Within a matter of seconds, it escalated from a leisure activity to tears and fears.
Let me rewind.
It all started off so peaceful. An older sister who loves to draw--teaching her younger (much less experienced) brother some improvement techniques. To be fair, he did ask for advice, and she was giving gentle helpful suggestions.
I believe the real trouble started when my daughter innocently asked her sibling, “What is that?”
His insulted heart responded with, “Isn’t it obvious? It’s a drawing of a girl! See the hair and the dress!”
My daughter never intended to wound her brother’s artistic ego with a simple honest question. But nevertheless, my son broke down in tears and could not believe that his best efforts were not as comprehensible on paper as they were in his head.
“I quit!” Tears. “I can’t believe she doesn’t understand my drawing. What else could it be?” Accelerated tears. “I’m no good at art and I just get so frustrated when people make fun of me. It hurts my feelings.”
(The supposed ridicule didn’t take place--his sister never insulted him--but the generated feelings of rejection and failure were real.)
I held my little six-year-old son with a tight mama-bear hug, waited until his uncontrolled waterworks ceased, and prayed that the Holy Spirit would give me words to share with this crushed elementary-aged spirit.
As I wiped away the salty moisture on his cheeks, I told my son . . .
“People do not define who you are or what you will become. Only God can do this. Many people in this world will misunderstand you or give you their negative opinions at times. I know it hurts. But . . . You need to know your truth, be confident in who you are and what you do--and never give up based on what others say.”
He responded with, “But that’s the problem. I’m not confident. My feelings get very upset when other people make fun of me. It really hurts!”
And again I told him to repeat after me, “People’s opinions do not define who you are. God is the only One who can define you. You are a son of the King--and you are my son. You are loved. You are valuable. You are talented. Keep drawing and practice confidence.”
Minutes later my husband walked in the door from work. I told my son to test out his confidence and ask his father what he thought about the drawing.
“Dad, what do you think this is a picture of?”
(I discreetly whispered to the side that it was a drawing of a girl, but to purposely guess wrong to see if he learned a lesson.)
Hesitantly, “Hmmm, is it a puppy?”
Roaring laughter. “No dad, it’s a girl! You’re so silly! See the hair and the dress.”
“Oh, now I see it. Nice drawing!”
More laughter--and practiced confidence.
”For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.” (Psalm 71:5 NIV)
Little kids . . . big adults . . . we all need to be reminded that no one but God can label us. Our identity rests in the opinion of our Creator, not people. Know your worth and practice confidence today.