I am not typically in the nursery. I am on a rotation with a couple others for teaching the first and second graders at church, so my experience with the group of newborn- three-year-olds has been limited. But I was there that day.
Whoever claimed that all people are inherently good and pure has probably never volunteered for nursery. Or had kids. The things, the atrocities that are taking place before your very eyes just doesn’t support the idea. Pushing, grabbing, screaming, glaring, hitting, whining- this is nursery. This is what pours forth from the cutest little people before they learn to behave otherwise.
My daughter was in the room, off to the side with a light pink plastic teapot. She had her little teacup in the other hand and the tea was a constant flow. Every three seconds a refill.
One of the younger lads noticed how much fun that looked. And can we blame him? I mean, imaginary tea coming out of a teapot, the opportunity to fine-tune motor skills and show the nursery that you too can pour air without spilling it. It’s all just too tempting.
He struggled to his feet and made his way over. It’s amazing the confidence that toddlers have. Really it is. How often do we as adults stay seated and watch from a distance? But nope. Not this guy. Not today. He strode across the room, back straight, comb-over on par, diaper swishing behind him.
He couldn’t voice the words, but we all knew what he was thinking. “Excuse me ma’am, but I believe you’ve enjoyed this teapot long enough. It’s probably my turn now.” He grabbed hold of the spout and gave it a good tug.
And that’s when I saw my daughter smile sweetly and explain that she would be sure to give him a turn.
Her face snarled. She had a good grip on the handle and she pulled it right back. And then? She took that dainty pink teapot and she slammed it down on his head. Bam! And again. Bam! Bam! It was an equal mix of anger and fear keeping that hand steady, like a practiced builder on a stubborn nail. Bam! Bam!
The poor boy’s face, so confident of his plans only moments before, was filled with confusion and dismay, as the teapot that he was supposed to be playing with was now clunking atop his head.
Finally I reached them and immediately whisked my toddler away for discipline. She explained, in between loud salty cries, that he grabbed. He grabbed! The injustice done to her was all she could see. The slamming of the teapot upon his head? That was perfectly excusable. That was her right.
But it wasn’t. A wrong is a wrong no matter what wrongs have been done to her. Being wronged doesn’t ever making doing wrong “a right.” That’s a truth for all of us.
As her mother, my eyes are on her. I am concerned with her character, her actions, and her discipline when she needs it, more so than other kids who have their own mothers doing the same for them.
This little teapot story came up at Bible study last night, and it had me thinking this morning, my Father is like that. He cares for me. His eyes are on me. He is concerned with refining my character and actions, and He disciplines when He needs to because He loves. The same is true for you.
He sees all the wrongs done; He won’t let them slide.
“Vengeance is Mine, I will repay says the Lord.” Romans 12:19
“Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
He’s so capable. We reach for our plastic teapots, but they clunk shallowly. And all the while, fear and anger take over our own hearts and we hurt ourselves. He can do this all so much better than we can.
I bent down to look in her eyes and wipe her cheeks. “That was wrong for him to grab honey. But you know what you should do next time? Say ‘Mommy, can you help us please?’ And then I will come and help you guys take turns. I will help you handle it. If you choose to hit, then you will need to be disciplined because that’s wrong too.”
God says the same thing. Rather than reach for your weapon of choice, whether that be words or the cold shoulder or thoughts of bitterness towards the person who wronged you, cry out for help to a Father who cares. Trust Him to handle your wrong-doer. Surrender, release.
Hurt people hurt people. Adjective, noun, verb, noun. Hurt people who refuse God’s healing, will in turn hurt other people. And then, like my two-year-old, you quickly go from victim to perpetrator. It’s the cycle of the sin nature.
But oh the hope, we are not chained to this. We can choose life. We can choose forgiveness and release of vengeance. And in so doing, we can spare ourselves from acting out a whole list of wrongs. A wrong is a wrong always. Set the teapot down.
Let it go.
And today? Choose grace. Receive joy.