I love how honest kids are. They haven't yet learned how to disguise their true thoughts and feelings. In "The Divine Conspiracy" Dallas Willard writes that, "interestingly, 'growing up' is largely a matter of learning to hide our spirit behind our face, eyes, and language so that we can evade and manage others to achieve what we want and avoid what we fear. By constrast, the child's face is a constant epiphany because it doesn't yet know how to do this." It's no wonder that Jesus beseeches us to have "child-like faith", without fear or phoniness.
Sloan was only four years old the first time he met Brett. He knelt down beside him and started talking to him and making funny faces, and I had to gently tell him that Brett couldn't see him. He was visibly appalled, almost angry.
"That's not FAIR!"
I wasn't sure how to respond. To an adult I might say, "Yeah, well...life isn't fair, is it?" But to a child? That seemed a bit much.
"He doesn't see anything?", Sloan persisted.
I sadly shook my head.
"But that's not fair!", he said again, even more vehemently.
It amused me and oddly enough, I found his genuine indignation comforting... a refreshingly honest departure from the positive spin most adults feel obligated to give it. I've had plenty of people tell me what a "blessing" it is. A blessing? I confess I struggle not to be aggravated by that one. If you think it's such a blessing than why don't you pray for a child of your own with severe disabilities? But, like my mom always reminds me, they mean well. Of course they do. I know that. People don't know what to say, but children are free to call it as they see it.
Caitlin teaches fourth and fifth graders at a private school in the Washington D.C. area. One day she told her students all about Brett. I think she was somewhat taken aback by their strong reaction to the news. It was all so sad! How horrible that Miss Staples' little brother was born like that! Poor little Brett! Poor Miss Staples!
One of Caitlin's little girls came up to her desk a little later. She wanted to say something to make Miss Staples feel better about her little brother. She asked Caitlin if she knew about the verse in the Bible where Jesus said the "least on earth will be the greatest in Heaven"?
Caitlin nodded encouragingly.
And the little girl sweetly continued, "Because I think that means your little brother is going to be the greatest in Heaven."
Isn't that precious? I can't describe how touched I was by this story. God used that little girl to comfort and encourage me like nothing else ever has. I will forever cherish those particular words of Jesus. I will never read them again without remembering that little girl and thanking God for her and her precious insight. How awesome that God's truths are simple enough to be understood by a child and yet remain "alive and active" to comfort and instruct us through every season of our lives.