Something profound happened tonight. Profound in the world of raising a four year old. I feel the need to share because it is something I will never forget.
Brandy has been going to vacation bible school this week. She missed the first day of it because, quite frankly, I forgot. After a slight four-year-old meltdown, I found out the schedule for the rest of the week and decided to let her attend. She loved Tuesday night and was excited to go tonight (Wednesday).
Tonight, the "lesson" they learned was that even though we do wrong/bad things, Jesus still loves us. To a four year old, that's a big deal. Their little minds are so busy processing good vs. bad and asking things like "Mommy, do you still love me even if I (fill in the blank)?", so this is a good subject to talk about.
Let's start with supper...they feed the kids a light meal before starting the program. Tonight (Wednesday) was spaghetti. My child quickly informed them that the spaghetti they served was "not like we have at home". They gave her some goldfish and watermelon as a substitute. Then, after some song and dance, they were off to their classrooms for their lessons.
The classes (grouped by age) all return at around 8:00 PM to listen to another story, do a group activity, then conclude the evening. By this time, my child comes up to me and says she is "starving". I encouraged her to return to her group since there was only 30 minutes left. That did not work. She is Scott's child too, ya know! I tried to share some grapes I had in my bag with her. Nope. Long story straight, the preacher himself left the soundboard to go find Brandy a snack. More goldfish and a second brownie. (They had just had brownies for an evening snack...)
Brandy climbed up in a chair and started nibbling.
Meanwhile, as you know, the show must go on...the bible school leader, Ms. Melody starts the groups on a special activity. Each group of children sat in a circle and the group leaders held open a big black trash bag. Up on the stage, in front of the children, was a beautiful cross, all lit up with tube lights.
Ms. Melody instructed the children to think of something bad or wrong that they had done (or said) and to "throw it away" in the big trash bags. Maybe they had been ugly to a friend. Or not listened to Mom or Dad. Whatever it was, they just had to think of it, then throw it away.
They turned down the lights, and when the children were done, the group leaders took the trash bags and draped them on the cross. Then a guy dressed as Jesus entered the room (lights still down, somber music playing) and proceeded to clear off the cross, essentially washing away the sins or "bad stuff" that had been confessed or "given" to Him.
MEANWHILE... Brandy is in her chair, munching, when all of a sudden she starts crying. She comes up to me and tells me that she didn't get to throw her bad stuff away. She said she was "left out". I gently told her to go up and put something in one of the trash bags. She was afraid to go alone and asked me to go with her, so there we went...
The kids and leaders are all still singing, the lights are still down low and here we go, Brandy Mae and Mommy, hand in hand, walking down the center of the room up to the stage. We get to the cross and she refuses to do anything. So we turn around and start walking back to our chair and she starts wailing. Ms. Melody, who is trying to start talking to the groups, gives me a pity look as I am trying to coax my inconsolable child back to either her group or the car at that point. I was torn between feeling so bad for her and trying to keep her from disrupting the entire program. Sooo, she is still bawling and I am about to cry for her because her little heart is just broken. She told me that she was "full of bad things" and that she "did not get to throw them away" and it was "too late because Jesus already left". One of her group leaders stepped in and held her and talked to her for a while. At this point, I was feeling pretty helpless anyways.
A few minutes later, it was time to go and Brandy was still boo hooing. We got in the car and I tried to convince her to "throw the bad things out the car window". I tried. I "threw" one of mine out to show her, but she said it would not work. She was pretty torn up all the way home. Longggg drive, by-the-way. I told her that He knows what's in our hearts. The next thing she said to me made time stand still...
"Mommy, I need to tell you something."
"I did not really believe in Jesus until tonight when he showed up and I could really see him."
(then she started bawling again because she "still had bad things to throw away".)
I tried the "out the window" thing again to no avail.
As we continued to head down the road, I saw the big, lit up cross in the church parking lot at the end of our street. If anyone had been sitting at the stop sign there, I probably would have plowed into them because I literally swung my Pontiac into the church parking lot. I threw the car into park, and turned to face my sweet girl.
I said "do you see that cross?" ("Yes") "Do you want to throw away your bad stuff there, at that big cross?" ("Yes") "Then let's go."
We got out of the car and walked up to that big, simple, beautiful white cross. I have never felt so small and humble in my life as I did as I stood there in the dark, next to my child, who bowed her head and said "Please Jesus, take away my bad stuff. Please."
I repeated her simple plea. Then I said "do you think we should say Amen?". So we did, and then we walked back to the car.
We drove down our road silently and when we got to the driveway, I asked her if she felt better.
That simple "Yes." was all I needed to hear.
I am pretty sure I saw Jesus tonight too.