This Unique Gift of…Something

Took Javan to Sunday school for the first time in a loooooong time this morning. We went to the early service so it wouldn’t be as crowded, and I was the 6 year-2nd grade teacher, so he could stick with me and not worry about separation anxiety. Just trying to gently expose him to more and more as he gets comfortable with each step so hopefully one day he can actually enjoy and learn from church. Yeah, that did not go well. I wasn’t expecting him to participate in any group activities (which he didn’t), so I let him bring along a few toys to keep him occupied. Instead of playing with them, he growled and yanked at my legs and tried to escape and punched a kid in the face and and and and. Won’t be trying that again anytime soon. BUT, that is so far from what’s on my mind right now. It’s just a side note. Javan had an amazing experience today!

We went to McDonald’s at lunch – the one with the cool tree house playground. We played and had our meal, then decided to get McFlurries. Yummmm. After I ordered, I turned around and saw that there was a soldier in full uniform in line a few people behind me. I went and got Javan from the playground, told him there was a real soldier out there, and asked him if he wanted to thank the soldier for fighting for him. His eyes went round and he ran out of the playground to see for himself. He was so excited! He went right up to the soldier, looked waaaaaaay up (he was a very tall man, I’m glad Javan wasn’t afraid of him), and said “Excuse me.” The soldier immediately crouched down to Javan’s level and heard his sweet little voice say “Thank you for fighting to keep me safe.” The soldier then said, in his surprisingly still slightly boyish voice, “You’re very welcome, Little Man.” The soldier put out his hand for a shake, and Javan shook it. As the soldier went to stand up, Javan grabbed his shoulders, pulled him back down, and gave him the biggest, sweetest hug. Javan’s eyes were shut tight and the others who saw it, even knowing nothing about Javan, were amazed at the intensity of that hug. There was just something about it that was so intense and emotional. I am so kicking myself for not having my camera at the ready. This is literally a photo that would have made itself known around the world overnight. I wish I could pull it out of my brain and take it to Kinko’s.

We got our McFlurry’s and took them back to the playground, finished our playtime, and headed out to the car. No sooner than I have Javan buckled, then the soldier comes out to meet us once more. “Excuse me, Ma’am. Do you mind if I talk with your son?” Wishing he did not have to suffer the sight of the horrendously messy backseat of my car, I complied. I asked Javan to come back out of the car. The soldier crouched down once more and said, “I want to give you something.” He ripped a patch right off the sleeve of his uniform and handed to this little boy he didn’t even know. “This was with me the whole time I was in Iraq. 18 months.” I DID get a picture of this, although it does nothing to capture the emotion of the event. Javan said thank you. I was speechless and near tears. It was such an unexpected and beautiful moment. I embraced this soldier, a stranger, a man I didn’t know, in a tight bear hug, and he embraced me right back. I thanked him in a slightly husky, emotion-filled voice and we went our separate ways.

I reflected on this all day. It has stayed with me, stayed on my mind. I realized something I already knew, but didn’t know I knew. Or something like that. My son has a unique gift to touch the hearts of others, and the unique gift of showing his heart to others like no one else I’ve ever known can do. He’s just different somehow. Maybe it’s just that he’s so intense in everything he does, thinks, or feels. And when he loves. He truly loved that man, was truly grateful to the marrow of his bones for the sacrifice that he doesn’t even begin to understand. That soldier felt it when Javan hugged him. The other onlookers saw it. That…something…that makes Javan’s love magical. I know that this gift will follow him wherever he goes for the rest of his life. Not every second, not even every day. But maybe when it counts. And it gives me hope that God will use this incredible gift for his glory.


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