a little empathy

Today I’m grateful for a couple of things. First is our tree. For one glorious day it was lovely. Until I forgot to plug the lights into the converter the next day and they blew out within minutes. However, all is not lost. We have more lights coming, so I am encouraged that I have not, in fact, ruined Christmas.

Secondly, I have to mention the conversation I just had with our oldest. At seven, he can sometimes get a little cheeky and whiny about having to anything that isn’t entertaining. Like today, when I told him to practice his lines for his part in the church Christmas play coming up and I got a whole lot of whining.

But later on, he surprised me.

While I was in the kitchen doing dishes and trying to tidy up after having dinner guests last night, he came in with tears in his eyes and hugged me around the waist. He told me he felt bad that I had to clean all the time while he and everyone else just got to play or rest. He didn’t think it was fair and wanted to know what he could do to help.

I smiled on the inside and outside. Then I quickly gave him a job of rinsing dishes, which he did gladly. He also helped me hang out the laundry with a servant attitude and no sass. What a great kid!

I told him that I hope he is always like that– a soft heart that looks to meet the needs of others. Kids (and adults) need to experience empathy. I think any time this idea can be fostered, parents need to do so. I need to do so and there are plenty of opportunities.

It reminds me of the passage in Mark 12 where Jesus says to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Love God. Love others. It’s that simple and yet so difficult. I hope that, if I teach them nothing else, all of our children grow up to do those two things well. And I’m encouraged by moments like today that give me a glimpse into a little hearts. That maybe, in spite of all my parental failures, some things are getting through and will stick for the rest of their lives. At least I hope so.

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