Originally published Wednesday, 06 November 2013.
... sorry, I know that title is not "ladylike" but I'm stepping onto the soapbox today, and this ain't gonna be pretty...
As soon as I saw my son after school last week, I knew something was wrong. He avoided my eyes and stepped quietly into the car.
Our usual hugs and welcome was sidestepped and he blinked back silent tears...
"Are you okay? Is something wrong? Are you sick?" I asked. He only responded by closing his eyes tight and shaking his head no.
"Did someone say something mean to you?", I asked... knowing at that very moment that it had happened.
He slowly nodded yes, and the floodgates of tears opened and washed down his flushed cheeks. He wouldn't tell me what was said, but he was crying as hard as I have ever seen him cry.
...sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me...
Because I don't agree.
It turns out that a boy said my son's "crooked teeth make him ugly".
It echoed in my heart as he spoke the words. The look on his face told me that not only did it hurt when it was said, but that in hearing it, my son had accepted the words as truth.
Now I know kids will be mean and say hurtful things. I am no stranger to this sad fact of life. When he related these words to me, I immediately was back in junior high, as the one being made fun of for my looks in front of a whole class of children, while everyone laughed along with the one doing the taunting. The boy I had the crush on, my "best friend", everyone... laughing.
... not laughing with me, but laughing at me.
I remember how my hands shook, face burning with embarrassment, and how I wanted to crawl under my desk and hide.
As much as it hurt to be made fun of myself, seeing my son go through the same thing was far worse. I ached for him and wanted to cry with him.
"I hate how I look", my son weeped. "I wish I had never been born!"
And with that sentence, something inside me snapped.
I pulled over our minivan, and we had an honest conversation about deadly words. I explained to him that his worth is based on far more than a couple teeth that aren't standing in perfect lines. His life and potential, (this sweet, smart, wity, special, amazing boy!) has absolutely nothing to do with the outside shell, although it is beautiful as well.
Then I realized that I still replay my own torment over and over in my head as if somehow by replaying it, I will become "used to" the words and they won't sting as much as they did. But deep inside, if I'm really being honest, I have owned these words. I have sheltered them in my locket, wrapped around my neck, like a treasure.
Isn't that the stupidest thing you've ever heard? I'm just being honest.
This little treasure of mean words had become my "escape route". If a boy didn't like me, I didn't let it hurt me because one look at my treasure of mean words reminded me that I am not the "pretty one". If my husband and I got into an argument, I immediately resorted to thoughts like "well, he should have married her because she's better". And on... and on... and on.....
It's nauseating now that I think about it.
I took my son's hands and clasped them together, as if he held these mean words in his hands. "Isaac", I said, "Are the words this child said to you true? Do they define who you are? Is your life limited to words about crooked teeth or do you mean more?"
... and I was talking to me too.
"What do you do with these words in your hands, sweet boy?" I asked him, wiping the tears from his cheeks. "Do you want to hold on to them forever as the truth, as a treasure that you should always keep and protect? Or, do you want to reject them and call them lies? Do you want to forgive a child for speaking unkindly and know that you are worth far more than these words? Do you want to throw them away?"
He looked up at me with a gleam of hope and replied, "I want to throw them away, Mommy".
We pretended to ball up the words and hold them in his hand. As he started to throw then, I glanced over at the cow pasture next to the road.
"Right there!" I told him as I pointed. "I want you to aim right there and throw those words right in that cow poop, because that's where they belong!"
He laughed as he aimed for a cow pie.
Satan has discouraged my heart for far too long with words, so I threw my memories there too, and mentally covered the top with cow poop too. That's where the lies can stay. This is where the discouragement stops. I won't be tormented by unkind words said (and probably forgotten) by some junior high kid going through his own issues... and I will not let my child hate himself because of words and lies.
I will not.
Satan, take notice, because this mad mama will fight for her son's spirit until my dying breath.
So take that to the bank.
"For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." ~ Eph 6:12
What lies are you believing? How long will it last? When do we take back the power from Satan to discourage our hearts, and tell him in a loud and clear voice that we can do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength? That our worth is found in Him? That Satan cannot distract us from the potential and power we have in Christ -- not today, not tomorrow, not next week.
We are not playing his game, and if cow poop has to be involved, then so be it.
Do you have lies you still believe that need to be buried under cow poop? Have you talked with your child about bullying and that words may hurt?