I see myself in my children.
It's thrilling. It's frightening. It's frustrating. It's humbling. It's revealing.
In Silas, my oldest, I see my raging ambition. He is ever hungry for achievement, thirsty for praise, and desperate for attention. He is motivated to perform, to achieve. He wants it all: all the success, all the praise and all the perfection. It is a beautiful thing to watch him work hard to be better. It is a horrifying thing to see his value get wrapped up in it. I see his tears of frustration "how come so-and-so is always better at everything than me? How come I am not good at anything? I'm not good at anything." "I just want it to be perfect, I can't do it..." I hear his cries and they are merely echoes of what reverberates around the walls of my own mind. And I find myself consoling him with what should console me "it doesn't matter, it's not a competition, you are loved no matter what, there will always be people better at things than you..." Truly, that is no consolation really. It's not the whole answer to what ails him, and I.
I love watching Silas push and pull, strive and thrive, and reach for greater heights. But then I see the impact on those around him. Competition rubs shoulders with no one. It pushes down to step on top of, it robs of relationships and the fear that motivates it is the statement: I am never enough.
As I reflect on what I see in him, it drives me to pray for us both. "O God, we would never be enough. All I have, all I am, is in You. You are my only worth. Thank you that it has never been about what I do, and it is all about what You have done for me."
In Toby, I see my heart for people. His empathy, his compassion, his need for connection, for relationship. He loves to be touched, to be held, to be seen, to be known, "come play with me" he says all day. It too is the song of my own heart. I need people, and connection. I see the tenderness that causes in him and it's beautiful. And it's fragile. When his needs are not met, when he is so so easily hurt by others, he lashes out in anger and frustration. He gets mad and shuts himself off. I see him there in the corner, hiding with silent tears down his face "why doesn't he want to play with me," and I feel the sadness as he sees his cousins leave today and says "now we won't laugh as much." I find myself wrapping him up in my arms, wishing I could take the pain away and reminding him "you are loved now matter what, no matter if people come or go, play with you or don't, you are loved." His deep love for people is his greatest strength but his need for people is his greatest weakness.
I pray for us both, "O God, how much more I need you than others. Thank you that your love holds me fast. That you always see me, always know me, are always reaching to connect with me. When all others fail me and reject me, when they break my heart, you never let me go."
And I see the two brothers, always at war with each other. As these two attributes of myself rage against each other in me. Fighting to be noticed, fighting to be loved, fighting to be the best, fighting always. I want to care deeply for others, but I want to achieve. I need to connect with people but I want to perform.
The answer for me, is the same as for them. "Remain in His love alone." A love that is not based on performance, that is not based on other people. A love that could never be earned and could never be lost. A love that never rejects, that never abandons. A love that has come down, Emmanuel, God with us.
I see myself in my children and I see my need of Christ, in their need of Christ. We are all the same: broken, wounded, seeking, lost without a savior. Love has come. Love is near. Lean in, O soul, cling hard, O children, let Him love you and remain in His love.