The other day, my kindergartner came home from school with something clutched tightly in his hand.
“What’s that, Justus?” I asked.
“Makiah gave it to me,” he said, opening his fist. “It’s her heart.”
Sure enough, there it was. A sparkly, pink, plastic heart. A strange thing for my Chuck-Liddell-look-a-like to be carrying around. Of course, I thought it was cute. A little girl gave her heart to my baby boy. Suppressing all those, “oh my gosh, he’s growing up” kind of thoughts, I smiled, wondering just how long it would take Justus to destroy or flush Makiah’s precious heart down the toilet. Doing my best to be a good, cautious parent I told him he really shouldn’t take other people’s toys, to which he pouted and said,
“But she WANTS me to have it.”
Who was I to argue?
A few days went by and the heart kept turning up around the house, often in the mouth of my one-year-old. This didn’t please Justus as he’d been trying to keep it safe in his treasure chest. One-year-olds don’t understand the sanctity of a boy’s treasure chest, so Justus took to keeping it in his jacket pocket where he could guard it more carefully. About a week later, as he was climbing into the car after school, I had another interesting conversation with my boy.
“Look what I got,” he said, waving a dinky orange motorcycle, “Makiah gave it to me.”
“Justus!” I huffed. “I told you not to take any more of her toys.”
“Don’t worry, Mom,” he said, “I gave Makiah back her heart. The motorcycle is wayyy cooler.”
In truth, I was a bit heartbroken. I could just imagine poor little Makiah, devastated because her heart had been traded for a motorcycle, of all things. Stupid testosterone! I didn’t want Justus to know I was siding with Makiah and the heart, so I just said,
“What did Makiah say?”
“Nothing,” Justus said with a shrug. “She turned around and gave her heart to Ethan.”
It’s funny what children teach us. As I drove home, I thought about how we–as teens, as adults–trade our heart away for the age-appropriate equivalent of an orange motorcycle. Something (or someone) shiny comes along and we’re so easily persuaded to trade away our emotions, our values, and our very heart just to possess it (or them). If only we were as resilient as kids! We could simply take our heart right back, incredulous at the lack of care it’d been shown. But it doesn’t usually work that way, does it? It’s hard to take back something that valuable, even if it’s being mistreated. Even if the person you gave it to would rather move on to something shinier.
God didn’t create our hearts to be passed around or traded away. They’re meant to be committed, to be loved. Hearts are to be cherished–by us and by those we give them to. So be careful, friends, what you do with that heart of yours. Keep it safe. Guard it well. ‘Cause whether it’s given away of its own free-will, or stolen right from your chest, you may not get it back!