by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
I sat nearly mesmerized by the passionate words of an eighth grader. I was a guest at his parents’ dinner table recently. From one thing to another, he let down his guard to the five adults with whom he was sharing this evening meal. I could see the surprise on his parents’ faces as one of them addressed the boy, with an attempt at humor, what have you done with our son?
It continued long after the mealtime, partly because we were welcoming, even encouraging him to perform on the musical instrument for which he was currently receiving lessons, to recite Bible passages required by his Christian club, to show us samples of his exploration into the world of poetry writing. He seemed genuinely glad for this chance to communicate with us and appreciative of our words of affirmation.
I wonder, however, why his parents expressed surprise at his uncharacteristic behavior? Why so little prompting could open what seemed like a floodgate of intense sharing? I have to admit this young man, right on the brink of his teen years and all that they hold in store for him, is very special to me. I only see him once every year or so. But I know a little of his under-resourced, early childhood in another country, his adoption into a loving home with many privileges and opportunities, and his continuing, difficult journey of adjusting to the changes, however beneficial.
All this leads me to wonder again what it is that we loving parents do to build barriers between ourselves and our children that make the flow of meaningful communication difficult. These hurdles often take from children the freedom to express their inner ‘workings’ – their hopes and frustrations, their confidence and their fear of failure – with the ones who love them the most, and who invest the most into their lives.
Probably research is plentiful, and many books have been written on this all too common phenomenon. I doubt I have anything new to add. Rather, I’ll suggest that sharing this account of a delightful evening with you may bring God’s gentle whisper in your ear that it’s always helpful to listen with your heart to your children – any children with whom you have influence – and trust our Good Shepherd to send a word or gesture, even a smile and kind observation, to pierce even the smallest corner of darkness so that the ray of God’s love can reach a soul.
Why not take a prayerful moment, a deliberate ‘time out’ to ask our Father to reveal clearly each heavenly assignment he has for you along these lines. Perhaps at some far distant time you’ll learn what a difference this made. More likely you’ll never know how your sparks of attention made all the difference in the world…how they set aflame blazes that welcomed many others into the Kingdom. For I believe that no kind act, however small is ever wasted. Grow strong, young man. I love you.
The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life. Proverbs 11:30a (NLB)