It’s OK—I’m Not Mad

by Cheryl Ann Smith

It was one of the most beautiful examples of forgiveness I’ve ever seen: a three-year-old boy had just sleepily shuffled into the kitchen, still dressed in his pyjamas. Waiting for him was a very serious-looking mother with something to confess.

She had eaten all of his Halloween candy the previous evening! Shocked, he whipped around to look at where his stash had been. Sure enough—it was gone!

The look of incomprehension deepened when his mother continued, “I’m sorry. I was just really hungry last night, and there was nothing else to eat”.

The little tyke went over to the fridge and pulled open the massive door to verify that it was still full of food. “You should have eaten this,” he said.

Again, his mother apologized. The child mulled over the injustice for just a moment longer, then came up to his mum, put his hands on her face, smiled, and said, “It’s OK. I’m not mad at you.” He probably had learned these words from his mother.

This was teasing from his mother, and of course, she hadn’t eaten his candy. But how beautifully it backlit the generous spirit of this little boy. He couldn’t understand why his mother would take his treasure, and he registered his complaint, but let that go as love for his mum gained the victory.

This was a YouTube clip that someone sent me, and while I don’t like the trick played on the little boy, it does remind me of how God tests our hearts to reveal what is there. With this lad, the deepest layer in his heart was forgiveness, love, and trust in his mother.

I wish I was more like him. When God takes away something I’ve treasured, I lodge many complaints, employing every bit of logic I can dredge up, to show why he shouldn’t do that.

I may weep or rage or sulk before I finally confront my fundamental choice: will I believe that God is capricious and hurtful, or can I trust that his action is for a greater good – for me and for others?

Can I remember his merciful love and trust in his goodness? How quickly can I return to the ground of my being: that God is God; that he loves beyond my comprehension; that whatever he does or allows is for love.

I suspect that many of us felt like God took away our “Halloween candy” in these past two years—our travels, unencumbered visits with family and friends, unquestioned health and security, the wide variety of engagements and endless possibilities.

Sometimes it takes suffering or deprivation to bring us to a profound gratitude for the true gifts of God—our faith, the beauty of our sacramental Church, the love we share with others that cannot be taken from us.

And perhaps the greatest gift is a growing awareness that we live and move and have our being in the tender loving mercy of our God.

Unlike the Halloween candy, this faith can never be stolen or consumed. I’m just sorry to admit that it takes me a lot longer than this sweet boy before I put my hands on God’s Face and say, “It’s OK—I’m not mad. I trust you.”