One thing I love most about children is that they don’t usually mind saying what they’re thinking deep inside. At least they don’t mind until we teach them to filter. Or hide thoughts that might embarrass themselves or us.
As I was writing this week’s post for the Godly Play page today, I remembered a particular unfiltered comment from a child a few years ago. We had just shared the same sacred story about the people who bring their paralyzed friend to see Jesus, but the house where he is teaching is too crowded. So they take their friend up to the roof, peel back some tiles and lower him down in front of Jesus, who heals him. I still remember the child’s honest response about the story. I saved the memory in my heart as a treasure, even though it was a little painful to hear.
After the story was told, the teacher asked wondering questions to help the children think about the story and work out where they fit in it and how it relates to their own lives. We usually start with very easy to answer questions and then work deeper.
I wonder what part of the story you like best.
Everyone’s hand goes up. The children love the Lincoln log house, they love removing the Popsicle stick roof and looking inside, they love the stretcher and they love that Jesus healed him. They love that the friends wouldn’t let a roof or a crowd stand in the way of their friend’s need to walk. And have I said how much they really love that Lincoln log house?
Then the teacher moves to the next question, which is almost as fun to answer. I wonder how the paralyzed man felt when his friends told him that they would take him to see Jesus.
What would you expect them to say?
Excited because he wants to walk!
Happy that he has friends that care!
Wondering how they will get through the crowds.
Happy that he will meet Jesus who’ll fix his legs.
No, this child had a different perspective.
“I’d be afraid,” the child said. “What if they go to all that trouble, and it doesn’t work? What if Jesus can heal everybody else, but it doesn’t work with me?”
Oh, child. I’ve felt that too.
Have you ever felt that? Wondered if you bring some secret ugliness or shame or otherness that is beyond fixing or saving or loving?
Bless this child for voicing it so that we can talk about it. We can share the message that NO ONE CAN BRING ANYTHING OR DREAM UP ANYTHING OR BE ANYTHING THAT GOD CANNOT LOVE OR HEAL. No one.
You are loved, child, exactly as you are! Don’t be afraid! It’s the TRUTH.
I’m so thankful that I have children around to remind me and teach me.
And I’m also glad that they bring me artwork, like my friend Jack did a few years ago. Isn’t his illustration of the story incredible?! He’s an artist. It’s an aerial view of the rooftop. We even get to peek in the house!
Love and peace to you,