“It’s a special deal we have on right now. If you spend $75 on Star Wars Lego you get this limited edition rare and super hard to find Darth Vader pod for FREE!”
We heard the words of the sweet sales lady on the other side of the counter and wanted to take her up on her offer, but our level heads and our Lego store budget spoke louder than she did.
“That sounds great, but we’ll have to pass today. Thanks.”
We left the store with a slightly deflated and disappointed gaggle of young boys trailing behind us.
The Darth Vader pod was eventually a distant memory; until my husband found it on eBay days before our son’s birthday.
“He wouldn’t even believe it, wouldn’t that be a great gift to surprise him with?”
The thought and effort behind the search for the Darth Vader pod was a gift in itself.
We were so excited to give it to him. We had visions of him handing his slightly worn current Darth Vader to his brother while saying, “Oh man, awesome! Now we can play together!”
Side by side they’d for sure harmoniously battle the galaxy.
“It’s here!!!” He yelled as he burst into my bedroom holding the long awaited mail in his hands. Brothers surrounded him and waited in great anticipation for him to rip open the packaging.
The pod was splendid, complete with a holographic image on the front, it was even cooler in real life than we had imagined.
“Hey, now you can give your old Darth Vader to your brother like we already talked about.” Dad said.
Yeah… about that… unfortunately, things don’t always play out how you want them to.
Instead of handing over old Darth, we watched the face of our boy morph from glee and thankfulness into rage within an instant.
“What? No way. Now I have two. I don’t want to give him one, it’s my birthday, these things are all mine.” Mine, mine mine…
We shouldn’t have been so shocked, but in the moment, it felt so sad to watch greed become the victor and unfold before our very eyes. Selfishness… it’s such a rotten natural human characteristic.
The next hour included some spirited discussion, some tears, a lot more discussion, and a few conclusions of, “We share in our family because that’s who we are. We have stuff, to give stuff, and we do it with a willing heart, not by throwing it in somebody’s face and yelling, ‘Fine, take it! See if I care!'”
These big blow ups, they’re a pain, and they usually happen at the worst possible times throughout the day. But, they are important for character development and they serve as yet another lesson on how to become a good human being. Generosity is a big heart issue that I should be welcoming the chance to work on with him now, while he is still young.
Undoubtedly there will be many more opportunities for character lessons that will feel exhausting, but we’ll keep faithfully working on this ginormous God given undertaking of raising boys to become good men.
It turns out that the exhausting work is often the most important work.
He came around you know. He always does. His angry lizard brain settled. He eventually willingly and kindly gave his old Darth Vader to his brother with strict instructions on ‘cape care.’ His heart took a few hours to move over from the dark side, and then we all simply moved on to the next thing.
Deuteronomy 15:7-8 summed it up pretty nicely. “Suppose someone is poor among you. And suppose they live in one of the towns in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Then don’t be mean to them. They are poor. So don’t hold back money from them. Instead, open your hands and lend them what they need. Do it freely.”
I think a super paraphrased version of those verses for brothers learning generosity could also read like this:
Suppose someone doesn’t have as much stuff as you do.
Suppose you have all of the LEGO figurines and he has none. Suppose someone also lives in your immediate family and it goes against all of your natural instincts to be kind to him… even then, especially then, choose to be kind. Be the nicest to the people who live inside your very home.
Don’t hold back being generous to him, sharing with him, caring FOR him, and about him.
Open up your by nature, greedy little fists, and train them to be wide open hands that love to give. Keep on practicing the art of sharing, lending, and helping.
And do it with a kind and willing heart because it’s the right thing to do, and the way our family is going to choose everyday to live our lives.
By late afternoon they were playing together and dressing up their Darths in ridiculous LEGO Halloween costumes. There they were on their bedroom floor, laughing over all of the hilarious modifications they were making on their mini-figures.
The peaceful play and memory making did come to pass, eventually. Sometimes it just takes a little bit longer to get there.