A Blog by Jennifer Aulthouse

A heart for those who want more of God. A desperate plea for those who don't.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Plea

“Good for nothing.”

My son thrust a piece of paper at me with these words on it, etched by his own hand, tears in his eyes, speaking of himself.

He’s 7.

I pulled him down to where I was sitting on the sofa and asked him to please tell me what caused this to come out. Not feeling like he’s as good at things as he should be; feeling like he’s always in the way when he just wants to help; feeling like he makes too many bad decisions.

This isn’t about parental guilt. I certainly took the time to reflect on what messages I’m sending him with my attitudes and responses. There are things to adjust and repent of, for sure. But this broken-hearted outburst wasn’t directed at me. Rather, he was coming to me desperate to know that what he’s hearing internally from the darkness in the world isn’t true.

As best as I could, I tried to give my boy both a soft place to land in his pain and the assurance of his worth, which I found myself more desperate to give than I think he was desperate to receive. We talked about the remarkable ways he’s gifted, how as he grows he’ll discover more things about himself that reveal God’s plans for him, and that there is certain to be things he’s just not going to be very good at but that this is okay. We also talked about intentionally doing something that bothers or hurts someone else and understanding that the reaction he receives because of his actions is based on those actions, not on his worth as a person. That if someone says or does something mean just to hurt him, it’s because she isn’t feeling very good about herself and making someone else feel bad is the only way she knows how to feel better. And that, unfortunately, we all do those things.

He felt better. He walked away smiling. I told him he needed to come back and do something with the paper he had written on: rip it up and dispose of it.

I sat there thinking about how a kid as bright and loved and gifted as he is can question such things; while he’s had a small handful of relational stinkers in his young life, he is surrounded with love.

A little while later, he said he wanted to give me a gift to show me that he loves me. He asked if I wanted some of his (still-not-finished-yet) Easter candy or if he should buy something for me. I took his face in my hands, and what I found myself saying to him was that “the best gift you can give me is for you to believe you are loved”.

Because if he believes it so, he won’t question my motives when I tell him not to do something that he wants to, or say something to him that in his mind contradicts what he understands to be true. He won’t wonder if I really have his best interests in mind, or if I’m carelessly dismissing how important something is to him even though maybe I won’t let him have it. When he hears adversarial messages telling him that he’s “good for nothing” and isn’t worth taking two steps for, he’ll know that those messages don’t have a shred of truth to them and that their origins are of darkness. He’ll know that when he has acted out of selfishness and rebellion, the discipline meted out to him is because I love and believe in him too much to let him think for one moment that this destructive behavior has anything beneficial to add towards producing the fruitful life, rich in character and spiritual abundance, that I envision he could have. That there’s a greater plan that’s bigger than his wants, and while maybe it’s hard for him to see why what he does is of any significance one way or the other, he’ll believe it so and order his life accordingly.

And because I’m human, he’ll know that when I fail to put committed parenting as a priority over something else that shouldn’t be, it’s because of my sinful choice, not his failure to be lovable.

He bears the responsibility to believe he is loved. I can tell him non-stop of my love, night and day, in countless ways, but he must make the decision for himself to be purposefully aware of what’s surrounding him. Including the unseen. Even if he can’t understand at the moment how any of what’s happening could possibly be out of love.

“The best gift you can give me is for you to believe you are loved.”

I don't think that came from me.

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