Sometimes I fear Sammy, my five year old, doesn’t have a heart. He’s just not a sensitive child. Well, I should clarify. He’s actually very sensitive…about himself. He’s mostly outgrown it now, but if someone just told him “no,” as in “no, honey, don’t touch that,” he would cower in the corner for half an hour. I learned to be quite accommodating in choosing my words with my little egg-shelled child, but obviously you can’t control everyone around him. And he did a lot of cowering.
But when it comes to other people’s feelings he has not been a sensitive child. Historically, he has not expressed much in the way of empathy, or more accurately any degree of empathy. And this is notable to me in part because my eldest son was, and mostly is, the most emotionally mature, empathetic child I’ve ever met. But Sammy I’ve wondered about. The yellow brick road appeared to be in our future!
But alas I’ve seen a speck of hope, more than a speck even. Last week at Nate’s baseball game Sammy was scootering around. He left his scooter on the ground and I was actually standing on it, talking to my friend, when a tiny little guy — I’m guessing three years old — came up and asked to use the scooter. I didn’t know him and I didn’t see his parents so I said, “Well, buddy, I don’t have a helmet for you, so maybe that’s not a good idea.”
The child asked again and I repeated my concern. The scooter is a full size Razor which requires balance, and I really didn’t want this child to get hurt.
Nothing was said about this interaction at the time, but about fifteen minutes after going to bed, Sammy appeared in the kitchen, clearly upset.
“What’s wrong, Sammy?”
“That little boy wanted to use my scooter and I thought you were going to say ‘yes,’ but you said ‘no,'” Sammy said, and burst into tears. He was downright sobbing as I tried to explain that I didn’t want that little guy to get hurt.
After a few minutes, I was able to get him back to bed, but that was not the end of it. The next day, Sammy was playing with his cars, fully utilizing all his character voices, but then he got quiet.
He came over to me, looking grave and said, “I want to talk about that terrible thing. That little boy wanted to use my scooter, but you said ‘no.’ You are supposed to share. He didn’t bring a scooter.” You know how emotions can be so high that your facial expressions get out of whack? Well, Sammy’s grief stricken little mouth was acting all weird on him. Sweet. Pitiful. And a bit odd. But also encouraging. Sammy has a heart!
Ezekiel writes that the Lord “will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (36:26). And if we are honest we are all like this. We can all become hardened to the emotional and physical needs of others. We can all march through our day thinking about how things are impacting us — it’s kind of our natural state, our default mode. But the truth of the Bible transforms, the love of Jesus changes us. All we have to do is to pursue Him and His truth. No curtain. No smoke. No wizard.
Just the Mighty Creator of the Universe who Loves YOU and me like CRAZY and wants to soften our hearts into His own.