Then & Now {Story 12 of 40}

Six years separate then and now. I tried to recall a single photo of just the three of us during the span of time between then and now. I don’t think any exist. I look at then and realize those people would have never believed their now.

When kids grow up in homes where they aren’t given basic provisions and encouragement and love, they learn to demand attention. When a child who has been slighted moves in with a child who has abundance, it is easy to feel jealous. Jealousy leads to all kinds of ugly actions.

Sometimes it takes a long time for a person to realize cutting down another person doesn’t make you feel better about yourself.

Sam lives — day in and day out — with being the target of jealousy. It’s hard to have your toys broken, your candy taken, your favorite shirt hidden. It’s even harder when they thing that’s taken away from you is time with your mom and dad. When siblings squeeze onto your mom’s lap and push you off. When they throw a ball at the Lego creation you are building with your dad and then kick it so it breaks to pieces. When they throw a fit right when you are getting ready to watch your favorite show. When they take the toy you are playing with, then take the toy you switch to play with, then take the next toy too. When they call you a baby because your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world is to build train tracks. When they call you a jerk because you get a magazine in the mail and they didn’t.

It might make a person want to turn real bitter real fast.

The boy then, never once acted bitter. A toy was taken and a momma would give it back. The little boy then walked away from the toy. “She can play it,” he said.

He was pushed off my  lap and I would move him to the other side. He would scooch away and pat the couch next to me for his other sister, sandwiching me between the girls. “My turn later,” he said.

It seems the boy now is filled with grace instead of bitterness.He uses words with his actions. “It’s hurtful when you call me a jerk. You can read my magazine too.”

He keeps building train tracks. “Home is the place you can do anything you want. Even baby things,” he says.

The now picture is evidence of the way grace heals. Sam built his Pinewood Derby car with Andy. The other kids didn’t interrupt, they didn’t break his car, and they didn’t sabotage the efforts. He then spent an entire Saturday morning racing his car. His siblings were there to support him. They cheered for him. They didn’t throw fits. They didn’t demand the attention. They didn’t force Andy and me to make the tough choice of who gets to stay and watch the Pinewood Derby and who takes the attention-seeking, fit-throwing child home. Instead of being jealous, they encouraged and supported him.

I used to worry that all of the negative attention Sam gets from his jealous siblings will scrape his goodness away. It doesn’t work that way, though. Because for all that Sam has done for them, they have given back to him. As his siblings learn compassion and kindness from him, Sam learns to stand up for convictions, to nurture others, and to play fair from them.

Family is reciprocal.  We need each other.  The One who makes families designed it this way.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

 With six people in our house, it is expected that someone is going to be difficult to live with at some point. It helps me to remember that we were made for each other. We were made into a family and the plans are good — not disaster.

Click here for the backstory.

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