I had a day recently where my youngest came home from school very upset and adamant he never wanted to go back; never wanting to see a particular person again. A previous painful memory of being reprimanded at school bought back strong emotions, and when he was accused once more of doing something wrong (this time unfairly) his response was quite natural: flee as quickly as possible. The shame and worry that others thought bad of him seemed too much to bear. Even worse: the thought of seeing the person again. For him, facing a situation he feared, seemed impossible to do. Until I shared with him, I too have had to face giants – I still do as an adult.
I wrote recently about being a good role model to your kids; speaking about the times when we fail to model helpful behaviours, or hope our weaknesses aren’t observed or recognised. We don’t want to appear fragile or weak. We don’t won’t our kids to copy our mistakes, or fail. We want them to think we’ve got it all together. But nothing good ever comes from being a fake or trying to live with a mask on. Being a genuine human is a gift we can give our kids. The truth is we all make mistakes at time. We all have things in our lives that seem hard for us. This incident reminded me, that modelling humility and courage to our kids is so helpful, especially when they experience challenges of their own.
When I told him there are scenarios that I find scary and people I am intimidated by, he genuinely looked surprised. (Maybe it had never occurred to him that his Mum ever worried.) In being honest about the times when I’ve got things horribly wrong and when I’ve been afraid of others opinions and had thought a deep hole to crawl into would be preferable, I was able to communicate a wonderful truth: there is always an opportunity for a fresh start and hope for tomorrow when we live in dependance and trust on God’s loving kindness. In being willing to be vulnerable, allowed for a very open conversation about facing our fears and weaknesses, and facing them together with God our heavenly father; God who made us, who knows us intimately and who loves us amazingly.
Acknowledging our vulnerabilities takes courage, but in the admission of vulnerability there are some beautiful things that can occur. When we are honest with ourselves, (identifying the things we find hard to do), there is an opportunity to grow and change; to accept and love. When we bring our fears and mistakes to God in prayer and ask him for help, trusting in his goodness and mercy, we can experience peace and forgiveness; leaving our cares with him, trusting that God is more than able to help. We also grow in wisdom and courage as we trust God. Through doing this we become more resilient.
However, if we were to flee every time a problem presented itself; relying on our own wisdom and strength (which we know is shaky) then our ‘trusting God’ muscles would never be exercised and the giants in our lives become bigger and stronger. We can become easily discouraged by perceived failures; avoiding difficult relationships, threatened by others strengths and despairing of our own vulnerabilities. Leaving us ill-equipped to face life and all its challenges.
My little tale has a proud Mum moment. After closing a difficult day praying with my boy, I am happy to report he woke the next morning and went to school. There was a peace to him that I don’t often see. While he may have steered clear of certain people, he quietly faced the classroom and playground without any talk of fleeing. He faced his fear and showed resilience; he exercised his ‘trusting God muscles’. For myself – I pray that God would use this experience and others to remind him that God is always a ready help in times of trouble. I pray this also for myself.