April 12, 2017

A bag full of bricks

A few weeks back I kept noticing Kaleeya’s backpack getting pretty heavy. Every morning when I went to put her lunch in the front zipper, I would say, “Kaleeya what the heck is in here? It feels like you are carrying around a bunch of rocks—we HAVE to clean out your backpack when you get home.” Then, like most moms of six kids—I hope, please tell me I am not the only one—I would forget all about it until the next morning when we were heading out the door.

I don’t want to admit this out loud—so please read it quietly in your head—but this went on for a few weeks. Every morning the same conversation, sending her out the door with a “bag full of rocks”.

Until one morning I figured out what all the “rocks” really were. The kids had not come down yet and I was on top of my game. I went to put lunches in their backpacks and grabbed Kaleeya’s off the hook, only to remember our consistent conversation about cleaning it out. I unzipped the back zipper and to my surprise there were seven big, thick, library books.

A lot gets past me. I don’t always take the time to read the thousands of emails I get weekly from their teachers . . . but one fact I knew to be true since day one of the school year: Kaleeya’s class was only allowed to check out one book a week.

A thief? Awesome. I was ticked. My first reaction was to march up the stairs and give her a piece of my mind—remind her how embarrassing it was for us moms when our kids pull crap like this. I wanted to ground her butt to the house for a week. I wanted to give her what she deserved.

Soon faces were popping up all over the house. Everyone was awake and ready for breakfast. I stewed as I flipped pancakes and did hair—until finally it was time. I pulled her into the laundry room as everyone was putting on their shoes to leave. I said one last prayer in my mind, “Alright . . . I know what I want to do with her, but if you have another idea . . . now would probably be a good time to clue me in.”

I kneeled down so I could look her in the eye, “Kaleeya . . . do you want to tell me about all those library books in your backpack?” And that is when the dam burst. “I took them mom . . .” She began sobbing and holding on to my arm. Finally after asking her why, she answered, “I wanted to read all of them . . . so I put them in my bag, and I have carried them around because I didn’t want to get in trouble. But I didn’t read any of them, because I didn’t want to get in trouble. So now you know . . . and . . . and . . . and I can put them all back one at a time . . . and . . . and no one will ever notice.”

No one will ever notice. Her words echoed in my mind for a few seconds before I could answer. I said, “Kaleeya, I bet that has been so hard keeping that inside. I am so sorry for that load you have had to carry around on your back and in your mind. I wish it was as easy as just sneaking them back in to your library, but that isn’t how we make it right.”

She held my hand tight as we walked into her school that morning and she told her librarian what she had done. Later that day she stood alone as the principal gave her a punishment, and again as she cleaned up the school yard on her lunch.

But after school, that little girl didn’t just walk slowly out to my car—she ran with a big grin on her face. She gave me a giant hug and said, “Mom . . . it doesn’t feel heavy any more . . . I am free.”

How many times do we carry around a load—way too heavy for us to bear alone—thinking if we could just hide it a little longer, no one will notice as we drop one “book at a time” to lighten our burden. We justify that as long as we don’t get in trouble . . . then it wasn’t really a crime. We hold ourselves hostage, to a backpack full of secrets . . . with a false sense of safety coming from concealing our pain.

Well I don’t have all the answers for the loads you all have to carry. I don’t pretend to understand how they feel for you, but one thing I know for sure . . . you don’t have to carry it all alone. You don’t have to hide, you don’t have to run, you don’t have to pretend that it is all ok.

At Easter time we are promised that the resurrection is real. WE are asked to remember that Christ conquered death and lives again. He rose from that tomb, and with that miracle . . . He carries a whole lot of backpacks—so full of bricks, and rocks . . . and books.

He died so we can . . . not only hide our pain, but so our burdens can be made light. Yes, it might be hard showing up at that librarian’s office, or scooping up other people garbage . . . but if we are willing to pay a small price for our sins—He will make up the rest.  

Close your eyes this Easter for just a minute. Picture in your mind all the times He has helped your burdens become light—or all the times He is waiting to do it now. That is grace.

I promise you it is not too late.  He lives. He is the #princeofpeace. He wants to share it with you.


Pam said...

Beautiful story about teaching about the atonement. You handled the situation beautifully.

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