The boy walks into the bedroom where I sit on a tangled mass of sheets typing out afternoon emails on the laptop. He leans against the bed, face down, sideburns damp and curling, then flops his torso on the mattress, a groan-sigh escaping his lips.
I glance over at the boy, our son, and seeing the pinched line between his brows, the tears clinging, trembling on lashes, I ask,
“What’s up buddy?”
He writhes onto his side, face averted, and anguishes out, “M____ catches all of the balls. All of them! I don’t get any!”
I look again at our son, his body taut with the sorrow of inadequacy, face averted by the force of inner shame. I snap the computer shut, scoot to the bed’s edge, and wrap my arms around sweaty shoulders. He stiffens but stays.
“Were you playing football with the neighbors?”
“Tell me about it.”
“It’s just that when Akut throws the football, M_____ always catches it. Every. Single. Time. And it makes me feel like M_____ is awesome, so awesome, and I can’t catch anything!”
I squeeze his shoulders.
“And I . . . I feel weak and I hate it! I hate it! I hate it!” his voice cracks with the weight of self-hatred.
I want to tell him—you aren’t weak! You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
I want to tell him—you are awesome!
I want to cover his weakness with a mask of clichés.
But I hear the echoes of my own self-hatred in his voice, my own battle against the frailty of my humanity. I hear the echo of striving . . . oh the striving! To be good enough, strong enough. To look good enough, strong enough.
And this boy—only seven and already weary of striving to be enough, to be “Awesome.”
So I pray, “Dear Lord! Help me!”
And I say, “I get it that you don’t like to feel weak. I’m that way too. It makes me mad sometimes. But the thing is, God made us weak because he loves us.”
“But why? That doesn’t make any sense!”
“If you were super-strong all the time, would you want Jesus?”
He shrugs his shoulders, but I feel his muscles ease, soften.
“The thing is, God loves us so much he wants to give us the best treasure in the whole wide world! Do you know what that treasure is? ”
He’s looking me in the eye now, this boy-man of mine, “Jesus?” he says.
“Yes! But most of the time we humans think strength is the real treasure. But that’s a lie. Jesus is the real treasure. Does that make sense?“
“I think so . . . .”
“And when Jesus is our treasure, we become strong because we aren’t worried about being awesome anymore. Instead, we want to make Jesus awesome.”
I look down at my son, and he’s thinking hard, head cocked to one side, eyes wide, pondering.
“I want Jesus to be awesome, but I still don’t like being weak,” he says.
“I know, buddy. Me too. That’s why we need Jesus. Can we pray together and ask Jesus to help us?”
He laces fingers together in his lap as brown eyes lift and mirror mine, “Ok, mom.”
“Cease striving and know that I am God . . . . The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold.”
Psalm 46: 10-11
Project Pursued Questions
Do you ever feel overwhelmed with a sense of your own weakness? How do you respond to your feeling of weakness/being overwhelmed with life? (Anger, depression, tears, over-working, sleeping, etc.?) What would it look like to embrace your weakness and turn to Jesus?
How do you help your kids respond to their weakness and turn to Jesus? Write your stories! Share your stories!