A grandfather recently told a story about his granddaughter, Peachy, who had just turned five. She has carried around a baby Jesus doll from a very young age. Unfortunately, she is an orphan because both her mother and father died in a car accident not too long ago.

When she was about two years old, her mother gave her a baby Jesus doll that was used in a Christmas play at church. Due to her young age, Peachy called him “Dedus” because she hadn’t yet mastered the English pronunciation of His name. When someone would try to correct her by saying that His name Jesus, Peachy would respond, “No, his name is Dedus.

Dedus is not a very big doll, only twelve inches long. Over time he has lost his gown and long hair, but his rubber ring halo was still attached to his head. That didn’t bother Peachy. She loved him for who he was, not how he looked. Her grandfather admitted that he ended up calling him Dedus out of respect for his little granddaughter. However, at the age of five, she has begun to understand who the historic Jesus really is and that her baby is a representation of Him. She has been offered and given new, expensive and fancy dolls which lay untouched in a corner of her room because Dedus is the most one important one to her.

People have tried to entice and bribe her away from Dedus, all to no avail. Grandpa said that he has never tried to offer her another doll. If she really wants a new one, it will have to come from inside her little heart. But why worry? Perhaps Dedus is meeting all her needs and in him, she is completely satisfied; she never shows any attention to other dolls and is not much interested in other toys or activities which don’t involve her Dedus. When she is shown other Jesus dolls with a robe, hair, and a halo, she’s not interested because Dedus is her Jesus.

No matter where Grandpa takes Peachy, she is forever holding her baby Dedus up to passing strangers. The other day we drove through McDonald’s where she got her Happy Meal, and while she was looking down stuffing her beautiful little face with french fries, she never missed a beat when we passed another car to keep feeding herself with the left hand and holding up Dedus with the right so that the people driving by could see him.

But if you want to see the cutest thing in the world, you should see her when grandpa takes her into a store and she has her Dedus with her. Every time somebody comes near her she holds Dedus up to them at arm’s length and will keep looking at them until they recognize her doll so she can proudly tell them who he is. In most cases, they will respond to her in a very friendly way. It’s not your average child’s type of doll and they often ask her where did you get him? She just replies “from my Mama.”

Peachy has beautiful blue eyes and medium length loose curls of white blonde hair; even when people who pass by are in a hurry, they will look back, appreciate, and study those eyes. So naturally nine out of ten people who see that adorable scene lean down to her and say, “You’re such a beautiful girl,” or some such things, often flattering her. She doesn’t seem to care at all about compliments to herself but she takes great pride and satisfaction when they compliment Dedus.

Grandpa said he still hasn’t figured out the true relationship between Peachy and Dedus. He woke up from a dream one night with the thought that the girl is suffering those feelings of abandonment and that the displaying Dedus is an enactment of her hidden desire for her mother to be in her life and available to love her, to be proud of her and to show the world how important her baby is to her as the mother. Maybe that is what she has missed in her life and she is compensating for it by living out that desire through Dedus. In her imagination, Peachy assumes the role of her mother and the baby symbolizes Peachy herself. Or perhaps it’s no more complicated than a little girl loves her doll and wants everybody to know it.

She knows more now about Jesus from Sunday school and it just makes her even prouder of her Dedus. She refuses to call Dedus by the correct pronunciation of Jesus. And that’s fine with everyone who knows her. They have come to appreciate her attachment to baby Dedus because they realize that he is no imaginary person, but a real person to Peachy. That’s why his unique name Dedus has had a profound effect on everyone.

Early in the evening Peachy goes to prepare Dedus for bed and tuck him in. Grandpa always gives them that time alone. But one night he stayed by the door to see how she put Dedus to bed. After laying him down and covering him up, in her little voice as sweet as an angel she sang him to sleep with the only song she knew and in which she does pronounce the name correctly when she sings: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” So one night, Grandpa secretly recorded it and played it for relatives at their big family Christmas get together. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

Peachy knows the difference between Jesus and Dedus, but she might know something else that we don’t fully understand: that Jesus the Man and Dedus the doll may be much more closely connected than the rest of us realize. This little raggedy doll may have been thrown away long ago by some but not by Peachy, he has a very important place in her life. To others, maybe he should be replaced, but not to Peachy. Their connection is unbreakable.

What this story has helped me understand is that Jesus is not just a religious historical figure to all Christians, but that to each Christian He has a special meaning. When believers gather together to worship Jesus, it’s not just the Jesus in the picture up on the wall, but the Jesus that they hold dearly in their hearts. To all of us as a group Jesus is our Savior, Lord, and Master, but to us individually Jesus is a personal friend to whom we may have given a special name. Don’t worry if others don’t understand, it’s what you and your Jesus understand that is most important. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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