I went out of town this past weekend. I didn’t go out of town for a vacation but to babysit my sister’s four kids. There was great anticipation before I even got there. I was told that as soon as the oldest boy of the family found out that uncle Paul was coming to watch them, he gave a visible fist pump. I couldn’t disappoint this anticipated joy.
The first thing I taught the kids was how to do was slide down the stairs into a pile of pillows. Looking back on it, I think I just wanted to do that again… We had races and the winners would get candy. What a blast! We then went out to play baseball outside and then things started to go downhill from there.
I do not know whose idea it was to give children metal bats, especially considering their finite attention span. My nephew was taking a practice swing when instead of hitting the air, got me painfully on my arm leaving a bruise the size of a baseball.
We decided to go back inside after that. I probably should say that the children decided to go inside after that and I ended up chasing after them trying to keep up. They were so hyped up on sugar by this time I thought they would either break something or worse, each other.
Now I am the youngest of seven kids. The beautiful thing about being the youngest is that you never have to change diapers. The youngest of the four, my Godson, is just getting potty trained and still has the occasional accident. Of course, I didn’t find this out until after the fact. I will let your imagination do the rest…
Finally, I wanted to sit everyone down for lunch. And you know how sometimes when you open a ketchup bottle there is an internal combustion and then ketchup squirts everywhere? I am a chemist by training, and I still do not understand how that happens, but it happened that day and went all over my white shirt… I eventually got the kids fed and by the late afternoon, I was done in.
When my sister walked in, I could see her eyes get bigger as they eyed my red stained shirt. I was quick to clarify that it was ketchup and that her children were still alive!
Driving back home that evening painfully exhausted, I eyed my bruise and ketchup-blood stained shirt and thought to myself, “This is what it takes to love fiercely.”
During this Lenten season, my mind goes to the cross. The difference is that the red stains in that scene are not a lot like ketchup. Christ loves each of a great deal more than the pains I endured this past weekend. However, we are called to love in similar ways each day. Each moment God invites us to reflect His love in this world. And often, it is in the ordinary bruised and ketchup-stained manner of parenting.
When was the last time you reflected Christ’s sacrificial love for another?
Who could use your love today?