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Bryson's Reward

by Lisa Tuttle

The newspaper advertised a community Easter egg hunt, and Scott decided to take his three children. They arrived at the park half-an-hour before the designated start of the hunt, but already hundreds of children and parents milled about the field. He felt a twinge of disappointment as he read the age categories from the chart. Bryson would compete against six- and seven-year-olds. At six, he resembled a four-year-old in size and development. Sickly since birth, he’d struggled for every physical accomplishment. Heart surgery and years of physical therapy had improved his health, but children his age dwarfed him in size.

“Good thing we came early,” Scott told Bryson. “You can get a spot in the front row.”

Bryson followed his dad to the starting line and stood with the other children, smiling and eager. Scott left him standing on the starting line while he walked Bryson’s siblings to their locations. He returned to find Bryson pushed back to the seventh row.

Disheartened, he knelt beside the boy. “What happened, buddy? How did you get way back here?”

“The other kids wanted to be up front. They were pushing and shoving so I let them have my spot. I don’t mind being in the back.”

Scott sighed. Born with a gentle and generous spirit, Bryson never hesitated to share or give preference to other children, even if it meant sacrificing something important to him.

Knowing the crowd would overpower Bryson, Scott offered the boy a strategy. “When the gun sounds, run as fast as you can down the sideline. The other children will stop to pick up eggs. You run past them and get eggs from the other end of the field.”

Bryson, obedient to a fault, nodded. “Okay, Daddy.”

Minutes later, the gun exploded and children ran in every direction, scooping up eggs. Scott watched Bryson run for a moment then turned to search for his other children. The contest ended in less than two minutes.

With the fields swept clean of their pastel treasures, children returned to their parents. Scott’s oldest son arrived first, then his daughter. They waited together for Bryson. Other children rushed from the field designated to the six- and seven-year-olds, their bags bulging with eggs. Seeing their bounty, Scott had high expectations of Bryson’s success.

Soon, Bryson came into view. With a sweet, satisfied smile gracing his lips and chocolatey eyes alight with excitement, he approached their little huddle. Scott’s gaze fell upon Bryson’s bag. Only a few small lumps lined the bottom of the sack. His heart twisted in his chest. Bryson’s experience in life was to conduct himself politely when others were pushy, to remember to be considerate and kind when others were rude and aggressive, only to be cheated out of the reward he deserved. At that moment, life seemed unfair.

Bryson opened his bag and proudly showed the four eggs he’d collected—a pitiful reward for such innate goodness.

As was Scott’s habit, he downplayed the fact that Bryson’s performance was not as productive as the other children’s. He praised his son for running fast and being polite. He focused on the fun they’d had and pretended numbers didn’t matter.

Bryson showed no regret over his scant collection. With his trademark sweet smile, he examined his eggs, rolling them over in his hands.

As the hunt came to a close, the officials requested the contestants empty their eggs into their sacks and return the plastic shells for use again next year. They knelt down, and the children opened the eggs, exclaiming about the candy as they worked at the task.

Bryson, lacking strength in his hands and arms, struggled to pry his eggs apart. Scott leaned over to assist him and opened the first egg. A slip of paper fluttered to the ground.

Bryson picked it up and stared in confusion. “Paper? Why did they put paper in my egg?”

Scott took the slip from him and read. “You are the grand prize winner.”

Emotion flooded Scott’s heart as God reminded him that winning isn’t about being the fastest or the strongest. To God, winning is in the attitude.

Bryson went home with a shiny new bike.