I was just watching an old video of Grace coloring a picture of really tiny scribbles in different colors. To her and to me, they were flowers. In the video, she’s asking me to draw a picture of a dog. Her word for “dog” sounds a little profane, but as her mommy, I knew exactly what she was saying. At the time, I didn’t think twice about it. Now it makes me smile at its innocence. I really would have had no idea what she was saying now, but then it made total sense. I spent the most time with her so I knew her language when no one else did.
As parents, we know our kids better than any of the other billions of people living on this earth. We know their hearts and minds backward and forward. But something happens as they get older. We start to lose that connection. I look at our oldest, Noah. He is going to be eleven this year. He has two settings lately. He is either making obnoxious sounds, thinking that he’s being hilarious, or he’s highly sensitive and insecure, snapping at us or having a meltdown over the battery dying on the iPad, or the Snickers ice cream bars being gone; everything is a really big deal right now.
I miss the days when I knew him backward and forward. I guess this is what all those old ladies meant at the grocery store when I was sweating, trying to get everything on my list while trying to keep his butt seated in the shopping cart and they would say with those annoying, all-knowing smiles, “Enjoy it! It goes fast.”
At the time, I was thinking, “B*tch please. Do you smell me right now? I haven’t showered in three days. Enjoy it, my a**.” Well, it turns out they were right. I should have enjoyed it more because that kid is gone. My sweet Noah whose laugh—best little kid laugh ever—would echo off the canned goods and make strangers the next aisle over start cracking up, is now constantly trying to imitate his favorite tv characters or he’s breaking things around the house trying to flip half-filled water bottles to make them land on end. My favorite phrase has become, “Go outside!”
And yet, we still have our moments…
“Mom, sometimes I feel like I’m always going to be alone,” he said to me the other night, one arm flung dramatically over his eyes.
“Why is that, buddy?”
“I just don’t think anyone gets me…the kids in my class think I’m weird.”
“Hmm…well, do you think they’re weird?” I asked him.
“Sometimes…Especially the girls,” he said pulling his arm from his head.
“I think sometimes at your age, we start to feel lonely because we think we are weird, ourselves, and we defend ourselves by trying to believe it’s the other people who are more weird than us. So everyone takes turns picking on each other so that they don’t have to be the weird one that day. Does that make sense?”
“Look, no one–NO ONE–is perfect. We all are ‘weird’ because nobody is exactly the same. Even twins have different personalities, right?”
“That’s what’s tough. We live in a world where people want to be a part of something but we all feel so misunderstood because we are all a little ‘weird’ or different.”
“You mean like how I still like Minecraft but the kids in my class don’t as much anymore?”
“Yep, that’s definitely part of it. God gave you a desire to be creative. You like to express it right now by creating Minecraft worlds. God gave some of the other kids a really strong interest in sports. It doesn’t really make anyone ‘weird,’ He just wants us to be different because we all have something special we are going to do in this world.
“I know you’re going to do something really awesome someday, Noah, because God gave you an extra dose of ‘different.’ I am so proud of you. He gave you a tough job because He knows you can handle it.”
He was quiet for a minute. “Okay,” he finally said.
“I love you, buddy.”
“I love you too, Mom.”
He doesn’t say it much anymore, so as I left his room, it filled my heart. I really believe what I said to Noah. We all are different, with our strengths and even our vulnerabilities because we all have something special that we are meant to share in this world through our experiences and lessons. There is a reason we were born at this time, in this life. God really does have a divine purpose for all of us. We may not understand it when we’re going through it. It does sometimes feel lonely. But we need to be open to it all.
How did people know, trust, and believe, that they are meant to do extraordinary things? Look at the light bulb. I just went to google “Tesla” to make my point, but found that the light bulb was actually more of a collaborative invention made by a bunch of 19th century “weirdos” trying to improve what the last one started. I am willing to bet, those guys all seemed super weird to their friends. But they were hellbent on creating this thing that would revolutionize the world.
And I love thinking about Jesus this way, too. For the record, I am not trying to compare any of us to Jesus, but I am trying to make a point. Here was this kid; rumors flying in the adult world about his illegitimacy so he’s already off to a rough start. People think he’s a little “touched” anyway. Any kids his age probably thought he was nuts! At one point he wanders off and goes missing for three days and Mary and Joseph are worried sick thinking he’s been kidnapped or killed and they find him in a temple preaching to the religious leaders and his response is, “Well, where else would you find me besides, my Father’s house?” Like, “Duh?” Meanwhile, Mary is probably having a heart attack. But really, how do you reprimand the Son of God? I don’t think you can ground him…Thank God, Mary had Gabriel clue her in before Jesus was born. But still, she’s probably like, “God, what am I supposed to do with this…?”
But Jesus knew from a really young age who he was. He wasn’t worried about being weird. He was on a mission. What if we could be so resolute about our life’s purpose? What if we could just know what it was we were meant to do? It would take so much of the anxiety out of life.
But that’s not part of our journey. We have to feel weird. We have to feel lonely and uncomfortable because we need God. We need Him to help us navigate life. He wants us to need Him–he gave us our quirks and knows our weaknesses. He’s our Father who knows us backward and forward. He doesn’t stop understanding us when we hit our pimply, knob-kneed pre-teen years or our awkward, fumbling adult years. He’s our constant. And the coolest thing is, He doesn’t stop loving us during any of it.
So to get to my point, I was thinking if we can all give each other that kind of grace; to know that we are all on the same kind of unknown journey, struggling, trying to figure it out, could we all be a little more loving and grace-filled toward each other? Could we all understand that none of us feels comfortable in their own skin? No one is walking around thinking that they have everything figured out. Sometimes we feel God giving us a sign that we’re on the right path, but most of us don’t have the gift of knowing what we’re doing here. Most of us are still like little Noah, feeling homesick and lonely for a true home that we are waiting to go back to, but we don’t understand it because we don’t really remember it. We just know that this human life is a tough one and we’re falling flat on our faces much of the time.
My hope today is to be attentive and receptive to God’s purpose in my life. I want to be open to His plan for me and to give grace to others who are trying to follow His plan for them. I will hold back judgment because I understand how hard it is to know what we are doing in this world. Everyone feels a little “weird” sometimes.