This morning I received a text message from a friend who had plans to host a playdate tomorrow; she was taking her son to the doctor and asked if I could host our friends tomorrow instead. "Yes, no problem! I hope he feels better!" I replied.
Whenever my 2-year-old hears the text notification on my phone he usually asks, "Who is that, Mommy?" and promptly answers his own question with either "It's Daddy!" or "Ickinuh?" (the way he says Aunt Christina). Naturally, he is always curious about who I may be in communication with, so when I sat back down at the table to join him while he slowwwly finished his breakfast I told him who it was.
As I explained which of my friends it was (by informing him whose mommy she is, of course), I went ahead and told him in simple terms what she said: his friend was going to the doctor because he wasn't feeling well.
Cue the look: the sweet, pensive look of concern Gabriel expresses any time he hears anything to suggest that someone is hurt or sick. I could tell that he was really soaking in this information and trying to figure out what to do or say about it. He had paused eating and seemed at a bit of a loss, so I suggested that we say a prayer for his friend to feel better.
Gabriel immediately said yes to my proposal and I offered a brief prayer while he listened. He seemed to feel better once we prayed and soon picked up his spoon to resume eating his oatmeal. Then, the remainder of the conversation went something like this:
Me: We can always pray for our friends, can't we? Because when we pray God can help us. Jesus wants to help us - and all we have to do is ask.
G (nodding and holding one finger in the air as if to make a point): Mmhmm. Because we just have to ask Jesus to help someone... (trails off thinking)
Me: That's right.
G: ...And Jesus can help someone feel better!
Me: That's exactly right.
And just like that I was FLOORED. Not by the fact that my son (who is barely 2.5) understood what I was telling him and responded as such (although that part did make me smile). Rather, I was floored by his reaction to the entire situation.
As a mom of young children living in New England, I wasn't the least bit taken aback by the fact that some child seemed to be ill in the middle of winter. I mean, that's just how life is this time of year, isn't it? Hearing a mom friend say their child is sick always makes me pause and offer sympathy or wishes to get well because we've all been there and know how challenging it can be. And sometimes I may even tell them they are in my prayers...but how often do I immediately sit down and thoughtfully say a prayer just for that child, mother, or family?
More often than not, any prayers I have promised are offered in the evening when we sit down and do our family prayers. But this morning my child made me realize that it was important to pray for our friends before continuing on with our day.
My son did not resume his meal until we had paused to pray for his friend. Only then did he move forward with ease...which also allowed me to see that it was helpful - not just for the people we were praying for, but even for us - to offer our prayers as part of our day rather than putting it off until later.
So, as I attempted to be instructive about prayer my child actually (unknowingly) instructed me.
As soon as I realized the valuable lesson God had given me through my son, I thought to myself how true it is that our children will be the ones to lead us to Him. What a beautiful reminder to begin this Lenten journey!
Thank you, God, for blessing me with the gift of being this child's mother.
But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”