By Angcat (from the archives 4/1/09)
Is God a man that He should lie?
Is He a hero in the sky?
Does He love me for my clothes,
My style of hair or size of nose?
Or am I cool because I'm made,
In His own image, that won't fade?
These thoughts came to me a few weeks ago after my 5 year old and I had a conversation that went something like this...
"Hey buddy, it's time to pick your school clothes for tomorrow. How about these ones?"
('These ones' being a cool, blue, sporty set that kind of looked like a soccer warm up outfit).
"No I don't want those ones, my friends don't like them", he said.
"Why not", I asked, puzzled, "What's not to like, these are cool clothes?"
"They don't have pictures or designs on the pants, so they're not cool" was his response, and he refused to wear them.
Five years old and already the pressure to wear the "right" clothes.
So I said gently to him "Honey, it's not what you wear that makes you cool. You are cool because you belong to God. You are the King's kid. It's not what's on your body that makes you important, but Who lives in your heart. And if your friends comment about your clothes, you can let them know that you like them and that's what matters".
I hate peer pressure. And I was aghast that it was starting to hone in on these children at such a tender age. The giver of the comment is just as vulnerable as the receiver, as he has also bought into the idea that a person's clothes are worthy of his scrutiny. And who sets the standard anyway. Where did this child learn that logos or designs on the pants make them more worthy of approval, and conversely how do kids get the idea that they can go to a friend and place a judgement on what they are wearing. Yes I'm concerned. It may all be innocent preferences, but this is where it all starts, right. When my son was first given these clothes, he loved them and wore them as a first choice, now he doesn't want to wear the pants to school.
So now, I want to start a movement.
It'll be called "In God's Image", or "Cool Hearts", or "Let's All Wear Hand Me Downs", or maybe "Not What You Wear, But Who You Know".
You get my drift. How do we spare these little ones the pain and pressure of trying to measure up in a world that says you only matter if you've got the right label on your back, or feet, or wherever.
It's our job as parents to guide, comfort and mold little hearts to hear that strong, quiet voice, that whispers a cry of love and acceptance just because. "Because you're mine", I hear Him say (rather like in a Max Lucado story). " I bought you with a great price. I gave my whole life for you little one", as He enfolds a small hand in His strong carpenter one. "I love you always dear one" he murmurs into the little face gazing up at Him, eyes as bright as stars and full of wonder.
And just like the dots and stars in Lucado's story of Punchinello, other people's opinions will fall off, if we teach them to press in to the heart of their Maker.
I think I'll do a children's book about Covering. Covering is Who we're covered by, not what we're covered with. That's a right perspective. I'm still working on it in my own life too. It must be a life long journey.
Dear Father God,
Thank you that You look on the heart, not on the outside where man looks. Sometimes that's scary because what's in there isn't so nice and I'd rather that You just see the external me that I've prepared for humanity. Yet there's a deep rest and assurance in the fact that You see and love me, spotty heart and all and haven't finished working on it yet.
Please help our children as they navigate this world of external expectations. May they turn their hearts to the eternal and find the Truth and the Life and the Way that You are.