She grabs the little yellow plastic character and dances it all around, singing her little song. And he, previously busy with drawing, realizes she’s got his toy.
And he reaches out to grab it back.
She’s totally forgotten about that doll at the bottom of her box. But for her younger sister, this old doll is treasure. She finds it and holds it close. The older one finally notices.
And the abandoned toy is now the coveted possession.
The toddler has left all her things in a mess and seems to care less. But when the baby comes crawling, suddenly everything the toddler’s ever touched with her two hands is in danger of capture.
She grabs and grasps and cries out, ‘She’s going to get my stuff!’ And her little arms can’t hold it all and blankets and sunglasses and stacking blocks drop all over and she fits.
And so, we here in this house, we’re slowly learning to say these words:
‘You are more important than this toy.’
When four hands pull at the ball in four different directions, when one voice is raised over another in contest, when tears are shed over dime store toys and expensive treasures, I pray for grace and slowly pry back the grabby hands and we practice these words:
You are more important than this toy. You will last longer. Christ loves you, not this silly plastic brick. You are made in God’s image, this doll is not. Your soul will live forever, this thing will one day burn up in a trash heap.
We say this not to excuse treating possessions like trash or to say it’s okay to be poor stewards of what God’s given. We say this to remind ourselves of the greatest possession; to wake ourselves to first steward the most important of God’s gifts.
Of course, it doesn’t always work.
Sometimes, one of them just won’t say it, they won’t admit that their sibling is more important and precious than the toy they’re grabbing for. And when that happens, I pray for strength to just put that toy away for awhile. I explain that things that come before people are called, ‘idols’ and idols just make us miserable, so there’s no use keeping those around.
And then there are always tears…
The hardest part? It’s me, here with my own toys. My time alone, my clean kitchen and vacuumed floors. It’s my bathroom drawer that I’d rather the toddler not turn over once a day, my (sorta) clean shirt that I’d rather the boy not rub his muddy Crocs on, it’s my time with my book or this blog that I’d rather not be interrupted.
I certainly have my toys. I can certainly let my toys become more important than God’s treasures.
So I practice it with the kids and say it too.
‘You are more important than all of this, because you will last forever.’
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 1:18-19
I love this little reader by Mo Willems. It helps teach this lesson in a very funny way.