“My hand hurts! My hand hurts!”
Giana held up her tiny palm as high as she could as I stooped down to examine the wound. There was a tiny circle of skin near the top of her wrist that was slightly reddened, but nothing more. “How did this happen, Giana?” I asked patiently.
“A few days ago I hurt it,” she replied noncommittally.
I tilted my head and looked at her quizzically. “You did this a few days ago and it just started bothering you now?” Giana nodded mournfully. “Giana, you’ve been here for an hour and a half and you didn’t say a thing about it until just now.”
“It didn’t hurt then,” she insisted, then added determinedly, “I need a Band-Aid.”
“The skin isn’t even broken,” I pointed out. “A Band-Aid won’t do you any good.”
Giana just vigorously nodded her head. “Yes it will.”
I sighed. “Giana, Band-Aids are just pieces of sticky plastic. They’re meant to keep open wounds covered up and safe from dirt. They won’t make your hand feel any better.”
“Yes they will,” she repeated, more loudly this time, then grimaced. “Ouch!” she said, waving the offending appendage around as if she could shake the pain out of it. “Ouch! I need a Band-Aid!”
At that point I knew that any further explanation was pointless, so I brought her a Band-Aid and let her apply it to her grievously damaged hand. The instant that little adhesive strip touched her skin, she was all smiles again. One minute she was acting like she needed an amputation, the next she was cutting and pasting a bizarrely elaborate “butterfly” out of an old worksheet, using her “injured” hand as if there was nothing really wrong with it in the first place.
Of course, that couldn’t be the case, could it?
As an adult I couldn’t help but shake my head in amusement at Giana’s misinformed desire for a Band-Aid, until I realized that I often act in much the same way. When something comes along that causes me pain or discomfort, I have my Band-Aids that I turn to for comfort. Never mind that that’s not what they were made to do. Never mind that the things that are hurting me are only temporary, nothing deeper than the skin. I need a Band-Aid, and I need it now.
So go grab the music, the video games, the television shows. Plug me into the Internet and fire up YouTube, Facebook, StumbleUpon. Just find me a Band-Aid, because someone insulted me, I made a mistake, I’m stressed out right now and I need something to make me feel better. No, God, you don’t understand. It’s not going to be fine, it’s not just a scrape, and it’s not going to get better if I let you take care of it. It’s a big deal, and a Band-Aid is the only solution. I want one with Yoda on it.
I imagine that God feels much like I did when I looked down at little Giana, shaking her arm all around, almost on the verge of tears for the want of a Band-Aid. I can see myself standing there like Giana, holding up my bruised confidence or my shattered expectations for Him to inspect. I can hear my little voice, so confident in my own rightness, explaining that I just need a Band-Aid, and I can hear Him tell me gently, “Tim, you don’t need a Band-Aid. I know how it feels to you, believe me. I know that you think you understand the problem, that you think you have the perfect solution, but if you knew what I know you’d really understand. You need to get up, to keep going, to learn to deal with and grow through the scrapes, the bumps, the disappointments and disillusionments of life. You need to trust me when I say that it won’t hurt for long, that things will be okay, and that you need to stop putting your trust in all those useless Band-Aids that are just getting in the way of the life I made you to live. If you persevere, you’ll come out of this soon, and then you’ll look back and realize that it wasn’t so terrible after all, that all you really needed to make it through was me.”
And in my childish mind I think, that couldn’t be the case.