Monday, September 23, 2013
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40
I know the day is coming when my seven year old will be faced with the sad reality of bullying, cliques and the "popular" kids in school. For now he's in the blissful world of second grade where the seed of social tension has not yet blossomed. Part of me wishes I could shelter him from this but I know that's not practical or healthy. It's so hard for me to look at his precious face and know the days of his innocence are numbered.
I still remember what it felt like for me as a young girl when I first experienced the cruelty of my classmates. It broke my heart as I listened to the popular girls call me ugly. They thought it was funny to leave me a hateful note in my Valentine's box or to make fun of my hair and clothes in front of other students.
Although I've forgiven these girls, some of the memories still make my 32 year old heart heavy, proof that words are indeed powerful. Those girls had no idea what was going on in my home; no idea what I was facing in my personal life. They were completely unaware that they were adding new wounds on top of existing wounds as they tore me down to lift themselves up. I often tell my boys "You never know what's going on in someone's life". It's true.
If someone is socially "different", then there's usually a good reason. And if the only reason they are "different" is because God made them that way, then that's all the more reason to love them, even if it's hard or out of our comfort zone.
Last year, Isaac told me about a boy in his class who gets in trouble a lot. He told me that the boy had behaved so badly they had to call his dad. I could tell by his tone of voice that he was confused about this boy's behavior. He just didn't understand why a child would act in such a way. I then told him that not every child comes from a loving home and that some children are going through a lot in their lives that others can't see. I explained that these personal struggles can cause them to misbehave or act strange. I asked Isaac to imagine how hard that would be for a young boy. Isaac's face looked sad and compassionate. I then told him that he should find ways to love this "misbehaving" classmate of his.
A couple of weeks later Isaac told me he had learned that the boy was from a foster home (he knows what that means) and that his dad was actually a foster dad. Life had confirmed what his momma had taught him and I could see the light bulb had come on in his young heart. I then lovingly explained that it doesn't matter if a child at his school misbehaves, dresses strange, acts weird, talks funny or even smells bad, you don't EVER make fun of him or her. (I knew he hadn't teased this boy but this message needed to be said before the temptation ever arises.) I also taught him how to cope if he is ever teased or bullied and to stand up for himself without being violent. Then, I looked him in his beautiful brown eyes and told him what I wish someone had told me at his age:
...that his identity is completely found in Christ, his Creator, and that no one can touch that or take it away.
I could tell he understood what I was trying to say. In that moment I realized God was using my past hurt to slowly mold and shape this sweet young boy of mine into a godly man. It's one of my favorite things about God. He takes our pain and turns it into something beautiful.
Now it is up to Isaac to make a choice. Will he listen to the wisdom of his mom or will he succumb to the social pressures he's sure to face? I have confidence that he will do just fine and I can't wait to see what God does through this amazing child (and his equally amazing little brother!).
Posted by Jennifer Legate at 9:13 AM