30 October 2013

grace like a child

This morning I took my girls for pancakes. It was raining and we were rushing so that Eleri could get to school on time. Lowri was squirming all over the place and in the seven minutes it took to drive from our house to the restaurant, Eleri had asked about nine billion questions. As I was unbuckling the girls from the car, I was already regretting the decision to go out for breakfast.

As I was trying to wrangle a fussy toddler, my purse, a sippy cup of spilling milk and a four year old who insisted on jumping in every single puddle as we crossed the street, we saw him. A worker who was struggling to carry in a box overflowing with cups. Two other people walked by him and straight into the restaurant. There was no way this man could carry the box and open the door at the same time. We could have easily walked in without holding the door for him, we will just far enough in front of him. But he was there. In the rain. And everyone saw him, but no one wanted to wait.

Except Eleri.

"Mommy, that man needs help. We have lots of stuff in our hands, but he has more. He needs us to wait and help him. I will open the door for him." So we waited, and she held the door open and then helped the man with the cups that he dropped. He answered with a "gracias" and my precious little girl answered back "gracias" He smiled, I smiled and then Eleri said something so profound. "Mommy, I said thank you in Spanish because that man speaks Spanish. and everyone likes to have people help them just where they are. He didn't speak English so I spoke his language because I thought he would like that." She talked a bit more about helping and then finished off her conversation with part of the family motto "Team Williams is nice to everyone"

I was fighting back tears. My four year old has grasped a concept that is still beyond a lot of adults I know. Often even beyond me. She saw a need and met it, on the same level of the person who had the need. just where he was
It didn't matter that he was a worker, or that it was raining, or that it meant she had to wait a bit for what she wanted. It didn't matter that he didn't speak English or look like her. She met him just where he was.

Sure, it was only a 2 minute encounter with a man carrying cups. But the message is so much more than that. Everyone is different. Everyone screws up, everyone needs help, and everyone wants someone to just see them for who they are. To come and meet them exactly as they are. Not expecting a change, not demanding they do this or that to fit into a particular image or expectation. Everyone wants, and deserves, acceptance based simply on who they are at that very moment.

Eleri likes to help. That is a part of her, so deeply ingrained into who she is that sometimes we actually have to pull her away from 'helping' activities. She is compassionate and tenderhearted. I have no doubt that she just wanted to help because 'Team Williams is nice to everyone' (I hear that about a million times a day) But what she did was show the love of Jesus. Her actions spoke clearly that everyone is important, everyone matters. She met that man exactly where is was, speaking his language, to make him feel the "most happy" as she said. I believe it worked. I believe that man felt a little bit of Jesus' love and grace this morning. He may not recognise it as that, yet that is exactly what it was.

Jesus said "Let the little children come to me, do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are like these children" (Matthew 19:14) A childlike innocence. A purity and acceptance that many adults do not have. Moments after we came into the restaurant, I overheard another couple talking about how 'this is America and if people want to come here then they need to learn OUR language and not speak this other crap'. I hugged my precious one a little tighter as they discussed this because she saw beyond language gaps and nationality. She looked at the heart, the person. It was a good reminder to my old, tired, calloused heart to give grace regardless of the situation. People are people and every single person is made in the image of God. They should be treated as the valuable creations that they are.

I hope that my little one continues to love and offer grace and acceptance regardless of the situation. I pray that as Lowri grows, she can follow in the footsteps of her older sister. I really hope that I too can remember the words of my four year old and simply love and meet people just where they are. I am so grateful for the precious spirit of Eleri. What a little glimpse of God's heart she really is.