Monday, May 27, 2013

When Minds of Children Stop us Short

I had retired to the basement to enjoy a dinner of popcorn and a glass of red while catching up on a show my dear husband doesn't like.

Scott was continuing work on a major project in the garage. We've talked about building a storage shelf above the garage door for years. After talking all weekend about when to start, Scott decided to take the plunge and headed to the hardware store in the late morning today. He has not surfaced since he started with his trusty helper Lucas at his side.

I am thankful we will soon have more storage.

Anyway, I was enjoying my show and a bit of alone time when I heard sniffles from the stairs. There stood Lucas in his post-bath pajamas, tears streaming down his face, body wracked with sobs.

This child ... he is SO much. Lucas experiences life minus the inhibitions and structures that keep the rest of us safe. To him, everything is urgent, everything is possible, and his perceptions are reality.

His first words shook me to my core ...

"I'm afraid Daddy got too hot in the attic and fell asleep and died."

What do you say to a child who believes with every fiber of his being that because he came inside and went to bed, his daddy may be in danger?

In the last few weeks, I have found myself wondering how I will survive summer again this year. With the level of responsibility Lucas feels for keeping his father safe, you can only imagine how he takes responsibility for the behavior of his siblings as if he, himself, will get in trouble if they misbehave.

My heart breaking, I walked my almost shoulder-height six-year-old-finishing-first-grade up the basement stairs and into the garage to see with his own eyes Daddy is just fine.

Even that was not enough. Despite his father being covered in sawdust and soaked with sweat, Lucas stretched out his arms and demanded a hug. Daddy, in his Lucas-whispering ways was able to make a kiss suffice, with the caveat that he would come in and give Lucas a hug once he had showered.

My little doubting Thomas. He needs to feel the flesh of his father to know that he is, in fact, okay. To wrap arms around his middle and squeeze him tight and be sure that when he wakes tomorrow, Daddy will still be there.

And I wish I could take it all away from him. This responsibility he feels for everyone around him. This need to understand and explain everything he encounters.

Yet I know he will experience a beauty in life I cannot comprehend.

I guess that is the bittersweet reality of perception. When we feel pain and fear and sadness and all those things that can bring you to your knees with such intensity, we also have the capacity to experience happiness with an intensity most can never understand.

This child has been given a sweet, sweet gift.

One who is able to experience such immense joy is also capable of a gut-wrenching sorrow.

Just like our futile attempts to reconcile an all-powerful God with a reality in which bad things continue to happen without regard for "good" or "bad" people, my little boy cannot escape the euphoric joy he experiences when things go his way or the devastating sorrow of his disappointments.

Yet I can't help but wonder ... isn't that the only fair way?

How torturous would it be to experience the depths of despair but be completely unable to experience the heights of joy?

How could we comprehend the true magnitude of a gracious, loving God if we had never experienced the disappointment of judgement despite our best intentions?