Every time we check out, Adeline wants to help me put the items on the counter. She really enjoys assisting in this way, and I'm so thankful she finds it fun. On one of our recent grocery trips we pulled into the checkout aisle and waited behind an elderly woman putting the last of her full cart on the counter. Right away, Adeline asked if she could help the woman unload her cart. Without thinking, I told Addie that the woman was almost done, but that it was so kind of her to think of that. Blessing squashed.
Then, she asked me the same thing again yesterday. As we strolled into the checkout lane, there was another elderly woman unloading her still very full shopping cart. When Addie asked if we could help her, too quickly I responded: "Aw, that's so sweet of you, Honey. Let's go see if that line is shorter." I backed right out of the lane and took Adeline's potential blessing with me. Once more, I failed to slow down in order to allow my daughter to serve someone else.
Fast forward to last evening. I was unwinding after the kids were in bed and reading Dr. Dobson's monthly newsletter. In one part of the letter, he writes about explaining to his then young child that we need to help take care of the elderly, because we will all be that age one day. And then it hit me: I completely robbed Adeline of the opportunity to bless both of those women in the checkout aisle. On the first trip, I was too busy trying to wrangle my antsy 16 month old in order to prevent an epic meltdown, and this time around I wanted to get out of there quickly to make dinner. But what would two minutes have mattered? If I would have just slowed down I would have given my three year old the chance to demonstrate Christ's love. I also took that blessing away from both of those ladies as well. Wouldn't that have been such a memorable treasure for them? A little three year old walking up with her Ana doll, asking to help unload their grocery cart--can you get any sweeter than that? And when I think further on it, Adeline's kindness would have also touched the cashier and those in the line next to us. But those opportunities have passed.
I spent time in prayer asking God to forgive me and to help me slow down in order to allow my children the opportunity to serve others, even if it poses an inconvenience to me. Isn't that the whole point of what I'm trying to teach her every day anyway?!?! Mark 12:31 commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves, whether that be a sibling, a parent, a spouse, a next-door neighbor, or the lady in front of you at the grocery store. Adeline got it right on those days, and although I fell short as a Christian mom on both instances above, I've sure learned my lesson for the future. Now, I'll make an intentional effort to go forth with my children as they see opportunities to love others, no matter how silly or simple it may seem.
That night, as I prayed over my sleeping daughter I was again filled with thanks for her thoughtful heart and all the love that she has to pour out on this world, if only I'll let her. Slow down, moms, and let your tiny disciples minister! For what is more powerful than Christ's love from a little babe?!
For those of you with children, what standout memory do have of your child serving others? I'd love to hear your stories and ideas!