She accidentally drops her bowl while clearing the table after dinner. It doesn’t even break, but rather spins like a top for a moment before settling into its place. Her father frowns; he suspects she was being careless.
He is right, of course.
“Were you using two hands?” he asks. After breaking more bowls than a family of six can afford to break, the children have been reminded more than once to hold their bowls (and plates) with two hands when walking to the sink from the table.
She completely melts. She screams, and runs down the hall to find her mother, who is getting ready for her monthly reading club meeting.
“Mommy!” she sobs! “I — dropped — my — bowl!” She is gasping in between each word, hardly managing her breathing. “It — didn’t — break — but — Daddy — asked — me — if — I — was — using — two — hands — and — I — didn’t — want — to — lie — and — ” She cuts off here with more screaming and sobbing.
I am torn. Part of me wants to cry for her, she is so pathetic. And part of me finds this humorous. Why is this a such a big deal?
“But it didn’t break!” I remind her. “That’s good news, right?”
I try to be cheerful to counterbalance the panic.
Wrong move. She is now crying more than ever.
So I ask her, “Did you lie to Daddy?”
She screams and sobs!
“Did you use two hands, or one hand?”
She screams and runs away.
I go to find her, and her sister informs me that she is hiding under the desk. She is nothing but a puddle of tears.
I seek out my husband. I suspect that she lied, and she’s afraid of being found out, but I’m wrong. He tells me she never answered.
She never told me that, but I guess she didn’t get that far.
I go back to her room.
“Come out,” I say. “I need to read you a story. Go to my rocking chair. I’ll meet you there.”
She is sobbing in my chair when I return with our copy of The Lightlings. I tell her this book is about her.
I read it in a different way this time. The people, they were made to be in the light, but they disobeyed the King. I think they forgot to use two hands, I say confidentially. They ran away into the dark and they hid. Under a desk, I say. They hid under a big desk. She laughs a little and blushes.
It was so dark there that they stumbled around. Sometimes they bumped their heads on the desk. She laughs again.
One day, they saw a great light, and they went to find it, and behold! The King had sent a baby lightling Who made everything right again. The people didn’t have to be afraid anymore. You don’t have to be afraid anymore.
I close the book before the ending. It never ends quite right, I think to myself. Why did he bring up being afraid of the dark, when plenty of children know what it is like to feel like hiding when they have even a hint of guilt?
So we talk about what our King has done. He tells us He has separated our sins from us as far as the East is from the West, and He will never, never think about them again.
“Why?” she asks, like she suspects something is remiss here.
Because He loves us, and He has given us this gift.
So go. Be happy. You are forgiven.
And don’t forget to use two hands.
Get the (almost) weekly digest!
Weekly encouragement, direct to your inbox, (almost) every Saturday.