The other day, Jessie woke from her nap crying. Seeing as this is quite uncharacteristic of her, I went up to her room to investigate.
“What’s wrong, Sweet Pie? Why are you crying?”
In between her heavy sobbing she snorted, “I—I—I wish I—I—wish I had a Snow White dress!”
Trying to keep from sniggering at the comically intense drama of her desire, I investigated further, “A Snow White dress? You’re crying because you don’t have a Snow White Dress? I don’t understand.”
“Well, I really like Snow White,” her fingers waving through the air as she explained with intensity, “And I don’t have a Snow White dress. I have a cape and Snow White wears a cape, but I don’t have a Snow White dress.”
“Your grandma and grandpa have a Snow White dress at their house that you get to wear sometimes, don’t they?”
Jessie, matter-of-factly responded, “Yes, but I want one that is mine, that I can keep and put on whenever I want.”
“Ladybug, you have been given so many wonderful gifts and you have a bin of dress-up clothes, like your Cinderella dress. “
“Yes, but I don’t have Snow White.”
Aware that I had stepped into a moment ripe for teaching, I replied, “Jessie, do you realize that some children don’t have any dress-up clothes?” She nodded. “And they would be thrilled to have just one of your fancy outfits.”
“I know, mama.”
“It is natural to have desires and to want things. But sometimes we can get so focused on the stuff we don’t have that we forget to be grateful for all the amazing things we do have,” I offered.
“I know, mama,” she answered again, this time hanging her head.
“Hey! I have an idea. How ‘bout we go through your dress-up bin and look at all the cool things you do have?”
“Okay!” Jessie enthusiastically reacted with a smile and hopped out of bed to get her bin.
One-by-one we pulled out each of her frilly items, oohing and aahing over every piece, “Wow! Look at this pretty bride dress,” I exclaimed. “Oh my! You even have a pink wand.”
“Actually, I have three wands,” Jessie observed. “I want to keep my purple wand, but do you think I could give this wand to one of those kids that doesn’t have dress-up clothes?” she said, picking up the pink wand.
“I think that is a wonderful idea, Jess. And I love your heart,” I encouraged while feeling hopeful that our conversation may have been helping to shape her heart. I continued, “Gosh! Look at all that we have to be grateful…” as the words escaped my lips, I became incredibly aware of how much my conversation with Jessie needed to be shaping my heart.
Just prior to Jessie waking from her nap I had been sitting on our couch bemoaning some of our circumstances where eyes of jealousy had captured my longings for something more; this was not only leaving me discontent, but also completely ungrateful for all that I have been given, especially pertaining to said circumstances. I realized I’d been crying out for a Snow White dress without recognizing the incredible dress-up clothes I already have.
What helps you maintain a heart of contentment?