Today, Espressos of Faith offers a fifth excerpt from Not Just on Sundays, due out this month. The book often features the smaller moments of life and what they can teach us if we zoom in to see what might really be going on—how God can be showing us something huge in the ordinary of the day.
Not giving a creative person the time, space, and materials to do his “art” is like slowly starving him from the inside out. I am trying to find that balance, and I am learning from my youngest guy. His hands are not the strongest, and his fine motor skills need to develop and be refined, but he sees himself as an artist as he shapes Amazon.com boxes with endless materials to create amazing treasures. I have to remember that although all of the assorted scraps I call “trash” (like Dum Dum wrappers) get under my skin after a while—when he stocks them up like a squirrel—he sees future masterpieces. What I like to think I see in words, he sees in everyday stuff around him.
Okay, Little Man, if you need a card table in the family room with endless junk on it and a used mailing box—and that keeps you from begging for more screen time—then have at it, Child! Can’t wait to see what you make. Maybe we should sell a few of those items at our lemonade stand this summer to afford storage for your recycling, er, I mean art studio.
That was a lovely story, wasn’t it?
I wish I could say my perspective looks that delightful and calm all of the time.
I occasionally rage. But it is an area I am turning over to God so He can help me find a way to bless instead of speak labels onto my children.
I’m not a big fan of any label. The label “ADHD” may help a child get the help he needs on an IEP, and within the context of a school system, that may be entirely appropriate and helpful, but I do not want to look at any of my children as limited by their weaknesses.
I don’t want to say: “You forever will have attention issues.”
I want to say: “It will be awesome to see how God uses all that phenomenal energy for creative works to bring Him honor someday and help people!”
But this takes daily praying through what may perplex me or drive me nuts and asking God for words that cancel out the:
“You never wills,”
“You have to stop XYZ-ings”
that our kids hear every day.
Some of it is necessary. A lot of it is not. Here’s what it looks like when I ask my Father in heaven to give me words. (I won’t taint your minds with what it looks and sounds like when I don’t. You’re welcome.)
I was challenged this past weekend to speak to my kids more about their God-given gifts and abilities, how the Lord is shaping their hearts, and whom I see them growing to be. It builds on some of what I have already been doing, but I love saying:
“______, you have been given a tremendous heart for others, tender toward people and all of God’s creatures. You are sensitive to the hurts in others and respond with great compassion.”
Or “______, you have been given a warrior spirit to stand up for injustice and speak His Truth when He calls you to it.”
Or “________, you have a kind, gentle heart that speaks quiet strength, safety, and protection. You lead softly, with delightful humor and deep thought. You know His Word inside and out, and now may it go from your head to soak deeply into your heart.”
And, really, what’s actually behind the things that get under our skin is simply that: our own skin. We are just as annoying and frustrating at times. But we’re adults and have more authority to misuse or mishandle.
Or to bless.
James 3:9-12, James, brother of Jesus, speaking
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.