I heard a whimper coming from one of the girls’ bedrooms. I knew the three year old had been asleep for awhile, so I walked into the five year old’s room to see what the problem was.
She lay on her back, rubbing her blue eyes, a downcast look on her face.
“Why are you crying?” I asked my first-born.
“I broke Allie’s favorite chap stick…” she choked out.
My mind flashed back to the blue tube of Hello Kitty lip gloss I found in the dryer that evening. Melted.
I put two and two together and realized Lexi had left it in her pocket when she put her pants in the laundry basket. She must’ve realized her mistake as she lay in bed trying to fall asleep.
At first, I thought she was upset the chap stick was ruined. I approached the situation from that angle, explaining to her that chap stick was a dime a dozen, and we could, in fact, buy more. There are probably 10 tubes floating around our house at any given time.
But Lexi’s tears kept sneaking out of her eyes.
So I asked her again, “Why are you crying?”
Only this time I listened to her answer.
“I broke Allie’s chap stick…” she said.
Although her answer was exactly the same, this time I realized it wasn’t about the chap stick; it was about Allie.
“Allie is going to be sad…” Lexi elaborated. “That was her favorite chapstick. What <sniff> if <sniff> she <sniff> says <sniff> she <sniff> willnevertalktomeagaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain?” she sobbed.
There it was. Lexi felt guilty. Lexi was worried her sister would reject her. Lexi was sick she may have caused Allie sadness. Lexi anticipated a break in their relationship on account of something she had done, and it broke her heart.
On the one hand, I was so proud of Lexi in that moment. She’s always been a pretty sensitive, thoughtful kid, but this level of empathy was something I’d never known was inside her. I’m thankful she was way more concerned with her sister’s feelings than the material object that was forever ruined.
On the other hand, though, my heart broke for Lexi. I wanted to protect her from any lies she may believe about herself as a result of this situation. I wanted to make sure she didn’t come out of this thinking she was a horrible person or undeserving of her sister’s love or exempt from God’s grace when she makes mistakes. In short, I wanted her to know how infinitely valuable she is to me, to Allie, and to God, even in the midst of mistakes.
It took a half hour to convince her everything was going to be ok. I went downstairs and replayed the conversation for my husband, commenting how difficult it was to get through to her. He said I did a good job, but then he observed, “And this was an ‘easy’ one….” implying Lexi’s problems are only going to get more complex as she grows up. “Yeah, ” I agreed, “but they’ll all probably revolve around the same theme.”
I imagine all of our problems can be reduced to losing sight of who we are through God’s eyes. Our mistakes, our circumstances, our purposefully wrong choices can all lead us to believe things about ourselves that aren’t true. Like maybe we aren’t good enough for God to come through or to forgive us or to extend us grace. Or maybe God doesn’t love us. Or maybe we will “always” sin in certain ways – that’s just the way we are. Or maybe we don’t even think we were created by a God, so, not surprisingly, we don’t believe a God can help us.
Lies. Lies about who we are. Lies about Whose we are. Believing lies can cause of a lot of our problems. And sometimes having problems can cause us to believe a lot of lies. And, when we’re exceptionally confused, both can happen simultaneously. I’ve heard. From a friend.
The good news is God can and will help us determine which of our beliefs are true and which are false. And once we label our thoughts as true or false, we’ll know which thoughts are worth pursuing and which should be discarded. And God will help us do that too.
Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:4-5)
Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. (Psalm 51:6)