My son and I are a lot alike.
He likes to observe, analyze, and figure things out.
No one taught him how to do this, and he spends all of his time thinking. I spend most of my time trying to slow him down from jumping to wrong conclusions. He is quick to judge and even quicker to trust his own judgments above reality. It can be very tricky to train him.
He also loves to talk.
He will begin a conversation by engaging someone’s attention, only to walk away from them – still talking! He doesn’t realize it but he loves using his words even if no one can hear them. He knows how to express himself with words, and he has enough confidence to do so all day long.
He faces little rejection, but I fear the day when his expression of himself and his words will be shut up, stomped on, and quieted.
Like I was.
I didn’t know when I was little that I had a gift. That being able to express myself with words would one day be valuable. I liked to observe, analyze, and figure things out. The problem for me was that I was the little sister. The baby. And no one had time to train my talent. Instead it was seen as an inconvenience, annoying, and wrong.
When I was 7 or 8 years old, I remember feeling crushed by the constant taunts to “shut up and be quiet.” All the you’re wrongs, you’re stupids, and you’re too littles took their toll. I was broken down piece by piece.
Pride quickly became my companion, promising to build me back up.
As time went on, pride created a wall that I could feel protected behind and encouraged me to fight back whenever I was told be be quiet. Even when I was wrong, pride whispered that always being right was worth fighting for. So I fought through tears and shame for the value of my words.
Words have always meant that much to me.
Oh how many times I was wrong to use words the way I did, yet I kept up the fight. Pride pushed me to keep going way farther than I was able to go. My strength failed, and my life seemed constantly out of control. And oh how many mistakes I made because I wasn’t willing to humbly listen.
Pride had closed my ears to all others when it freed my mouth to speak.
Sin always carries hidden costs.
I had to start coping with my mistakes, joking that I guess I’m just one of those who has to learn through mistakes. Deep down, I felt that this joke was a lie. Right along with the lie that I’ll never change. Both of these made me cringe. Never change? Always make mistakes? Would I ever be able to grow?
To me, learning has always equaled changing. Developing. And my mistakes were hurting me, keeping me from the change and development I craved.
And another cost of my pride was bearing loneliness. Very few people could see through my prideful exterior. Being alone had always been my biggest fear, and as a young adult that biggest fear was reality.
When the Spirit broke through that wall of pride, I was comforted and silenced. It took years upon years, trial upon trial, to redeem a proper view of myself and my expressions. If I’m not careful, I still carry a fear of using words too soon. Fear of protecting myself with pride.
So when it comes to training my son, I see myself in him. I know what harm can be done, from the inside and the outside. I’m learning what could have been, and what he can be. I’m praying to discern his hurts from his pride, but I can’t save him from encountering them. I can only guide him through these realities, and as I do something beautiful happens.
As he grows, my scars fade. As he develops, my heart expands. As he questions, theorizes, and shares himself with me, I have compassion for him and for myself. Through him, I’m given the gift of a second chance. A chance to heal from misguided guilt and shame, and make a difference in his life.
Training him to express himself wisely with his words is my kid-ucation.