Sici’s locker notes to self

When I held my first born girl in the dark of my belly, I knew before I knew almost any other thing: This child is wise.

I cannot explain exactly how this awareness rested full in my body, but it did, and I felt daily her wisdom gift inside me, with its solid and pulsing presence all its own.

More than ten years since, my girl lives it over and over again.

Recently I taught Sici’s Sunday School class, as I do once a month. The kids and I shared conversations about God and his faithfulness that morning. They talked about their dreams for the future. We even laughed good and hearty.

One of the boys continued pushing my buttons through class — seemingly trying to shock the kids and me with inappropriate and strange stories. He got up regularly from his seat, distracted other students. I tried to roll with it, encouraged glimmers of good in his sharing and made clear boundaries regarding the inappropriate stuff.

During closing prayer, with heads bowed and eyes closed, the boy drew the metal basket of ballpoint pens from the center of the table to himself, folding them over and over one another, until the room filled with clanging against metal.

I’d had it.

Without fully forming my thought, I told him, mouth pointed and head thrust forward, “Don’t ever do that during prayer again. It’s incredibly disrespectful,” and then realizing I had unfinished business, closed my eyes and said, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Oh my.

I looked up and saw wide-eyed and wide-mouthed kid faces staring back at me, all but confirming that I was indeed the crazy lady, and they’d all seen it right out there in the open.

As kids filed out at the end of class, I walked to the boy and put my hand on his shoulder. “I’m so glad you were here,” I told him. “Looking forward to seeing you next time.” (I meant it. I love this kid.)

But I felt sick as I gathered my papers and cleaned the classroom. Shame hung heavy.

So I asked my ten-year-old girl, Sici, if her regular teacher had ever spoken so pointedly to the kids. I was sure I’d blown it, but wanted to know just how badly.

“You are two totally different people, so I don’t think I should answer that question,” she began.

“Because if I tell you she’s never done that, you’re going to feel bad about yourself. But if I tell you she has, you’re going to feel better, but not for the right reasons.”

Whoa.

In that moment, my girl cut to my heart. And the heart of the matter.

In her wisdom, she understands the comparison trap both sharp and sticky.

She knows nice words aren’t intended to be the balm for deeper needs — the kind that cannot be fully satisfied by another.

She knows that if our measuring stick is those around us, we’ll find it continually shifting, whether by our own jostling or by false perceptions of the other or by our skewed vision as we believe again the lie that we are not enough.

Have you been blessed by the words of a wise child? Do you struggle with the sharp-toothed comparison trap? When you feel you’ve blown it, what do you remind yourself?

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