The kids and I went to Chick-fil-A yesterday for lunch. While we were there, David discovered the pure joy of Chick-fil-A sauce. If you haven’t tried it, you must! I am a ketchup fanatic, but the only condiment I dip my chicken nuggets into is Chick-fil-A sauce. At first, David just started licking the sauce off his nuggets. Thankfully, he eventually ate the nuggets too. But when his nuggets were done, he picked up a spoon so he could keep eating the sauce haha. Anyway, I digress…
Yesterday was the first day David played in the play place at Chick-fil-A. Previously, he never expressed interest, but yesterday, he kept pointing at the cool car they have in there. He was very excited when I asked him if he wanted to go play. He got right up and walked over. I stayed with Brooke at the table and watched him through the big glass windows. Boy, was he happy! He had such a smile on his face. I watched him try and talk to other kids. They were a little older and David is still working on his words, so I doubt they understood what he was saying.
About ten minutes in, I saw some kids talking and laughing with David. Then they started to jokingly push him and hit him. I imagine these kids have siblings they wrestle with at home. I don’t think they were intentionally trying to be mean (although I’m not sure), but I also don’t think it was appropriate behavior (neither did one of their parents who got up and scolded them). I picked up David and brought him back to our booth. I gave him a hug, told him I loved him, and explained that those kids made a poor choice (a “no-no” in David language) and that we don’t hit or push. I explained that sometimes people around us make choices that can hurt us and that I was happy he didn’t push or hit the kids.
I think David was in shock when it happened. He doesn’t have any older siblings or cousins that he plays with, and the nursery at our church we go to each Sunday only has two sweet little girls around David’s age. He’s not used to being around older kids, and by older kids, I mean like 4/5-year-olds. David also is very kind and aware of others’ feelings. I’ve observed this in the way he interacts with other little kids at library story time. He’s very gentle in all his interactions with others.
After a few minutes of David sitting on my lap, I asked him if he wanted to go back and play. He very gently said “no.” It kind of broke my heart a little. He had been so excited to go play. I texted John and he too expressed disappointment this happened to David. But we both agreed that this is a lesson life will teach us over and over again. We can’t control other people’s choices and sometimes people make poor choices. All we can control is how we respond.
The sadness I felt in my heart after this incident made me think about the love our Heavenly Father has for each of us. He knows that people around us are going to make poor choices (and sometimes we’re going to be those people). How amazing is it that he provided His Son to not only suffer for our sins but to suffer all the pains and afflictions will we ever face in this life so that He can comfort us and heal our broken hearts. My favorite picture of Jesus Christ is entitled “The Gentle Healer.”
While I felt bad for David, I felt grateful to be reminded of a loving Heavenly Father who is aware of all our struggles, who aches with us when we aches, and who watches us with love. Since we are currently separated from God’s immediate presence, He’s not able to pick us up, put us on His lap, and tell us He loves us. While sometimes I think it would be really great if He could, I realize we are here on earth for a reason. And the greatest gift of love He could ever give us, He did. And that gift is Jesus Christ, His only begotten and beloved Son, the gentle Healer.