It's been over 110 degrees all week so we've had "rainy day" schedule, i.e. recess indoors every day. Yesterday, I was walking through campus and a class of 1st graders were heading from the cafeteria back to the classroom. Some of them, who didn't get to finish their lunch, had their leftover lunch trays in tow. I had barely come up behind them when a little boy accidentally stepped on the shoelace of a chubby little red-headed boy, which caused the said shoelace to untie, stop him in his tracks and made him fall to the ground. His tray went flying and he immediately began to wail. It started out as an accidental fall, but as he realized what had happened he began to protest getting up and seemed to want to stay on the ground in mourning over the fact that he had been unfairly tripped (although it really was an accident) and as a result, his carrots, pineapple and milk carton had spilled on the ground. I almost walked by, seeing as his aide would probably become aware of the situation or maybe he was old enough to handle it himself. He looked older than he was...a little heftier and taller than most 1st graders. But, I suddenly had compassion for the little guy and realized it was obviously my duty to stop and make sure he was okay.
When I got to him tears were streaming and he seemed to be in despair. I checked his knees for scrapes but he was fine. His tears seemed to be more out of emotional pain than anything physical. Through sobs he said, "But I really wanted to drink that!" I picked up his milk carton and found that it was still relatively full. I said, "I'm sorry, but there is still some left. Okay?" He knodded, calming down a little. His sobs slowed and as I picked up what was salvageable, he gathered the courage to stand back up.
"Did your shoe come untied?"
"Hm, you should probably tie it before you walk back to class, huh?"
Breaking into full out sobs again, "I don't know HOW to tie my shoes!!!"
Part of me wanted to laugh, but then I felt for the little guy. I knew that this wasn't the end of the world and not all was lost. Even if he did lose out on getting to drink his milk that day, the day would still go on and by the next morning he may have forgotten about the whole thing. But, even knowing that, my heart felt for his tears and the sadness that overwhelmed him over something so small yet important to him. Someday he would learn to tie his own shoe, learn to pick up his own spilled milk, and get up after being knocked down. But, today he needed a little assistance. I tied his shoe, put his tray back in his hands, wiped a tear from his cheek and said, "it's gonna be okay. Okay?" He knodded, took a deep breath to gather himself and walked back to class, a little more discheveled and behind the rest of the group, but still intact.
As I walked back to my classroom I thought, 'I wonder if this is how God reacts when my car breaks down on the freeway and I cry the whole way home or the boy I really wanted it to work out with doesn't choose me and I feel like wallowing?' He knows it's gonna be okay. But I'm sure He still feels for the way it hurts inside. Sometimes He ties our "spiritual shoes" and wipes away our tears and picks us up off the ground and tells us directly "it's gonna be okay." Other times He might be there cheering us on, but it might be our turn to prove to ourselves we can stand up on our own and learn how to tie our own shoes.
Just a thought. The next time I want to cry over spilled milk I'm going to remember the chubby little red-headed boy. It's gonna be okay.