Today I was reading something that brought back so many memories for me. And not really good ones. I have started to think about this more as July gets closer and I am thinking about how me and my husband are going to raise our baby.
In my first post, I mentioned a struggle that I have dealt with throughout my adult life and how God is using it to help me understand His grace and how to extend grace to others. But the truth is, this struggle did not suddenly pop up one day when I was a teenager and I have been struggling how to deal with it since then. The truth is, this is a struggle that I have had since I was a child.
It would take too long to go into it all, so please just believe me when I say that even as a child, I knew that what I allowed myself to hear and think about was wrong. And for most of my childhood, I believed myself to be a dirty, sinful human who God would never use. I believed that I had to earn His favor, or He would never even look my way.
Looking back, I can see where, even then, God was teaching me about His grace. And sometimes, I believed it. But there is one thing that sticks out to me, even to this day, that put a halt to that belief and served only to plunge me into further self-loathing, anger, and hopelessness. I was in my Wednesday night class. I think I was about 14 or 15. I feel like, at that point, I had been growing as a Christian. I had been becoming more involved at church, and doing what I believed I needed to in order to serve God. And what I felt like was helping was I felt like I could look up to my teachers in Sunday School and my Wednesday night group. I believed that they were truly helping me and guiding me.
But on this particular night, we were talking about grace and I made the comment that I was thankful that God loved me and was working in me, despite all the wrong in my life. And here is where it all shattered. My teacher, a women who I trusted and looked up too, looked at me and said, “You can’t have done anything that bad.” Now, I am not sure how she meant that, but here is what it said to a 14yo girl, trying to deal with something she had struggled with since childhood. “You can’t truly be thankful for God’s grace because you haven’t done anything that bad.”
Ok, in comparison, no, what I was struggling with wasn’t “that bad”. But from what I knew from reading the Bible, ALL sin grieved and offended God, whether it be big or little.
That comment, no matter how it was meant, made me feel horrible. And I believed it. I believed that I was too small, too young, for God to bother with. I wasn’t mature enough to understand.
I also got angry at this teacher. How could she say something like that? She had no idea what I was dealing with or how I felt about it.
That may not seem like a big thing, but my point is this. All people need God’s grace. There is no point in our lives where we don’t need it. Also, there is no point in our Christian lives that we are incapable of coming to an awareness of the grace of God and being truly thankful for it.
Please, please, please never treat a child or a teenager like they cannot be thankful for God’s grace or that they are too young to come to an awareness of it. The things they are struggling with may be small in comparison to what you are struggling with or what they will encounter as adults. But at that point in their life, that may be the biggest thing they have struggled with so far. Just because it is small to you, doesn’t mean it is small to them. They may be feeling like I did. Small, dirty, and worthless. Thinking that God could not possible take time out of His busy, adult-centered schedule to worry about them, a small, lowly child. Why not take that time to help them understand God’s grace, rather then treating them like they are too little to really know what they are talking about. No one will ever fully understand God’s grace. It is unfathomable and completely overwhelming. Why not guide them in learning more about God and showing grace to others, instead of treating them like they don’t know what they are talking about. Children and teens need guidance, not a pat on the head and “oh you are so cute.” God doesn’t treat us like that. Why should we treat the children He has entrusted to us that way? Children are going to learn on their own that life is hard and the struggles only going to get worse. Instead of treating them like they don’t know what they are talking about, take the time to guide them through the little struggles, so they can be better equipped to meet the big struggles.
Anyway, that is my rambling post for now.