Out of the mouths of babes – A lesson in forgiveness
When racism reared its ugly head at us, my 5-year-old son knew the best way to handle it.
“Dear God, please give the boy another chance …”
I slammed back to reality. I looked around and wondered if I’d heard right. My little boy, all of age five, was on his knees praying confidently to someone he knew would hear him. His words were intense, yet trusting. He quietly looked around when he was done. Then got up and said, “Mom, can I have a popsicle?”
I was still reeling from what had just happened. Struggling to make sense of it all. And he had quietly moved on.
A frightening experience
It had all happened only about an hour ago. We were heading back to our van after a class picnic for my oldest son. Our van was all the way down the long line of cars. We were looking down, concentrating on side-stepping cracks in the ancient sidewalk and circling around knee length weeds when we heard the abrupt screech of tires of a large truck going in the opposite direction. Everyone’s head jerked up reflexively.
What happened next was nothing any of us had anticipated. The driver, who looked like he was in his late teens, rolled down his window and screamed profanities at us! He screamed at us to “go back to where we came from,” and then threw in a few more loud phrases in a language we didn’t understand, while gesturing threateningly at us all the while.
It was mid-afternoon and the street was deserted and a quick scan of our surroundings told me that no help was near. I threw up a quick prayer and we booked it for our van. I heard the truck start up again and my heart was pounding. I didn’t know if he was turning around to come back. The kids were distraught. “Why was he screaming at us mom?” “What was he saying?” “Call daddy!” – the suggestions came hurling down the front as I struggled to maneuver out of our tight parking spot.
Dealing with it
What had just happened? What was I going to say to them? How would I explain to them that we had been abused just because of our skin color? Would this affect their school year? Would we need to switch schools? What if they got nightmares? What if the driver came back and tried to harm them when they were leaving school another day?
Racism had once again reared its ugly head when least expected, and I was at a complete loss for words. Childhood memories of being bullied for my skin color threatened to flood in and take over. I fought against the anxious thoughts that threatened to take over and prayed to God to help me and give me wisdom to know what to say to my two little boys.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5.
When we got home, we sat down and talked. I told them that they never needed to be afraid of anyone. I showed them what the apple of our eye was and I explained to them if anyone ever touched them, they would be touching God’s eye.
“For thus says the Lord of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.” Zechariah 2:8.
I also told them never to be afraid to stand up and fight to defend themselves. I gave them every line of defense I could think of, that I had ever used. I hugged them close to me and together we prayed. I started and thanked Jesus for keeping us safe and asked Him once again to protect my little boys, and be with them and to let them know that He was there with them always.
Father, forgive them
Then came the little voice: “Dear God, please give the boy another chance…”
And that’s when it really hit me. That was the prayer similar to one that had been prayed more than 2000 years ago.
“Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34.
In my righteous indignation, I had forgotten to forgive. In the long run, that was all that actually mattered for our eternity. To react like Jesus would. It had taken a little boy to remind me; it will be a lesson I will never forget – “out of the mouth of babes.”
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.