“Mommy, something is missing.”
The words she utters as I am trying to slide out the bedroom door.
“What’s missing, baby?” I say, slightly annoyed at the delay in my escape.
“Is it a stuffed animal or you need another kiss?”
“I don’t know. I just feel like something is missing.”
It’s dark outside, and I am ready to move past bedtime… but the words are unusual. She is only 6. Several nights in a week or two we repeat this scenario. I finally think to tell her, maybe her heart wants God’s presence. I pray with her and tell her to talk to Him when I leave- to tell Jesus she loves Him and ask Him to fill up what’s missing.
Another week or two goes by, and I forget. It’s so easy in the midst of the busy and the “urgent” to forget the significant. Sometimes we barely even notice it. Social media calls and the tv blares, and often the real is overlooked. Buried up under all that soul noise. Or blanketed by the to-do list.
“Mommy, something is missing.”
Those words again. I am still without answers. Me- who has lived a few decades. But this time she is not. She-who has only breathed on this earth for 79 short months.
“I think I know what’s missing,” she says.
“What is it? What’s missing?” I ask curiously.
I am still expecting it to be a toy.
“It’s forgiveness,” she says. And the words catch me off guard.
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“I don’t forgive people. When I get in trouble with you or dad, I put an X on your name. And other people, too. I don’t forgive them.”
I am astonished.
“Do you keep a list on real paper?” I fumble.
“No, it’s in my heart,” replies her little voice in the dark all surrounded by mermaids and pink bears. “I put an x on them in my heart.”
She has figured it out. She tells me she prayed like I told her to. This is what she has come up with. The missing. The thing that has bothered her night after night is that she has not forgiven. Those who hurt her little heart. Or made her mad. They still have x’s on their names, and she feels it. She feels the missing. The lack of peace. The unforgiveness burning deep. Separating her 6-year-old soul from peace.
I am astonished. I feel hardened. Perhaps the years have calloused me from such sensitivity. The tread of life dulling my spiritual senses. The noise drowning out the focus.
Oh Lord, strip our grown-up hearts of hardness! Peel off the thickened layers that protect the deep. Help us to feel the ache of the missing. To notice the lack of peace. To humble ourselves and forgive those who have hurt us. As you have forgiven us! This Easter week may we remember the criss-cross of the lashes on Jesus’ back. The X’s he bore in blood for our forgiveness. The shredding he endured for our healing- our piecing back together. May we forgive those we have “X’ed” out and allow your Holy Spirit to fill up the missing in us!
“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
“But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. “ Isaiah 53:5 NLT
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Rachel King