As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Life Lessons from my Six-Year-Old

"Mommy," a voice calls up the stairs long after bedtime, "I'm a little bit sad."  It's Stephen, my six-year-old.  He shares a room with two older brothers, both of whom have long since gone to sleep, leaving him to ponder the mysteries of life.  And in that pondering he has come to a conclusion. "I felt like I don't care that much about Barnaby, and that makes me sad." Barnaby is a much beloved teddy bear.  I don't remember where he got him, but he loves that thing.  And yet, I suppose as every child does one time or another, he's probably feeling like maybe he's outgrowing him just a bit.

Let me back up and tell you a bit about Stephen.  He is probably the most introverted of all of my children, and that's just fine by him.  He is a thinker, content to do his own thing.  And when he wants to tell you something (which is very often) he needs to be heard.  But - he also speaks slowly and with the most possible detail, reflective of his thoughtful and artistic personality, but often incompatible with the fast-pace of life in a family of eight.  It's not uncommon for Stephen to get lost in the shuffle.  If I'm having a good day I can indulge him a time or two, but nowhere near as often as he would like.  He's a good sport about it, but nonetheless I was grateful for a bit of quiet time in the evening when I could be really present to him.

I listened as he slowly explained himself.  "I just....well....I feel like I don't care about Barnaby very much.  And that makes me....sad." He looked at me, thinking, and I let a few quiet moments go by before I asked him, "why do you suppose that makes you sad?"  "I don't know," he said, "it just does."  I thought a little more.  My first thought, as is often the case, is to take the logical route.  That obviously he does care about Barnaby if the thought of not caring is making him sad, and therefore saying he doesn't care isn't true.  That didn't seem to cut it with him, and as we sat in silence a little longer I realized that this was not a provocation I could answer for him, but I could point him to the One who could.

The fact is, sometimes we are sad for no reason.  Even when it doesn't seem to make any sense, even when we know we shouldn't be (or when our Moms tell us we don't need to be) we are.  But Jesus, He knows us.  He knows when we're sad, and He doesn't try to talk us out of it.  He opens His arms and pours out His love over us.  He takes our sadness and offers His joy.  And sometimes, even grownups forget this.  Thank goodness for the wisdom of six-year-olds, who can see right through Mom logic and get to the heart of the matter.

I told my boy it was okay to be sad, and that whenever he is that he can use it as an opportunity to turn to Jesus.  I led him in a prayer of gratitude that God is always close to him, that God loves him so much and desires his perfect happiness, and asked Jesus to take his sadness away from him.  And as I have so often before in the footsteps of my beautiful mother, I encouraged him to pray the Our Father over and over whenever he is sad, for comfort and peace.

Finding Jesus in the present moment is the single biggest struggle I face these days.  Making the leap of faith from what I know in my head to what I live in real life is just so difficult for me.  And yet when I see it being lived by my children, it is crystal clear.  These burdens that we carry, these feelings of fear, of sadness, of frustration, of discouragement, despair - they are our heart's way of crying out for more.  The more that does not come from us, that can only be satisfied through the One who created us with this need on our hearts.  So often I live in the side-effects of that, like my boy.  That wrestling of my heart that knows something is wrong, but I don't know why.  This is the beauty of parenthood.  The Lord uses those closest to us to show us what our truest needs are.  And in walking my boy through these difficult times, I find myself uttering the very words I need to hear most - Jesus is always near, we just need to call on Him.  He is ready and waiting to take our sadness and fill us with His peace.  We just need to ask.

1 comment :

  1. Stephen is SOLID!!! Thanks for sharing, it is amazing how much we can learn from kids about the Lord and life.