“I wanna purple!”
The plaintive cry of a four-year-old could have been easily misconstrued for something of incredible importance. Her tears were real, and her need seemed to be as well.
She wanted a purple jelly bean.
We spent time with some friends and family, and John, being the consummate Papa, pulled out all the stops to engage the kids. Make ’em happy so they’ll remember this as the fun house.
When he pulled out the container of gourmet jelly beans, 41 flavors of fun, eyes grew wide and smiles grew wider.
Jelly beans, it seem, are a universal language.
We’d had a relaxing dinner that was kid friendly followed by desserts that should have whet the whistles of the most demanding child.
There are two ways of eating these tiny morsels of unique flavor. Some picked through the container, comparing the picture with the flavor sought, and eating with relish. Others grabbed handfuls of beans and shoved them all in their mouths at once, mixing flavors and colors, seeking the sugar rush rather than the flavor blast.
When the little one was crying over her need for a purple, her parents were shaking their heads, making adult comments like, “No more sugar, honey. It’s too close to bedtime.”
She was inconsolable. We talked over her wailing until we realized we didn’t need to talk over the din. She’d stopped. With a grin on her face.
Dad broke. She got her purple.
People are a lot like jelly beans. Made of basically the same stuff. Sugar and spice and everything nice. (No, that’s just girls.) We are pretty much the same, though–made in the image of God. We have different stories with a variety of settings, different ways of doing things because of culture, and our diversity of looks comes from histories we’ve not had any control over.
There are those folks who get along with everyone. The ones that see the jar full of variety and become excited about the fun mix of flavors different people bring to the table. Others have been raised with only one or two flavors, and they’re hesitant to try new things only because they’ve not experienced new taste options.
And there will always be those who just don’t eat sugar.
The three main ingredients of jelly beans are sugar, corn syrup and food starch. Then they add flavors and color.
That’s what we experience–the different flavors and colors of each other. Our differences make life rich and enjoyable. We all add to the mix.
I may not like the pomegranate or sour cherry flavors, but when I mix them with spicy cinnamon or buttered popcorn, they taste amazing.
I just have to be willing to try them.
I know I can’t reduce life to pieces of candy. Too simple.
But if we could see one another as an opportunity to experience a new story, as God intended us to be able to do, we might find that we appreciate and value each other more than we expected.
How sweet would that be?