There was little time for the weekly stand-around-and-chat session after church. It was Easter service and the children’s pastor had planned and epic Easter Egg hunt between services. Every child at service got a bag of candy, too. She picked out each piece carefully, so she knew she could eat it with her braces. She picked out others specific to what she knew her family liked to eat. As soon as she saw her step-brother, she forgot about herself and gave him the whole bag.
And then time came for the hunt at Cornerstone…Pastor Joe counted down.
She’s there in pink, orange, blue, neon yellow dress, complete with pigtails and her Tinkerbell Easter basket.
The children lined up across the field. Their weight of anticipation bent the marking tape protecting the egg field. The children ages from just barely walking to 12-years-old waited, plotted and planned their attack routes. Allyson sought out the golden egg. She’d seen the prizes–one was the exact same bowling set her brother had looked at Saturday at Mardel’s and wanted for our family.
She had the determination to get the golden egg and win a prize.
And she did.
She got the egg; she picked the bowling set.
“This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” 1 John 4:10
The hunt was over, prize won, and we loaded up with their overflowing baskets of plastic orbs. We followed our scheduled activities: having a meal together, playing at the park, and feeding the ducks and the geese.
But something was upsetting her. It seemed we were always walking on egg shells, it was the attitude and arguing taking over our lives again.
Every single one of the 100 eggs she and her brother gathered had candy she couldn’t eat with her braces. She keeps them in–her emotions and anxieties. The despair over having given up the only candy she could have is held inside by our 10-year-old. And watching her brothers eat a couple of pieces of the sticky stuff, built up. When we got home, it happened. We had already expressed in many ways she could have candy when we arrived home. It would be hard for any kiddo. She had waited all afternoon, but she couldn’t wait any longer.
She sneaked an Easter egg from the hunt (filled with the candy she couldn’t have) into her room and got caught. Then she lied about it.
Melting down ensued. Crying, screaming, huge tears. But she couldn’t articulate, she couldn’t pinpoint the emotion to express. She cannot pinpoint the way to react and ask for help. We’ve been working on not lying and what it means to deceive. But the biggest and most important hurdle is discovering the heart attitude motivating the behavior.
It took chipping away at the small things to get to the heart (excuse the pun) of what made her lie and deceive. What was making her believe she wasn’t lying and deceiving us? (This is incredibly difficult, time consuming, life consuming in the moment when you have a child who has language concerns.) It was worth it. It was worth every loud, sad, angry, frustrating, curious second to find out what was motivating her behavior and what had made her grouchy for much of our afternoon out.
In her sacrificial love for her older brother and family, she had given much for a 10-year-old and was disappointed to find that the candy she had kept from her Easter eggs was 100% off limits for a girl with braces. She felt anger, regret, sadness, conflict, because in her heart she knew what she did was kind, true and loving.
She modeled the love of our God who gave his ONLY son (mamas who have dealt with the loss of a child or fertility know the weightiness of the word, only). Sacrificial, true love. She displayed love that doesn’t see the flaws of a fallen world, but sees the object of its affection as whole, pure, and desirable. Just like God. Just like Jesus.
Thank you, Allyson for modeling sacrifice and resurrection today and every day. We love you.
“And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:2