Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Tough Questions, and Answers...

From time to time I will be adding snippets about my current life, the poignant events that rest in my heart and mind for a while, as well as the joys and sometimes the frustrations, and especially the questions that I know I don’t have all the answers to.

My son, Jacob, has always hated Halloween; the decorations strung around malls and grocery stores, as well as billboards and road signs, cause him to cringe and sound off in a tirade of tears and objections towards the holiday. Really, I don’t blame him. The costumes and d├ęcor have become more vulgar and sexually suggestive over the years in my opinion anyway…

Recently we were off for our bi-monthly shopping ritual at one of the big warehouse stores. Upon entering, I realized that, at some point, we would be bumping into Dracula, Frankie, and probably some other un-dead things that screamed, glowed, or spewed blood. Sure enough next to the cereal and peanut-butter displays stood the gruesome treasure-trove of mechanized, children's nightmare instigators. Jacob and I assumed our walking formation for just these situations, which is for him to bury his head into my stomach and walk sideways as I guide him away from the displays and on to our next grocery item. After a while this became more of a joke than a means to survive the ordeal, and he relaxed and would only position me in between him and the displays if we had to pass by again. There were kids running around the displays, laughing and screaming as well. I thought maybe this behavior, for whatever reason, relaxed him a little.

We were almost finished with the shopping when Jacob’s attitude changed from slightly annoyed to obviously disturbed. Suddenly he wouldn’t look around at ANYTHING, even though we were out of the danger zone and in the fruits and vegetables aisle. I assured him over and over that we were done with that part of the store, we weren’t going back, and the fruits and vegetables were not going to attack him. None of this worked as he persisted on keeping his eyes closed, hanging onto me and begging to leave the store.

Now, I am sure, that all parents at some time come to the point that my husband and I did, which was no longer tolerating the behavior. We were finally in line, completely on the other side of the store, and despite our best calming efforts Jacob was sobbing. The checker inquired about his condition to which we replied, politely, that he was afraid of the Halloween decorations. My daughter, Audrey, on the other hand, was oblivious to all going on and was busy helping us load the food on to the belt and chatting with people around us. The checker mentioned that many kids had been visibly upset, and even complained that the displays were too mature for young eyes. We made it out to the car, my husband and I trying every tactic we could think of to calm Jacob down, short of treats or punishment.

The rest of the night went without incident, and sometimes when you are moving along in life at a tornado’s pace, you forget that your little ones may still be processing events that took place days ago. As we were all getting ready for bed a couple of nights later, Jacob came up to me with tears in his eyes. “Do you remember when I was scared of that boy at the store?” he asked me. I started thinking about those kids running around, and instantly realized that I had missed something that he had picked up on.

“Well, I didn’t see him.” I said, “but, he is not here now and you will probably never see him again, so if I were you I wouldn’t worry about it.” There! Done.

“No, mom, he was really scary and he looked at me!” OK…now I am lost…is he talking about the displays? I don’t remember a…oooooooh yes…I do…

“You mean that little boy in the cart with his mom?” I asked carefully.

“Yes!” He wailed. Ah…it was becoming clear.

At about the same time we were passing the displays, again, on the other side of me by the displays passed a woman with a child in her cart. This child had an extreme physical disability that even I found a little hard to look at, but all the same this child was making eye-contact with the people around him, which allowed for a glance and a smile. I had not thought much of it since Jacob was already on the other side of me, avoiding the displays, but like many people who are afraid to look at things full-on, he must have been peeking.

“Oh Honey,” I began, “that little boy can’t help the way he looks, that was just how he was born. He wasn’t trying to scare you. I am sure he is a very nice boy. Some people just look different than us, that’s all.”

“But why does he look like that?” He asked me.

“Well, I don’t know. He was just born that way, we can’t decide how we are born or how we look.”

“But why did God make him that way?”

“Well, I believe that things just happen because we live in the world that we live in, I don’t think God made him that way, sin in the world changes everything. (I am not suggesting this is a punishment to the child or his mom/dad. I am just saying that because of The Fall we are all subject to an imperfect world) but He did make him for a purpose, and God looks at our souls, not the outside anyway. That little boy is just as loved and as special as you are.”

“But will God fix him?”

“Well, no, Jacob, not his outside.”

Trying to answer questions like this is not easy, and my last response was not received lightly. Jacob fell into my lap, sobbing into my neck and said, “that is so sad!” I cried too.

From here we talked about how we should be thankful, always, for everything we have, including wholeness in our physical bodies…how we should not question why we look like we do, or don’t look like someone else we admire. We talked about how God is more concerned with the condition of our hearts; God sees the beauty of Christ in us, and we are called to carry that out in our lives by loving and caring for others.

We then compared Jacob’s life to the little boy’s life, taking extreme liberty in our assumptions and speculations, if only to drive the points home. We talked about the possible struggles this little boy had, people always staring at him but not always smiling, the good chance that he would never get to play on a soccer team, and even if he could the challenges he would face in being accepted. How every new person he encounters offers almost the same reaction of shock and silence, or fear or ridicule. How it is very possible that this little boy has only a handful of people in his life that look upon him like he is the most beautiful person on the planet, and embrace him. We talked about how it must feel to see other kids, and wish that he could just have a day where he wasn’t reminded of what he saw in the mirror. We also talked about how much of a burden that could be for such a little child, who really cannot control anything in his life yet.

That’s when I realized, this is just too much of a burden for Jacob to have right now as well, and the only way he knew how to control it was to cry. The only thing I knew I was saying right was that Christ loves us all, and takes us just the way we are, if we accept him.

At the end of our conversation, he seemed much better. He was relieved to know that the boy’s condition had nothing to do with how God viewed him, and that once that little boy met God his spirit would be perfect. For many days after Jacob declared how thankful he was for the way that God made him and that one day he would be in heaven, perfect.

Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these”. NIV


Cassoulet Cafe said...

Yes, very tough questions. I love the scripture that says "with evil things God cannot be tried", giving us proof that God would never purposely cause bad things to happen to people. Very comforting.
Something that is also comforting is that God will fix all imperfection and problems (even getting rid of death!) at his appointed time. Then, as Revelation 21:4 says, there won't be any cause for tears, pain or mourning.
Great post!

Insanitykim said...

Thank you CC! Thank you for the verses too! We all need a lot of comfort!!

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