Evenings with family come and go, but one clings to my memory with leech-like tenacity. I don't mind that memory, though, because it was the night I first understood God's grace beyond the limits of my intellect and began to understand it with my heart.
I had only been married a few months, and my wife's ten-year-old brother, John, came over to have dinner and spend the night. Since Amy's parents divorced when John was very young, she and her brother had developed a special closeness. But after our wedding, Amy and John rarely got to spend time together. So we planned an evening for them that would also help me build a friendship with John.
That night as Amy buzzed around our tiny kitchen, John "helped" her by sticking his fingers into pie meringue and hovering between the kitchen and the dinner table. I could see they were relishing their special closeness, but I felt left out. I passed the time by trying to set the table, squeezing between John and Amy. John didn't notice me trying to get around him on each trip to the kitchen.
Finally, I snapped, "John! Can't you get out of my way?"
I watched him shrink in surprise, as if facing some B-grade movie monster. I was, after all, angry, and he hadn't seen that before. He took a seat out of the way, and none of us spoke much for the rest of the evening.
Later, while Amy and I were brushing our teeth, I asked if something was wrong.
She shot back at me: "Why did you yell at Johnny?"
"I didn't really yell, I … "
"Wes, your eyes were like ice and you bit his head off. I thought for a second that I didn't even know you."1