Skittles

In the supermarket checkout line, a small boy surveys the candy options.  He selects a bag of Skittles and places them on the conveyor belt.  The cashier checks with the boy’s dad, who nods his approval.  The boy runs off to look at the flashing lights of the supermarket lotto machine.

As checkout is happening, the boy briefly returns to make sure his candy is still at the register.  Then he’s off again, until the purchase is completed.  He digs through the bags to find his prize, and skips off in victory.

Dad reminds the boy to save the candy for later.  Walking backwards, the boy smirks at his dad and grabs the bag as if to tear it open.  At this point dad hustles son out of the store.  The conclusion to this drama happens elsewhere.

***

I giggled as I saw the boy check on his candy.  I might have raised my eyebrows a bit as I saw how he dared his dad to catch him opening it.  As a parent, I’ve certainly put in my time in these negotiations (I’d love to see seasoned diplomats try to work with a three-year-old.)

Movies and books are full of characters chasing a prize, much like this little boy.  However, in movies/books, we often find the one with the prize changing for the worse once it is won.  Observe the character Gollum in The Lord of the Rings:  having acquired his “precious” the ring, he finds himself worse off than if he’d never touched it in the first place.  It was amazing to see how the acquisition of candy quickly changed the little boy from a cute bouncy kid into an imp.  Dad did not find the boy’s antics amusing!

Jesus said, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  (Matthew 6:21) Often we think of treasure in terms of money or things (candy, clothes, cars.)  What if our “treasure” is not the item itself, but rather the energizing feeling of possessing something?  And by extension, what if our heart simply yearns for the power of possession?

I don’t think it’s a bad thing to like cars or clothes or candy.  Personally, I enjoy seeing a well-kept vintage automobile cruising the highway.  I fell in love with some maple candies a colleague brought me from Canada.

However, the pride of possessing something can overwhelm the owner and turn personal relationships sour (think of the expensive and beloved car in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.)  The spark of love can, if not managed, become a raging fire of possessiveness and jealousy for one partner, and a slow burn of resentment for the other.  Sadly, the pride of possessing a treasure (car, relationship, anything really) can become a disease that hardens our heart.

It happens so quickly … we get our hands on something and the experience changes us for the worse.  Perhaps that’s why Jesus warned us to be careful of what we treasure, and  to watch what is happening to our hearts.

What is your most precious possession?  Does having it empower you to be a better person, or has the experience changed you for the worse?

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