“And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Luke 2:35
For Lent each year, my three kids make their own crown of thorns out of play-doh and toothpicks. Then, over the course of the next 40 days, they focus on trying to do kind things for others. Each time they do, they take a thorn out of their crowns. The idea is: if they are helping someone else, they are helping Jesus. Their kind actions remove the thorns that caused Him so much pain.
The other day Zack came home from school and asked if he could take two thorns out of his crown. I asked him what he had done to help others. He explained that during recess that week, he had retrieved Brock’s tennis ball twice from the huge snowbanks when it went out of play.
I am calling this boy “Brock” to protect the “not so innocent.” The “backstory” is: Zack has been friends with Noah and Sean for years (their names have also been changed to protect the innocent). Last August, Zack and I were thrilled to find out that Noah and Sean were placed in Zack’s fifth grade class this year. Consequently, it has been a great school year since… up until a few months ago.
This classmate Brock decided that he didn’t like Zack. He has spent every recess since winning Noah and Sean over, and excluding Zack from whatever game they are playing that day. Zack and I have spent hours talking about it, crying about it, and strategizing how to respond to it all. It’s one of those difficult situations that, unfortunately, so many kids go through. It’s also one of those situations where there’s no guidebook for how involved I should be. So I have been leaving it up to Zack to call the shots.
When Zack told me about retrieving the tennis ball, I had a glimmer of hope that perhaps they were now including him in the game. When I asked Zack, he said no. Yet again, Brock wouldn’t allow Zack to play with them.
His answer was like a knife to my heart. How dare this kid steal my son’s friends, exclude him from recess games, and then use him as a gopher?! The mama bear in me rose up and wanted to knock this Brock kid into next week! When I shared my indignation with Zack, telling him that he doesn’t have to be anyone’s servant, his response was, “But he didn’t ask me to do it. I did it to be nice.” My sweet, innocent Zack. Although I am in awe of his giving heart, I still so desperately want to protect it.
I have NO idea how Mary and Jesus did it! HOW did Mary stand by and watch her Son suffer the way He did? HOW did Jesus’ heart not shatter into a million pieces when one friend betrayed Him, another friend denied Him, and all but a few completely abandoned Him when He needed them most? Moreover, HOW did He forgive every single one of them, and still continue to forgive us when we do the same things?
What impresses me most is that Zack’s focus was more on helping others, than it was on himself. His concern was more about easing Jesus’ pain, than easing his own. Despite the fact that the mama bear in me is still growling for revenge, I need to recognize that Zack is the one in the right, not me. Although I will continue to be vigilant, coaching Zack so that he doesn’t become anyone’s doormat, I also have to remember that all that Mary and Jesus went through had a purpose. They knew and lived out the fact that the only way to heal this broken world is through forgiveness and love. I need to put my own pain and indignation aside, and follow right alongside my little “peace maker” as he too makes this world a better place.
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