by Sarah May
There is beauty and difficulty in every stage of parenting. When we have littles, the beauty of the new life (that grows and develops so quickly) is balanced with exhaustion, and sometimes loneliness, as we work to meet their basic needs, love them well, and, on some days, just keep them alive. As they grow and become taller versions of who they once were, the beauty comes in seeing their talents, minds, and hearts grow and mature. The difficulty comes in helping them process all their emotions as they begin to understand the world better and try to see their place in it; all while praying we don’t screw them up too much.
I don’t know what it is about the sun going down, but, like the exhibits in Night at the Museum, that is when my oldest comes alive. Or at least when his questions do. There’s something about the end of the day drawing near (and the list of responsibilities accomplished) that gives his mind permission to begin thinking in overtime; or maybe, to finally concentrate on the thoughts that have been swimming around.
My first internal reaction to a particular conversation was, “I’m so sorry that part of my DNA crept into your precious soul.” However, the next reaction was, “we need to make sure he knows that his likes, his dislikes, his desires, his differences, (all of it), make him the exact being God needed in this world.”
The conversation, which stemmed from innocent comments from brothers and a friend about video games, sent this boy’s brain into a flurry of self-doubt. Why don’t I like video games as much as others? If I like them at all, will I get addicted? Is it ok to still like Legos, both building with them and playing with them? Why do I seem different? What is wrong with me?
There was much thankfulness that this time it was still about innocent subjects, but that will not always be the case. The foundation has been built with Legos, but as time goes by, different topics will initiate similar conversations. How do I know this? Because they still do in my life; and I’d bet the same is true for you. This scenario is not limited to tweenagers; it’s a struggle for us all. We look around, compare ourselves to others, and think, “I’m different, why is that? What is wrong with me?” But, like the lesson we learn when we accidentally open our phone camera in selfie-mode, the angle from which we view ourselves makes a huge difference.
You see, when we, or our children, come to the conclusion as above (that there is something wrong with us) it is because we are asking the wrong questions. Our job as parents is to guide our kids to stop looking around at the world and comparing themselves to others, and to instead look up and direct their questions to the One who created them. So, instead of, “I’m different, why is that? What is wrong with me?” we want to teach them to look from another angle and ask, “I’m different, why is that? What does God want for me?”
You have been set apart as holy to the Lord your God, and he has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be his own special treasure.
Because of Christ, we are set apart, holy, and with that comes the knowledge that, as Paul says in Galatians 1:15, “God, who had set me apart before I was even born, and who called me by his grace, is pleased.”
When that baby of yours, no matter how big they get, looks at you with those questioning eyes (that come when they are deep in thought about who they are), let them know this: It can be hard and confusing when something we do seems different, when something we think seems different, or if the way we look seems different. But, if we are in Christ, if his Spirit is living in us, then it’s not that we are ‘different’, it’s that we are ‘set apart’. “You are his own special treasure, created for a unique purpose, and you are exactly what He needed in this world.” We might not see it now – we might not fully understand it now – but we can begin to trust it now. Trust in what was created for us before the creation of the world, and trust that when we are his, He is pleased.