“Mom, how much money does Donald Trump have?”
“Millions, billions,” I answered.
“So, he’s rich? I wish I was that rich.”
“Hmmm. Yeah, he’s rich.”
“Someday I’m gonna be rich.”
“If you had $100,000 right now, would you be rich?”
“No.” He looked confused, frustrated as if I just could not understand what rich was.
That’s where I paused. I had to dig back into the object lesson I’d been prodding them with for years. They never saw it coming, every time. That is the power of a few chocolate spheres.
“I have a few M&Ms left. Do you want some?”
“YES! I always want chocolate.”
I gave him five M&Ms.
Then I turn to his brother and gave him ten M&Ms.
Son number one quickly processed the comparison. “Wait a minute! Why did he get more than me?”
“When I gave you five M&Ms, you told me ‘thanks.’ Were you thankful for the M&Ms? Did you have any M&Ms before I gave them to you?”
“And did I have to give you any of my M&Ms?”
“I always want to give you good things like M&Ms. It makes me happy to give you things. But our gratefulness should reflect that we’ve received something that was not ours to begin with. It is never dependent on what others receive or it becomes relative gratefulness. Or let’s be real here, coveting.”
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor, including his M&Ms.”
Exodus 20:17. Okay, well, I added that last part.
When God gives us wonderful gifts, like children, or a job we love, a spouse, money to pay our bills, or something as simple as circular candy covered deliciousness, we should reflect backward – to our position before having those things, instead of reflecting ahead to someone who might have more, or better, or faster, or fancier.
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
I learned that lesson the hard way, twice. And I say “learned” loosely, because I constantly remind myself about the M&Ms. Sometimes while I’m reminding the kids about the M&Ms.
After my fourth miscarriage, I sat in resignation that God had not blessed me with children. I have to confess that the pity party was pretty grand, streamers of woe and a buffet of sorrow were my guests. Why me? That’s what we ask, right?
But then I had to look around – I had a devoted husband. I had a well-paying job. A home to live in. I had family who loved me.
But there I sat, crying over the M&Ms my neighbor got. Mine were pretty good and melting in my hand while I wasted away in my pity.
Fast forward six years and I’d be sitting in another pity party. Our youngest son was diagnosed with this terrible, horrible, deadly disease. HOW can that be?
WHERE, gosh darn it, are the rest of my stinking M&Ms?!?!?!
Oh, but those three boys that I didn’t have six years ago would have looked pretty good back then. I had a lot of M&Ms. And still, I wanted more?
When will we have enough M&Ms?
My kids will never eat an M&M without a quick glance at me, and a timid smile, their gentle reminder that they’re working on their gratefulness. I’m still working on mine too.
Have you ever used a similar illustration with your kids? Yourself?