Although we still have a few more weeks before third grade begins, the time is drawing near enough that back to school preparations have begun. School supplies, uniforms and new tennis shoes have been purchased and we've started getting more serious about the various Summer bridge schoolwork that needs to be completed.
This afternoon my trio tackled "Me Collages," a la Judy Moody. The assignment was simple enough--using a half sized poster board, create a collage that depicts "you." While the children shouted out ideas, my role was to print photos from the computer for them to cut and paste. I had multiple requests for dogs, friends, sports, etc. As I was wrapping up my printing, I realized one of my sons had not included a family photo.
"Is there a family picture you'd like?" I asked innocently.
"No, I'm not going to do that. This isn't about family. It is about me. I like friends, sports and animals," he shrugged.
I probably should have let it go. Mentally, I know that part of growing up (especially for boys) is starting to pull away. But my feelings were a bit hurt, so I responded with a hint of sarcasm instead.
"Our family is a big part of who you are. Are you too cool for your family now?" I teased.
"Yes," he replied without hesitation.
My son is nine. Our conversation was not adversarial in nature. I really don't think he intended to hurt me with his snub. He is not running away or applying for legal emancipation. This is, after all, simply a 3rd grade poster project.
My son didn't seem to think twice as he moved quickly on to another request of me. As he asked me to track down an old soccer photo from last year I couldn't help but feel the sting. My thought life was nursing a little wound: Oh, I see, he rejects me as a part of his identity, but I am still useful to him.
Yikes! Human pride can be such a ferocious beast.
As I drove to Bible Study tonight I was still mulling what had happened. Frankly, my prevailing emotion an hour later was amusement. I said a quick prayer for better responses to future snubs...for thicker skin with tweeny sass, for wisdom as I navigate prepubescent emotions and more tenderness towards this child even when he is pulling away. Lord, teach me what to let go. It's not personal.
The subject in small group tonight was the indwelling of God and our union with Him. The encounter with my son was nothing more than a little story to share later with my husband--until the conclusion of our study. As Del Tackett (The Truth Project) began to speak of the human hunger for significance and its temptations, the "Me Collage" came flooding back.
Reflecting on the afternoon's events I could see much more clearly how his collage was the 'image' he was fashioning going into 3rd grade. He had been so specific about which photos we used, which friends were included, how he wanted to be portrayed. In my mind I saw my beloved son enslaved in front of a mirror, nervously examining every angle to make sure he 'looked good.'
Much is made of Instagram, Facebook and the plethora of other social media channels kids these days (ahem, and we adults) use to present an 'image' to the world--but this afternoon I was reminded that the real issue is simply the condition of the human heart. It is in us to hunger for acceptance and significance. Even without all the latest technological advances, our nature will reveal itself through good old fashioned poster projects and glue.
As a believer with a few decades on my boy, I know there is only one true source that can leave his hunger satisfied...and that there will be many false lovers who leave him unfulfilled along his journey.
I am convicted that I have moments daily that are the equivalent of me snubbing my Heavenly Father on my own Me Collage--even while I call upon Him for His usefulness in my life. (I cringed and sighed deeply as that confession was made.)
Tonight I call upon the Lover of my Soul (and my son's) for forgiveness. I pray sooner rather than later we will grasp our belovedness and that all those other representations of ourselves pale in comparison to our identity in Him.
Motherhood (and sanctification)...not for the faint of heart!