You know that moment when your kid opens her mouth, and you hold your breath because you know, deep in your gut you know, that whatever your kiddo is about to say is gonna be either epically profound or epically embarrassing?
Yeah, you know that moment.
About three years ago my daughter, Gemma, and I were leaving Target in Arizona. While walking across the parking lot we both heard a man on his phone. His tense posture, gruff appearance, and loud conversation (which included a very colorful and animated vocabulary) caused me to allow him a wide berth. I weaved around cars in order to get to our vehicle, all the while hoping that the man would not pay us any mind.
So of course he saw us as soon as he hung up.
And of course he had to say something.
"What?!" He screamed at me. "You got a problem with how I talk? Why don't you just say so rather than avoid me like the plague!?"
You know that moment when you have said nothing, and yet a can of proverbial worms has been opened?
Yeah, you know that moment.
"We're just heading to our car, sir." I said quietly, ushering my two year old over to our car and trying desperately to avoid the man.
"That's what I thought!" He yelled at me. "Better keep that pretty little girl away!"
Okay, here's what you need to know about me. You can say whatever you want about me, but as soon as my kids are involved I am a WILD MAMA BEAR. I froze, and turned slowly toward him with deadly calm. And even though I stood a good foot shorter than him, the look I gave him was one of fierce protectiveness. I opened my mouth, ready with words that would make even the foulest of mouths blush when my little Gemma opened her mouth.
"You know, sir, Jesus loves everyone! Even when you are mad, he loves you!" she shouted excitedly to him. And in a blink the entire atmosphere shifted. My mouth was agape, his face softened, his shoulders dropped, and my stiff back relaxed.
Out of the mouths of babes.
My knee-jerk reaction was blowing a bridge and building a wall, while my daughter's was kindness and love. My only thought was hatred and judgment. Hers was calm understanding. I was burdened with hostility. She was burdened with humility.
All I could do was stare.
Then, as if nothing was amiss, Gemma asked me, "Can I have ice cream when we get home?"
Girl, you just put me in my place in a humbling way. You can have the whole box of Klondikes.
The man looked at her, then at me, then at her again before his head swung backward and he began laughing. Like, a full blown belly laugh that was neither contained nor guarded.
My daughter had bridged a gap that was miles wide, with one simple statement.
How often do we judge others and only think of ourselves? How often do we ignore and look the other way when God calls us to reach out? To be His hands and feet?
In the book of Matthew Jesus tells a story of sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus explains that on the day of judgment everyone will be divided before the King, either on His right or His left. Those who know Him (the sheep) will be on His right, and the ones who do not (the goats) will be on His left. Here's what He says:
Out of the mouths of babes...