Meanwhile, I am continuing to be reminding of the story of David. Before he was David the King; David, friend of Jonathan; David who defeated Goliath...before any of this happened, he was David, son of Jesse,
A quick review: God had recently rejected Saul as King of Israel and had sent Samuel to anoint a new King--one of the sons of Jesse. Upon reaching the home of Jesse, Samuel is greeted by seven of his sons. God reveals to Samuel that none of these young men are the chosen king, which leads Samuel to ask, "Are these all the sons you have?"
And this is where my heart sits so heavy today:
Jesse replies, "There is the youngest, but he is tending sheep."
This was to be a very important day for Jesse and his family--one of them was about to become the king of Israel...yet David was not even considered for the ceremony. It is almost as though he was an afterthought--less worthy than his older, stronger, and more capable brothers. The fact that Jesse left David in the fields and failed to even bring him to the event revealed his heart and diminished expectations of his youngest son. Little did he know, this left-behind (literally) child would grow up to eventually lead God's chosen people.
Jesse, I am sure, underestimated the power that his words and actions had on his young son.
For some of us, this story may seem irrelevant. After all, what is the likelihood that my child is going to become king,,,or president...or cure cancer...or whatever! But that is exactly my point; we don't know. And we can't even begin to imagine what our children are capable of, particularly when they walk hand-in-hand with the Creator of the universe!
I am beginning to see the story of David played out in the lives of my students here in Uganda. Similar to David, many of these children are outcasts in their families. They are often despised and rejected with no expectations to succeed in life. Their brokenness and physical handicap¹ is simply disgraceful and unwelcomed in their communities. But like David, these children are rising above the odds and surpassing the limits that have been placed on them. They are succeeding in school, making friends, raising their own standards, and paving futures for themselves and others that will follow.
It is easy to look at these deaf children and see their disability...but why not look deeper to find their ability?
As parents and as Christians, we need to recognize the power our words have on our children. We need to be very cautious as to what we are saying to our children and about our children. Throughout scripture we are told that our words have the power to build others up or tear them down. It is up to us to decide how our words will be used.
Of course, we don't intentionally criticize our children's appearances or abilities, but what are some of the ways we are unconsciously influencing our children's self-image in our day-to-day lives? Moms, are you constantly standing in from of the mirror, complaining about the few extra pounds you have gained, inadvertently implying to your young daughter that a woman's worth is measured by the size of her waist? Dads, are you talking smack about the athletes on t.v., throwing out insults based on one man's performance that day?
This is not to criticize anyone's parenting styles at all, rather to call our attention to the delicate needs of our children.
We need to be the voice of truth in their lives.
We all know the phrase, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me..." Wrong! They do. And we need to stand in the gap and ensure that our children know who they are and Who's they are. The world will, no doubt, come at them with insults and offenses, tearing apart their character and the idiosyncrasies that make them unique. Therefore, it is essential that our children grow up knowing that they are made by God, in His perfect image.
So, we have a choice to make: We can either be the Jesse in our children's lives, setting low expectations and standards for our children; or we can be the Samuel in their lives, calling them forward to bigger and better things with Christ at the helm.
While our bodies may not appear to be perfect to the world, He made each of us EXACTLY how He wants us. And in the end, it is not our physical frame, but our heart, that God is after.
¹While mainstream America and countries around the world view deafness as a handicap, the Deaf community disagrees. Deaf people have chosen to stand--their inability to hear is not a disability. Instead, it is a ticket into a beautifully unique culture with its own language and opportunities.