The drive home from Little Rock was quiet after his heart broke and shame spilled out into the space between the his perch in the back seat and mine in the driver’s.
“I must of done something wrong, Mom, I’ll try to be better….to be better. Why did they take all my food away?” He cried and said he was sorry…that he would try harder. I did what moms do- I comforted, I quieted…I told him it would all be all right.
But when he finally slept- exhaustion and the after-effects of anesthesia taking over- I wept fear.
We were traveling home from Arkansas Children’s Hospital with news that crushed my little boy’s heart. He had been so good….he had followed all their rules…eaten only chicken and rice for six weeks, but the little section the surgeon had snuck in and stolen from his insides and the pictures they’d taken while they were there told of story of an overactive immune system that was attacking any food. They wanted to take it all away…stick a pipeline of goopy elemental formula straight into his stomach and fingers crossed pray that would reboot his system.
I was outraged at the words the doctor used in front of my seven year old child. Words like “it’s clear he just can’t control himself” and “I am positive he hasn’t been sticking to the diet we prescribed” and “you are killing him with his food.” Words full of fear and shame. It split me open and awakened the hibernating bear-ess that was inside and I fired that man on the spot. I walked away from the appointment not knowing the ramifications of what I had done…the black stain of the doctor’s fear weighing heavily on my heart.
As Xander slept heavily in the back seat, I prayed. Dear God, heal my son…show me what to do now. This doctor was our hope. And then my prayer got really real…God, why is this happening to him? Don’t you love him? Don’t you love us?
I was deep in a wrestling match with God. Tuned out to any words of comfort He might actually have for me…the angry woman beating the chest of an embrace with her fists. Quietly, from the back seat comes my answer –
“Yellow jeep, God loves me.”
The “yellow jeep game” began as a leadership devleopment exercise my partner, Tim (bulletproofteams.com) and I were using to help demonstrate the power of “noticing.” We would go into a group and ask how many yellow jeeps they had seen that morning. Generally, the number was low for a the group- two or three. We would release the group for the day with the charge to count yellow jeeps. The next day the numbers would often be in the teens. We began to notice yellow jeeps everywhere.
At the time, I was at a place in my life where I needed to be consistently reminded of God’s love for me. So I prayed for God to send me a tangible sign of His love at the times when I most needed it…the Yellow Jeep. When I see one, I say out loud, “Yellow Jeep, God loves me!”
There are few other times in my life when I have needed to know God’s love for me than that moment. I looked out the driver’s side window, expecting to see a single jeep passing by on the highway….instead there, at the roadside jeep dealership, was a long row of them.
With each one we passed, Xander said “Yellow Jeep, God loves me!” Twelve times he said it….and then he said, quietly and full of grace-
“And guess what, Mom? He loves you, too.”
What’s your yellow jeep? Do you have a sign that reminds you that you are loved?