As my son molds into the person he was created to be, I am increasingly amazed by his intelligence, his compassion, his faith. As each day passes, I know him more deeply and experience more joy from his presence in my life! More than this, I’m starting to recognize that my son is a far better human than I am!
When I am angry with someone or sad, or afraid that someone is mad at me, I avoid. On the empathy scale, I’m a zero – maybe a one on a good day. Why do I do this? Why do I avoid conflict? My son – at only 7-years-old – handles things differently.
Our Thursday nights have become crazy. We run from work and school to dance class to swimming lessons, then home to get ready for bed. Last week my daughter’s dinner was popcorn in the car in between events. (Seriously – why do we do this to ourselves?!?)
On this particular Thursday, we made it home and it was late. We were all tired, and I was ready for the kids to be in bed! My 7-year-old and I had a discussion as we hurried through the bedtime routine. Did I say discussion? It was actually an argument. A silly argument, really. He wanted to take his shower in the basement, and I asked him to take his shower upstairs. (Oh, the drama!) He kept trying to reason with me. But I just needed him to do what I had asked without putting up a fight! So I firmly and loudly said (OK – yelled) “I do not want to talk about this anymore. Go take your shower!”
I assumed he would get ready for bed and we wouldn’t talk much about it. (Remember – I avoid??) But as soon as he could, he sought me out! My young son stood before me with those big brown eyes glistening and asked if we could cuddle – he explained he likes to cuddle with the person he is upset with…
This just floored me. I immediately realized that my 7-year-old is more mature than I am when it comes to reconciliation and forgiveness!
At a retreat I recently attended, we considered the sense of touch – in our relationship with God and with one another. We were asked to close our eyes and imagine we could touch Jesus’ face. I obliged. I closed my eyes, pictured Jesus standing in front of me. I began to lift my hand towards the face of God – but within my imagination I hesitated. Will he recoil at my touch? Will he know the wrongs in my heart and mind and turn away, unwilling to be dirtied by my hand upon his cheek?!
As parent to my 2 young children I will at times become so angry that I need to get away from them. I fall back into my natural reaction to avoid. But when they lift their arms to me in love – or like my dear son ask to cuddle – I accept them willingly! Their touch releases anger!! Love is more powerful than any anger or resentment we hold onto – and touch is the simplest form of love!
We of course can’t literally touch the face of God – though if we could I KNOW God would not recoil. But we can both share with and receive from others God’s love through touch! What an amazing gift!
And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. Mark 10:13-16