I climbed the stairs to Nata’s class, thankful that I arrived before the bell. I always want to get those kids and get out of there as soon as possible. As I reached the classroom door three kids tumbled out, “Nata est faché!”
That sinking feeling covered over me. Nata has been angry at school before. It’s never good. Normally, everyone waits inside the class until the bell, but today Nata’s teacher came out to explain. At snack (two hours ago) he threw a fit. Then he got mad and refused to do his work. And then they all started saying something about a bench, but I didn’t really understand. And I peered in, searching the benches for my sweet boy.
“Where is he?”
“He is here. Under the bench.”
I looked down and saw his feet, one shoe untied, protruding from under the red bench. He faced the wall.
She pulled him out. Clearly he had been under there for a long time.
And then I had that moment. As a mother, what should my reaction be? Am I angry? Am I sad? I lifted him into my arms as his tense muscles refused to relax and he hid his face from all the children and adults that gawked at him.
And my heart was filled with empathy for this treasure of a child that I call my own. You see, I know what this feels like. The overwhelming anger that sweeps over you. You follow it into a dark pit and then, when the moment (or in this case hours) pass, you just feel so embarassed that they all see you looking so ugly. You want them to think you are beautiful, but they see the truth: you’re a mess. You want to hide and not come out.
And so I carried him over to a bench outside the class facing away from the others, and for the first time that day we looked into each other’s eyes. Like so many times before.>
We talked about who he is. Who he should honor. And what he needed to do to make things right. He said he couldn’t do it on his own. My heart swelled with love.
“I’ll go with you,” I said with a smile and extended my hand to him. The kids and the teacher were surprised to see us walk back in. We stood at her side, and he looked in her eye and said, “Pardon Maitress. Pardon.”
She explained to him, then, that he is a champion in her class. “Champions don’t act like that,” she stated simply. We all agreed.
As we got into the car and busied ourselves with the business of seat belts and car seats, I asked my little man to sit with me up front (we do these things, here in the wild you see). And as the car rolled on the story spilled out. Nata, who is used to finishing first, lost his title of champion to a friend. Jealousy got a foot hold in his heart when he saw the size of the sticker that Joseph earned.
That’s how it goes with anger and sin. This is a lesson I’m still learning myself. It’s the things that are small that we allow to feel big. They seem to overwhelm us and change our actions and start us down a path until we feel out of control- unable to get back. The truth is, though, that the little thing never MADE us do anything. We chose the anger and the sin. In humility, I have to say that I still have moments like this in my adult life. When I turn my words against those I love and later I don’t even know why I said those things. When I allow jealousy (which is always over something completely trivial) to rule my heart.>
And so we moved on. As we have many times before. And once again I prayed a silent thank you to my father in heaven for all the times he has loved me and shown me grace- that gift that I don’t deserve.
In Ephesians 2 paraphrased by me:
Each of you were stuck in the dark pit of sin because you followed the ugly voice inside your head (which is the devil). This is the voice the world follows when it disobeys the goodness that comes from God. All of us have done this, and we are all deserving of punishment. But- His love came down and rescued us because that’s who God is: he is so RICH in MERCY! That’s why God made us alive in Christ even when we were dead down in that pit of sin. It’s by his grace (a free gift!) that we were saved from the pit of sin. Not only that, but God raised us up and gave us the seat right next to his son Jesus so that in the future we can better understand the riches of his grace given to us through Jesus. We are only saved because we believe in our brother Jesus, and not because of anything else that we do. God gives us this gift so that we can’t brag about how good we are. We are God’s creation, his design created to do good things that He already prepared for us to do.
And so I pray that little by little my Nata can understand God’s riches. Little by little I am too.