The night was winding down and it was time to brush teeth and get ready for bed. It was just me and Ben, my oldest son in the bathroom. After we were all done going through the routine, I felt the need to have him do something different….something outside of our usual order of things……I said, “come here Ben, let’s look into the mirror together….what do you see?” We stood there for a few seconds, my hands on his shoulders…my adult frame acting as a large backdrop against his small 8-year-old body. It was a great dad/son moment for me….pretty cool. He sat there pondering as his eyes wandered, investigating all of his features. “I see my birth mark.” That is the first thing Ben stated. We went down the list of his other physical features like ears, blue eyes, hair, etc. He then said “I think I look weird.” I appreciated his child-like simplicity and honesty. At first, his statement made me kinda sad, but it created an awesome opportunity to talk about some good things.
I think we’ve all gone through stages in life where we think we look “weird” or we’re not satisfied with who we are as people. I know I have. Growing up, looking in the mirror was a constant struggle for me. For some reason, I was ashamed of myself…..I’m not sure why, but I was. Because of this, my time with Ben in front of the mirror was special.
We were able to discuss how important it is to be different. That we are all special and handcrafted by a God who loves us. That we’re all weird, but in a good way! That, out of the billions of people alive today, not one person is exactly like the other. That Ben is special and every mark and crease and gap and color and detail makes up his very own identity. Fantastic!
Next, the conversation led to purpose and exploring God’s plan for Ben. I asked him what he thought he was created for. He said, “well I know one thing that I was created for. I think I am a peace-maker.” That was awesome to hear. I wish I was that insightful when I was a kid! He then asked, “do you think God has a plan for me? Do you think He has a plan for you, dad?” I obviously gave an enthusiastic “absolutely!” and explained that we are all created for a purpose. That, as we go through life, our purpose will hopefully become clearer. I also explained that even though I’m an adult, I’m still trying to figure out my purpose, but I know it’s out there, ready for me to find! He nodded his head in agreement, shifted his eyes to the side as he pondered the conversation, we gave hugs and “I love you’s” and then we were done. Simple stuff, yet such a sweet space in time.
I’m learning that our children often become what we speak into them. As parents, we are shepherds, doing our best to guide our little ones down the right road. Although we can’t force our children to become anything or anyone, we can sure clear a path for them, love them, speak confidence into their lives and pray for them….trusting that God has them in His hands.
I invite you to join me in being intentional with our kids our nephews and nieces, our cousins, our friend’s kids….basically any kids that we have contact and relationship with. They need us….oh yes, little imperfect “us.”
We are responsible for molding the next generation…..what a privilege and honor!