I would like to say that my reason for having hundreds of children’s books is that I have two small children; however, I owned most of these books pre-children, pre-marriage. I’ve always loved children’s books, and I am sure I’ll continue collecting even when my own children have moved on to Seamus Heaney and Mary Oliver (fingers crossed…).
In college, I wrote three senior theses (true confession!), and I continued my lit studies in grad school—I was hooked on finding deeper meaning in every piece of literature that came my way.
And then I had babies.
You can guess what that meant: my reading time declined substantially, and even when I had time to read, I didn’t always have the brain power. So I contented myself with finding meaning in board books. My favorite to date is Corduroy, by Don Freeman.
You see, Corduroy is a stuffed bear living in a department store, hoping to be purchased. A little girl, Lisa, comes along, interested in him, but her mother (like God’s Law) points out what Corduroy hadn’t noticed before—his flaws. He is missing a button. So he tries to fix himself. He does everything he can to make himself acceptable so that he can be loved (just as we try to fix ourselves through discipline, good works, whatever). Sadly, he fails and finds himself back where he started except that now he knows how unlovable he truly is.
And then, Lisa shows up again! She tells Corduroy that she is going to pay for him with her very own money. As Jesus paid the price for our sins, Lisa pays the price for Corduroy. She decides he is lovable, and that makes him lovable. She welcomes him into her home and shows him the place she created and intended for him—she has given Corduroy a new identity. Just like God has welcomed us into his family, providing us with a new identity. And then she fixes Corduroy’s button (like God sanctifies us).
Just like Corduroy has a new outlook on life because of Lisa’s love, we have a new outlook because of God’s love and the promises that await.
Am I reading too much into this? Maybe. If so, I’m okay with that because I want to be in the practice of seeing grace and the Gospel in all areas of my life. I am learning this from reading Paul Miller who advises looking for Jesus everywhere and trying to find his grace.
I’ll probably always love this book and think it’s a sweet story with a sweet message, because, like Corduroy, “I’ve always wanted a friend.”
Where do you see God’s grace today? In what unexpected places have you noticed Jesus? What are areas of your life that you aren’t sure you could find potential for redemption? Would you ask Jesus today to give you faith to believe in redemption of that space?