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God loves the bad guys, too

God doesn't love bad guys, does he Mama," she asked, saying it more as a statement than a question. As of late, my four year old daughter obsesses over good guys and bad guys.

Though I knew she wouldn't understand, I answered, philosophically, "I think God loves the bad guys very much; just as much as he loves you, and that's a lot. He wants to make them into good guys."

"Oh," she said.

She trotted away, intent on cutting scrap paper, salvaged from the waste basket, into large piles of tiny confetti, and I reluctantly went to the laundry room to work my way through an iceberg of clothes.

A few moments later, scissors still in hand, she popped her curly head through the doorway and surprised me out of my reverie. "Well, we don't love bad guys, do we Mama."

It seems, while I stood ankle deep in dirty garments, cogitating on how to invent reasonably priced disposable clothing for children, my daughter had mused on issues of love. She caught me a bit off guard, but after taking a few seconds to consider an appropriate answer, which I, again, felt might not muster meaning for her, I assured her, "God wants us to love everyone, not just the people who love us."

"What if we don't?"

"I'm not sure," I said.

"God gets mad at us if we don't, doesn't he?"

"No, honey, God loves us. If we have a hard time loving bad people, he probably works on our hearts a little harder." Despite squirming under the bright interrogation bulb, I felt confident that I had finally answered all her questions satisfactorily. But she wasn't so easily dismissed.

"What does God do to our hearts," she asked, sounding like little Cindy Lou Who addressing the Grinch, setting me up for the perfect reply.

"He makes our hearts grow bigger."

I continued with my chore, watching, through her bright blue eyes, the cogs in her brain turning like she had a full head of hyperactive grease monkeys. Then her face glowed with excitement.

"And when our hearts get bigger we get smaller." As she said this, she put her hands over the left side of her chest and spread them wide, then squatted down to the floor. Her poise, self-assurance and wisdom took the breath out of me. I stood there holding my husband's socks in my right hand, my lips unable to express my awe.

As I grappled my way through our conversation, myself attempting to get a meaningful grasp on the relationship between God and bad guys, my youngest child intuitively accepted, digested and expanded on my words in an amazing and unexpected way.

I smiled broadly, kissed her forehead, gave her a squeeze and whispered, "Thanks."

A quizzical expression flitted across her countenance, then she relented, "Okay Mama, I love the bad guys, too."

"God will like that, honey," I encouraged, my mind already working hard to wrap itself around what had taken place between us.

"But I still don't care for them very much," she exasperatedly breathed. Then she scooted off to frost the bathroom faucet with pink, princess toothpaste, leaving me to ponder our brief moment of grace.

I wondered about my own heart and whether I look small in my daughter's eyes. And I hoped so hard that she believes I'm one of the little people of the world.

But I know, in reality, it's a long and painful process to ultimately become one of the good guys.

Web posted on Thursday, March 9, 2006

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