring. And I’m like dude, just push the button to get the water coming out.
He just kept trying to adjust the water bottle to align with the spout and I start feeling the blood in me getting warmer by the minute.
I had no idea why he was struggling. He has two hands! Yet he was using both hands to hold the water bottle and using the lip of the bottle to push the button. It obviously was not working. And his attempts were getting water all over the place.
The blood is now beginning to boil.
I tell him to try again, all the while my temperature is getting hotter and hotter by the seconds.
And I feel it rising and rising while he’s struggling and struggling. I can feel me losing it. And I’m trying and trying not to. But I feel my sanity and control slipping away the more he struggles with filling his water bottle.
And at this point, he’s nervous as hell so his hands are shaking.
I see this and I know I should be sympathetic but instead, it’s just making it worse.
About a few more minutes later than this, I just end up losing it. And I snatch the water bottle from him with such force that the bottle (and the water inside it) flies out of both of our hands, getting water all over him and the kitchen. The bottle did not survive the fall, either.
The morning was now officially ruined.
He’s crying and I’m just… worked up. I’m muttering under my breath while cleaning up the mess.
And when all is cleaned up, this wave of regret washes over me.
There was absolutely no need to lose my shit over this.
But yet I did.
I walk over to him, who’s still crying, and apologize for losing my temper and asked him if he’d wanna stay home from school —or at the least go in late.
”No, I want to go to school.”
Oh thank God…
He lets me give him a hug and in the back of the mind, I’m starting to get paranoid.
Like, what if he tells the teacher what happened this morning? He doesn’t have a large vocabulary. What if he tells his teacher that dad got mad, broke my water bottle and made me cry? That looks bad.
We go to school — his spirit isn’t too dejected. He’s happy to be going to school. Or getting away for me. Or both.
And another wave of regret washes over me — this time, with a tinge of paranoia, as if I should be prepared for a conversation with some sort of authorities later in the day/
All throughout the day, I feel waves of regret crashing in on me.
There was absolutely no reason —none whatsoever — for me to react the way I did.
And even when it was happening, no matter how I tried, I could feel my grip on sanity loosen up as seconds passed.
Even with all the inner prompts to calm down, I ignored them like the 65MPH speed limit we all dismiss.
I texted my wife to let her know what happened.
And told her to expect a big purchase because if he asks me to buy him anything, I’m just gonna have to say ’yes.’
What better way to appease the god of guilt than with bribes…?
When it’s time to pick him up, the same wave of guilt and regret with a sprinkle of paranoia washes over me once more.
And I’m wondering what his reaction would be when he sees me.
I thoroughly ruined his morning and set him up to have a not so decent day.
He gets picked up in the school’s cafeteria, accompanied by his teachers and aides.
From where we stand to pick him up, we can see the entrance to the cafeteria.
I see one of his aides walk through the door first, flanked by my little-but-not-so-little boy.
The moment he sees me, he starts waving his hands wildly. He points me out to his teacher, all the while stimming.
When he’s handed off to me, he’s still stimming and says, ”I had a good day! I missed you daddy!”
There was a tsunami of emotions that flooded over me (regret and guilt still being in the mix).
Whatever happened in the morning was long forgotten by him.
He was telling me what he ate at school and what he wanted to do next.
I couldn’t help but ask, ”Hey, are mad at me for this morning?”
”No. I’m happy.”
There’s this moment in Jacob’s story.
He’s fixing to return home.
But he’s anxious and nervous because when he left home, it was because his older twin brother vowed to kill him. After all, Jacob swindled Esau and their father out of Esau’s birthright blessing.
As he’s internally wrestling with all that implications of him going home, that’s when he also physically wrestles with God and is blessed with a new name and identity.
Yet, Jacob was still nervous.
So he splits his camp in two, sending them off in different paths so that if Esau anger still burns after all these years, not all of his family needed to perish with him.
After sending Esau a mess of gifts and a note that he’s coming back, Jacob and company make their way home.
In the horizon, Jacob sees Esau and about 400 men coming towards him.
Jacob went ahead of his family and bowed to the ground (7 times) as his brother approaches.
It’s a gesture of giving himself up. It’s the position one gets in before being beheaded.
His life thoroughly hangs in the hands of Esau.
Esau runs up to him, and instead of killing the brother that betrayed him, embraces him and kisses him.
Esau asks, ”what’s with all the things that you sent me?”
“To find favor with you, my Lord.”
Esau tries to reassure Jacob that this isn’t necessary, none of this is necessary.
And Jacob responds:
No, please; if I find favor with you, then accept my present from my hand; for truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God.
For Jacob, looking into the eyes of his forgiver was like seeing the face of God.
How much that resonated with me.
The events of that morning was long gone in his mind.
All he wanted to do was hang out with his dad while waiting for trains to pass by.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of (and feel) the presence and grace of God that is always extended to me, whether I deserve it or not.
I’d be a healthier and more whole of a Christian if I embodied life the way my son does.
Indeed, what a gift Nathanael is to me; to us.
… most of the times.