Hiding the Light

I cried on Sunday morning. That's not so unusual. Many things have made me cry on a Sunday morning. A song. A prayer. The weight of the world's pain. The weight of my own depravity. But last Sunday my heart was breaking for my son, who in his purity attempted to give God a gift, and was rebuffed. Not by the Lord, but by someone with extremely flawed intentions. How to explain my son's heart? He is six years old. Like any human being he has flaws. He whines. He demands his own way and weeps as if his heart would break if he doesn't get it. He can be negative. But his sensitivity that can lead to temper tantrums always leads to tenderness, and a deep desire to do that right thing.

My son is often misunderstood by people who think he is bratty, when truthfully most of the time he is on sensory overload. And he can be very hard to deal with during his meltdowns. I get frustrated and angry when my son is screaming and weeping over something that seems of little importance. That's why I take it especially hard when he is criticized, not for being naughty, but for simply being himself.

We always try to give our children some loose change to put in the offering plate. "Give it to Jesus," we tell them. On this particular Sunday my husband and I realized we had put our last bit of change towards the donuts that are available every Sunday morning along with free coffee, and we had nothing for the offering plate.

Jarvis began to panic. He had to put *something* in the offering plate. He settled on one of the three, count 'em, THREE, stuffed spiderman dolls he had insisted on bringing inside. There was a slight commotion as Hugh tried to get him to stop, and I said "Let him do it."

Just then one of our busybodies decided to interject...a woman who frequently thinks it's her job to do my job. She is a frequent source of irritation to me, but I try to extend her some grace because I know that we are two very different kinds of people. The problem is that I don't think I am better than her, but folks like her almost always think they are better than me.

"Stop that Jarvis. Don't do that," she snapped at my son who was becoming increasingly confused over the conflicitng messages he was getting. I looked back at her and said calmly "It's not like he was going to get it back later...he was trying to do the right thing." "Oh no he wasn't" she scoffed rudely. I felt my cheek color rising to match fury flaming up inside me.

"Jarvis...were you joking around?" In a panic...he helplessly picked an answer out of the air...one he hoped that would keep him out of trouble. "Yes?" With that I made him get up and I furiously walked to the bathroom with my hand gripping his shoulder. Once in I turned him to face me. "You embarrassed me out there. Now tell me the truth...why did you want to put your Spiderman in the offering plate?"

He sank miserably to the floor. "Because I didn't have any money and I wanted to give Jesus something and I thought he would like Spiderman." My instincts had been right, and the fact that I had been goaded into not following them by a snippy, unhappy woman made me sick.

My son and I went outside and sat on the porch. I held in my lap, and I wept. My son had attempted to give something he loved, something he would normally never part with. The idea of Jarvis getting rid of ANYTHING voluntarily is shocking. He sentamentilizes everything. I got rid of a lego table I had NEVER seen any of the children pay attention to...a lego table that was not even HIS, and he shrieked as though I was cutting out his spleen with a butter knife. He wants to keep every piece of trash...they are all his treasure.

To put a Spiderman doll in the offering plate was for him a deep act of worship, a surrender the likes of which I had never seen. It was like he was putting his own, imperfect, human heart in that plate, offering his heart up. And that woman smacked it out and told him his heart wasn't good enough.

Of course, offering plates are for money. And my son's raggedy Spiderman wasn't going to pay for the church's electricity, or to feed people across the world. But like the woman who poured perfume on the feet of Christ and wiped them with her hair, his offering was his way of connecting to Christ, of giving himself humbly.

And the diciples grumbled that the money was wasted, that it should have been given to the poor. And they tried to keep the children away from Christ. And both times Christ asked these misguided people to not critisize those who come to him. And yet it continues to happen.

I can't fault people who follow the light that they have, however dim. But I do pray that though my son's light was put under a bushel, that he will never allow anyone to snuff him out for long.

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