Anybody out there ever feel like you'll never convince a certain someone you know that this is true about him or her? (For the record, I'm not talking about myself in the mysterious third person.)
I'm carrying a deep ache for a sweet young man who cannot see the "wonderful" in himself. Forget talking through the promises of Scripture or even the "God don't make no junk" adage (which, while true, is horrific grammar that I don't think God made either). No message seems to permeate the heart core of this one in whom so many see potential but in himself, he cannot. In fact, the only thing that seems to get through are the myriad of negative comments -- spoken by others (just joking) and himself (not kidding) -- that plague his over-saturated mind with untruths that are difficult to erase.
Tough one, right? Platitudes and pithy statements like "He'll grow out of it" and "Just keep doin' what you're doin'" aren't helping him... or me. How do you help an adolescent "take every thought captive" when he can't even process everything he's thinking, let alone what others tell him to think about himself? Especially when his love language is words of affirmation (not condemnation)?
Occasionally, through the lens of punny and playful, I'll hear something that sounds like the truth about who he was created to be. Something about his uniqueness and different-ness that echoes the song being sung over him by his Creator while he was being formed in his mother's womb. Faint strains of a melody composed just for him. Oh, and when I do... how my heart sings too, the third above the melodic line, harmonizing with a less-than-subtle grin that he's found his song and he's content to march to the beat of a different drum.
But those moments feel too distant and disconnected. And I'm left again wondering, How can I help? What can I do? How do you love someone well who can't seem to be at peace with loving himself?
So here's what I've got: Pray. (A lot.)
Seriously, I'm out of my league here. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. (Yes, parenting. I know you've figured out who I'm writing about by now.) I didn't think I could love this child anymore, and each day he seems to surprise me with his wit and compassion, and my heart grows three sizes more.
But honestly, I love him so much that I recognize I cannot make him love himself. Only His Creator can. So I ask the One who "fearfully formed" him to speak to his heart in ways that only the Maker is able. I plead. I beg. God, help him. And I know He will. I am confident of this. Because "He who began a good work in (insert YOUR NAME) will be faithful to carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil 1:6).
I know, because He did it for me.
Don't misunderstand. I'm not suggesting I'm complete by any means. Not even close. (And all God's people said... AMEN!) But I am saying that for a very long time, I couldn't hear my song either, until the Father leaned close and sang into my ear.
The love whisperer.
Most days I hear Him singing over me, and despite my imperfections and faults, I feel His love, and therefore I can love as well. But then there are those days, when despite my best efforts, all I hear is noise, if I'm not completely deaf. But the thing is, I've come to the place where I don't have to hear it to know it now. I can trust in His unfailing love and because the One who loves perfectly teaches me how to love others that way, I am learning how to love myself as well.
Last night, this WONDERFULLY MADE child of God said to me, "I know you love me, and I know God loves me, but I don't always love myself. Can you help me?" Help ME Lord, I prayed under my breath. Help me help him hear You. "I can try, buddy," I said. And as he fought sleep and fought himself, these words wafted through his room from his bedside speaker:
"Your songs have never stopped. You've been singing, always singing over me.
Your words are still enough; and You're singing, always singing over me." (Kari Jobe)
Yes He is, buddy. Yes He is.
Jesus follower. Wife. Mom. Daughter. Friend. Pastor. Learner.