The charge, the judgement and the verdict
Marta (3) stood in the middle of the kitchen looking reflective. She was clearly putting together some complex thought. We waited while she assembled the strands of internal narrative and drew her conclusions. She sighed, and then delivered judgement.
“Mummy,” she announced. “I don’t like Oliver any more.”
We put on our serious expressions. Siblings squabble. This proclamation against her ten-year-old brother, therefore, did not seem too distressing. But we try to hear out their concerns and suggest ways of overcoming what, to a three-year-old can seem insurmountable relationship breakdowns. After all, big brothers can be overbearing. They can get angry when little sisters play with their stuff. They can be bossy. Books can be written – indeed they have been – on the reasons a little sister might not like her brother.
Nonetheless, we weren’t aware of any particular disputes between Marta and Oliver at that point in time, so we asked what had happened. Marta lowered her eyes and shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot. She seemed uneasy with what she needed to say. Finally, in hushed tones, she whispered the damning charge against her brother.
“He didn’t like the soup you made.”
Marta’s accusation was, in point of fact, entirely true. Mónica had made soup the previous day. The soup in question hadn’t really been up Oliver’s street, and he had said as much. Oliver had been expected to eat his soup graciously and without complaint in a civilised manner regardless. Mónica had taken this in all her stride and, if we’re honest, completely forgotten about it by the next day. She’s very grown up like that.
But Marta couldn’t forget this slight against her mother. The depth of the betrayal cut too deep. She no longer found herself able to like her treacherous and degenerate big brother, and had come to the point that she needed to share this with us.
Of course, we did what any parent would do. We supressed the desire to laugh and tried not to let Marta see our amusement. More importantly, we assured her that what mattered about the soup was that she, Marta, had loved it. Mummy loves Marta loving her soup. Oliver enjoys other things that Mummy cooks, and Mummy loves Oliver enjoying her other cooking.
And we know that both Marta and Oliver love Mummy, whether they like particular dishes or not.
Marta was surprised, but accepted our baffling verdict without question.
God’s Toddlers have different tastes too. Some of us don’t like soup. Some of us don’t like liturgy. Some of us don’t like the song “10,000 reasons.” Some of us don’t like long expository sermons. Some of us don’t like the humour of @UnvirtousAbbey’s Twitter account.
For those of us who do love these things, God loves that we love them. God has prepared other things for his other children, and he expects us to adore our brothers and sisters whatever metaphorical cooking is their preference. Although, when it’s soup time, we might be expected to eat up graciously and without complaint in a civilised manner.
It is, after all, the same God of baffling verdicts who we adore and who cooks for us all.
© Text 2015 Paul Brownnutt
Being God’s Toddler by Paul Brownnutt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Soup Image © stu_spivack
Today’s post was brought to you by Romans 14:6