There I was, a little girl standing before Jesus, with a basket in my arms. My basket of loaves and fishes. Everything I had to offer was in that basket.
As Jesus stretched out his hands for my basket, I hesitated. Dipping my chin, I took one last look at my offering. Suddenly, shame covered my small frame like a wool coat five sizes too big.
I had worked hard to fill that basket. And while I felt the weight of all my attempts to get it right, to do something good, to bring something special, my basket was filled with nothing but moldy crumbs and eyes and scales and bones. It might as well have been empty.
I wanted to run, to disappear, to make excuses – but there’s none of that nonsense when you’re face to face with Jesus. Shaking and uncertain, I looked up at him through tears. What would he say? What would he do? Would he be disappointed? Or angry? Would he yell? Or shake his head and pass me by?
Oh sweet Jesus. He smiled. Full-toothed, big and bright. A smile that throws open windows to the universe and warms your insides at the same time. He received my broken bits with joy. The kind of joy with which a parent might accept their child’s gift of a mud-covered rock or a crushed dandelion.
The cloak of shame vanished and I stood a little taller, returning his smile with my own. Then he invited me to sit next to him.
“Thank you so much for your gift,” he said.
“You’re welcome,” was my quick response and then, “But…I’m sorry. It’s just broken bits and…garbage. I thought I was bringing something better…but then when I got here…I saw it for real somehow.”
He smiled again. “Actually, that happens to everyone. It’s ok. I love it because you gave it to me.”
“But what good is it? What does it matter if it’s just garbage?” I asked.
“Well,” he said, “First, nothing done with love is ever just garbage. Even the tiniest, most broken attempts to love matter – love changes you, changes the world. And it matters to me.”
We sat silently for a moment while I thought about that. Then he ever so gently said, “I know the heart of every giver and so I know the heart behind every gift. Broken people living in a broken world give broken gifts, even when they try really hard to do everything right. So you can keep giving, freely, without fear or shame. I won’t be angry or disappointed. I love you, even though you’re broken, and I love when you open your heart to give.”
I couldn’t find my words, so I kept silent.
Then Jesus said, “Just one more thing..”
Still deep in thought I waited for him to go on.
“When you do give,” he said, “Remember to really let go. Leave your offering with me and trust me with it. What I do with it is up to me. OK?”
Then he nudged me with his elbow. “Besides, I can do some pretty awesome things with a handful of eyes and old bones.”
My eyes widened and I whipped my head to look at him. He just threw his head back and laughed and laughed. A big belly laugh. Then before I knew it, I was laughing, too. Imagine that. Me and Jesus, together, talking and laughing over my basket of broken things.
©️Nichole Q Perreault 2020