Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Four Boys and a Cupcake

At this point in my life I realize that the things that stick (words, images, experiences, conversations) stick because God wants them to stick. That is, He'll be using those same words, images, experiences and conversations to grow me, teach me, and, more than likely, humble me, exactly when I need it.

Usually, I begin writing with a vague understanding of what the lesson is about and figure it out in more detail as the words get typed on the page. But this? This I don't know why this stuck. I just know it did. And I know I need to tell you about it.

I was in Haiti last week, at the same orphanage we were at in March. There was a point in the middle of the week when I found myself sitting at a small table with one of the older boys from the orphanage, a translator, and the American Missionary, Amber. We had talked for a half hour or so and at the end of the conversation, Amber stood up and retrieved a beautifully decorated cupcake to give to the boy. (Cupcakes were on hand since we had celebrated a 40th birthday on our team.)

I watched the boy hold the cupcake in his hand. Just hold it. Once in a while he'd look down at it so I finally said, "that's for you. You eat it." He sort of smiled then took a finger to try the smallest bit of icing. The icing was thick and piled high and I thought there was no way I could hold on to that delicious looking dessert as long as he had.

Soon I saw some other boys headed our way. I was getting kind of antsy. I wanted him to just eat the cupcake before the other boys came. I didn't want to be sitting there when they realized there weren't any for them. I didn't want to be the one who had to listen to the complaints. I thought of the many times I would go through the drive-thru with one of my own children and tell them they had to finish their chocolate shake before we got home and the other kids saw. I thought of the many that's not fair! and where's mine? I tried desperately to avoid by giving treats in private. And here was this boy, sitting in an orphanage where they only have two meals per day, holding a cupcake while three other boys come walking straight up to him.

I tried to prepare myself for the onslaught of whining and complaint.

But none of the boys mentioned the cupcake with its bright white frosting sitting against the mocha skin of one of their peers. Instead, they talked about soccer. And while they did, the first boy carefully drew down a section of the cupcake paper and took a small bite. He then handed the cupcake to the next boy, who took another careful bite. They continued to talk about soccer (Tiga is the best player; everyone agrees) and share bite after bite of cupcake.

Four growing boys.

One small cupcake.

No complaints.

No one accused any one else about taking bites of too large a size. No one complained that it wasn't fair they didn't get a cupcake of their own. No one demanded to know why one kid got the dessert and the others didn't.

Life isn't fair. These kids know that all too well. It's what makes me want to pick them all up and bring them home with me.

But they know something that too many of us don't know: the art of sharing. When you own nothing, nothing is yours. Instead, it is everyone's. And everyone deserves something.

I believe that young boy would have never eaten that whole cupcake all on his own. I believe that he knew it was a special treat that was worth sharing with others. I don't think he gave much thought as to who he would share it with; it just so happened these three particular boys trudged on up to where we were sitting. He would have shared with any three (or more) that appeared.

His heart. The way he sat still and didn't horf down that dessert in two bites. The way he quietly shared, like it wasn't a big deal, just the way it is around here.

I saw it later on in the week. When a boy received a birthday card, even though the bright blue number on the front reflected an age he passed two years ago. Throughout the day different boys held the card. Opened it. Flipped it over. Inside was a photo of a family and they each held it. At least three different boys showed me the card and the photo, even though it wasn't theirs.

When you own nothing, nothing is yours.

Isn't that what God teaches us? What life shows us? We don't really own it. The houses, the cars, the television sets. We won't be buried with it. We won't have it after we die. We live here for a time amassing objects and items for what, exactly?

The way he held on to that cupcake to share. It's that reason I would never want to take all these children home with me. I would be embarrassed to teach them to keep, to shove, to hoard. I would be ashamed to show them our way of life. It's never enough; you need to have more.

Oh, I wish I had video of the calm, quiet way these 12-14 year old boys passed around a single cupcake. That right there? Restored my hope in humanity. The kindness. The giving. The love.

It was so good.

And I can't wait until that time in my future when God uses these four boys and a cupcake to show me what I need to see.


unityfalls said...

This was beautiful. I will remember this for a long time. Thank you.

Julia Ingersoll said...

Sharing this with my three boys. So special. Thanks for sharing.

michelle said...

thank you for the testimony. it's beautiful and a wonderful message

Noah's Mom said...

I love, love, LOVED this!

experimentingaswegrow said...

Lovely. What a great image. I'm going to read it aloud to my two daughters.