Heartbroken sobs came from behind the dining room chair, his little tear-stained face barely visibly behind his knees. Under the table, I quickly gathered up the scattered puzzle pieces as the dog was sniffing for just the right one to make off with. Roughly 400 pieces of the 750 piece puzzle had already been put together, which left about 350 to pick up off the floor; 750 pieces that when assembled would be a pretty country shelf with a bunch of flower pots. Right now I'm not sure that it won't be 749 pieces of a floral arrangement...Gracie was pretty quick to take off to her corner. Justin and the dog had been enjoying a romp around the dining room table amid my cries to be careful and watch out for my masterpiece in the making.
Once I was certain I had gotten all the pieces back in the box, I called to Justin to come to me.
I went around the chair and gently scooped him up, trying to console him. These weren't the tears of a kid who is afraid he is "gonna get it." These were tears of remorse. He knew how hard I had been working on the puzzle and he was just plain old feeling bad.
As I held his sweaty little body, his sobs gradually fading to hiccupy breaths, I was overwhelmed with love for this boy of mine. Instead of wanting to tell him that's why he needs to listen when I tell him to stop running in the house, I sensed a bigger picture opportunity here. I felt like this was the perfect picture of grace, a really abstract concept for some of us. First and foremost, I wanted him to get how much I love him. Then, we talked about how much God loves us. At this point, Justin still didn't want to look at me, which became a good opportunity to talk about guilt and shame. I told him there is nothing we can do that will take God's love away from us, from the littlest naughty to the worst thing we could ever do. And, like God doesn't remind us of our sins and throw them back in our faces the next time we screw up, I promised Justin that I wasn't going to mention the spilled puzzle box again.
I'm not sure how much of that he understood, but I do know that Daddy and Connor were listening closely. When we were done visiting, I took Justin back to the table, back to the scene of the crime, so he could help me work on the puzzle for awhile. Like Jesus restored Peter, I felt it was important to let Justin back in. And maybe, I was able to plant a seed of a picture of grace that he will remember someday. It will be interesting to finish the puzzle and find out if I am missing a piece.