It’s Okay to Be Sad

It’s almost Christmas, which means that in order for me to maintain sanity, I HAD to clean out some toys before we get inevitably receive a fresh batch.  I filled three small boxes with toys that the boys don’t really play with, and were basically just taking up space, and put them in the back of my car for a goodwill drop off.

Well.  My original plan was to take the toys when the boys were not with me, but I realized that the longer they sat in the back of my car, the likelier it was that Henry would find them… so I took the first opportunity I had, and the boys and I headed to Goodwill last Saturday. I had a plan to discreetly drop the toys, purposely keeping them out of sight of the boys…

Until I arrived, and the nice man offered to help me carry the boxes – he had no reason to be discreet.  Henry immediately realized that his toys were being given away, and… TEARS.  Big ones.  Crocodile tears.  For like 15 minutes straight, and then off and on for a couple of hours after that he cried, and repeatedly said, “I want my animals back.”  (Sadly, I don’t even remember which “animals” I gave away, but I am pretty sure he was referring to some stuffed animal baby toys.)  I had a brief moment of, “Maybe I should get them back, but it was too late.”

Wow.  I have to be honest, I had nooooo idea he would take it so hard.  I felt really bad.  Maybe I should have told him that’s what we were doing?  Maybe I should have explained to him beforehand why we were giving them away.  Regardless, the counseling started after the damage had been done.

I had to put myself in his shoes.  In Henry’s world, his toys really do belong to him.  And in his world, those toys are pretty much all he has.  Of course as the parent, I know that he doesn’t really own them because I own them, and I know that he can be happy without them. After all, he has parents and family that adore him.  But then, how would I feel if my stuff just started getting taken away from me without my permission?

Let’s be honest, I get grumpy when Matt takes a sip of my drink without asking.

And I realized how much I just want to put a bandage over the sore and make the crying stop.  I just wanted him to feel better- during those few 20 minutes I was tempted to 1- buy him another toy, 2- give him candy, 3- tell him all the 100s of reasons why he would be okay and just needed to stop crying.  But I realized that he needs to learn how to just be sad.  So I told him, “Henry, it’s okay to be sad.”

Don’t we need to learn the same lesson?  Life has sorrow and joy all mixed in… we are missing out on it if we only let ourselves feel the joy.  Sometimes we just need to let ourselves grieve, to let it be okay that we are sad. Instead I think I often try to bandage my wounds with distractions and things that don’t really solve the problem, just like I was tempted to do for Henry.

Oddly enough, the minute I told him it was okay to be sad, he cheered up a little.

I learned more about the nature of my Heavenly Father through this little incident.  For one, God knows that in order for me to be happy, I need far less than I think I do.  If he chooses for whatever reason to take things or people away, he knows that as long as he is my Daddy, I have all I need.  And although in my world, I really think I am entitled to some of these things, my Father knows that they all really belong to him anyway.

But when I lose things or get upset, even though he knows I don’t need them, he never just tells me to just get over it.  When Jesus’s friends on earth grieved, he grieved alongside them.  When Mary and Martha lost their brother, Lazarus, Jesus wept. Jesus himself GRIEVED.  I think God may be more accepting of our own sadness than we are.

I feel like I should tie up this story with a pretty bow.  So here it is- Henry hasn’t mentioned the toys once since that day.  I know he hasn’t forgotten (and I might never drive him through Goodwill again), but it looks like the little guy is gonna be just fine.  I know you were wondering. 🙂




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