As Jennifer hurried out the door for school that morning, she reminded me that I was welcome to some of her chocolates – as if I needed reminding!
Exercising a measure of discipline, I held off until mid-morning before going into Jennifer’s room to sample a tasty morsel. The large heart-shaped box of chocolates was red with a pink ribbon. One of the boys at school had given it to my sweet daughter for Valentine’s Day.
I opened the lid expecting to see a tempting variety of candies in dark, light, and medium chocolate, artfully arranged in separate sections of the treasure box. Instead, I saw that four chocolates were missing – presumably eaten – and each one that remained was squashed. The chocolate outer shells were broken, and the various fillings oozed out. Vanilla, cherry, caramel, coconut – all of them, cruelly exposed.
I, too, was crushed, for my anticipated bliss was denied. I had no appetite for a tortured chocolate, mostly because each of them had obviously been handled. I was baffled and waxed philosophical. ‘I, the mother who carried her for nine sacrificial months in my womb, have been taunted with an invitation to partake of Jennifer’s succulent bounty only to find it contaminated!
‘Why did she break the chocolates and then offer them to me? She’s never teased me like this before,’ I thought numerous times throughout the day. The mystery was solved as soon as she got home from school.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot to tell you, Mom. I only wanted to eat the flavors I really like. So I smashed them open with the back end of a butter knife. I didn’t touch them, though.”
It made perfect sense; the box didn’t come with a diagram of its contents.
As I was savoring a vanilla cream chocolate that evening, I thought of another time I was shocked about someone breaking something.
In Sunday school class I learned about shepherds breaking the legs of wayward lambs and then carrying them around on their shoulders until they’re able to walk again. I couldn’t get past the cruelty of actually breaking the limb of an innocent creature, whatever the reason.
I decided to rethink it. What was the why behind breaking a lamb’s leg? It was so that the lamb would stay close to the shepherd, as such lambs invariably do after they’ve healed, I remembered. As a result, instead of wandering around, endangering themselves, the beloved lambs stay safe.
Sitting on my couch, having barely swallowed the vanilla cream, I suddenly burst out laughing. God had used my love of chocolate to teach me something about His ways. I understood that those things in life that invariably tempt us to say “Why, God?” are the very things that make us desperate to stay close to Him. Those are the times that our insides are most appealing, being humbled and squishy -- hmm, like a broken caramel-filled chocolate.
I selected just such a treat from the Valentine box and chewed on it, too, for a while.
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