I buckled his seat belt, I kissed his check then the sweet spot on the back of his neck and told him I love him. He said he loves me too while distractedly drawing on his new pad of paper with a green gel pen, I was not his focus. Onto the other side of the car to kiss Sweetness goodbye, usually I do this first, he gets the last kiss but today was just out of order, I didn’t give it a second thought as I walked away from the car. Almost there, I heard Mama’s call, “Come Back, Plum is crying!” He was sobbing, wailing, so quickly things had turned. Rushing back I found a very jealous child, one who no longer remembered our “goodbye exchange,” who no longer remembered all the times I told him he is my favorite, including earlier that morning, a child who thought this new baby had taken his place in my heart. His heart was the color of the gel pen, his eyes could only see green.
More kisses, tender listening to all of his fears, a reminder that he will always be my favorite best big boy. Like the cracker crumbs from snacks eaten while he rides, my words and affection mostly all fell on the seat around him, mostly never reaching inside of him for nourishment, to fill his hunger. The damage was done. Too tired, too emotional to hear what I tried to explain to him, that God makes our hearts expand when we add in more people to our lives, we don’t have to share limited space, he could only accept more kisses and strike out in his hurt. He is sure that this new baby sister has taken what was his for 6 years and he is wondering what is left. As adults we can smile knowingly, shaking our heads and assure each other that he will grow out of this phase, but I wonder. I wonder if any of us ever really do. Maybe we grow to understand that our siblings are not our enemies, but do we ever fully grasp that the same equation that allows the hearts of our parents to expand is the same for our God?
The meat of it all is the jealousy, the insecurity that we feel when we think someone has more than us, has a better pathway in than us, got the last kiss, that is what troubles us and causes the flailing about, the striking out, the competition for attention. Yet if we were sure that our kiss even if it was the one that came about way before the door closed was meant just for us, held all of the love and joy and power of our God, would it really matter what anyone else received? If we rested in the glory of the sunrise and knew that was our God telling us we are His favorite, wouldn’t that be enough? Would we have the need to fight over blocks and Lego and new cars and territory if we understood that we can sit secure in the expansive love of our Father, we do not have to compete?
We teach children to share by modeling sharing: here honey, I have an apple that I am cutting into 4 pieces, one for you, one of me, one for you, one for me. That is a wonderful exercise but only works when we begin with the willingness to share the apple. What if we begin with a piece of chocolate cake? Umm… maybe you should get your own, right, this looks really tasty and I actually would like to have it all. Maybe I can be generous enough to give a taste but there will be no splitting this delicacy into 4 pieces. So modeling sharing works in controlled circumstances but do we actually model it without such exaggerated awareness? Most mom’s are bad at this, we don’t share. We give the kids the whole apple, the last apple. I remember one conversation with Arrow when he hit his late tweens, early teens and began to see me as more than a mom. He asked if I really like only the toast edges that he and his sister left behind, if I truly prefer just the burnt pieces of popcorn. Of course I didn’t always want those, what I came to prefer when my children came along is that they have the best pieces and parts and choices and I would always accept the scraps, if there were any. Thus I missed that opportunity to model sharing with me, that I was worthy of a piece of the apple as well. A mother who will sacrifice all for her children is easily sacrificed, I have learned. I taught them I was less than them. They have graduate degrees in this philosophy now. But I digress.
Do our rights as Christians mean we have to protect our turf? Are we obligated to ensure that the pews never get too full, that we always get the last kiss and don’t allow someone who is not in our family to join in and displace us? This fear of others is our insecurity about whether or not God can love us all, that His love is so big and can get bigger to include more and more and we will not feel less. Maybe Mom didn’t provide for us, Dad never said the actual words, we didn’t feel that love in our homes of origin, we just keep grabbing onto more and more than is our share, trying to make up the lack, taking extra portions and never getting full. We can’t get filled when we feed off of other’s portions, we spread hurt. Insecure adults who say no you can’t worship here, you can’t live here, you can’t go to school here, I need this space.
In truth, God’s orchard is limitless, He never runs out of apple slices. If we understand the idea of an expanding heart rather than a dividing one, oh the rest, the peace! No longer competing, rather we savor the kiss we got and notice not the one that came before us to our neighbor or the one that came after to our new baby sister or the LGBTQ teenager who is loving differently than us. Love everywhere, big bigger expansive. Soon our apples look like too much for us to eat alone, we notice the juice is sweeter when we see it running down the chin of a hungry child. So what does it take to become so secure in our Father’s love, to trust completely in His expansive heart that our insecurity vanishes? I think the key is to no longer look back to what was, to not spend time in what we want for the future. This moment, this apple, right now. We have a choice to know and to seek out whether we are enough, we have enough, right now. Absolutely in this very moment, was this kiss meant for me? Staying with that one, hearing God whisper that I am His favorite, this can fill me up, millions of granules of sand pouring into all the cracks and broken places, filling me with God’s wholeness.
Becoming whole in God’s love is the ultimate healing of the broken love we inflict on each other, erases the worry about toast edges teaching the wrong lessons and who to kiss goodbye last. Knowing we are going to mess up and hurt each other and others are going to miss that we wanted an apple slice also, we have to turn to the only source of complete love. Poof, just for a moment, calm restored. The next moment is coming though, what will we do with that? Can we allow room for others, can we accept the second to last kiss? I pray we stay right is this place, where the apples are sweet and juicy and God is serving us all. Getting there and staying there are hard work, certainly not any more difficult than battling over who can pray with us. Let’s just share our apples, friends, and our pews and our hearts. Let the only green we see be that of the orchard. And of course, gel pens. Green gel pens are our favorites.