It never ceases to amaze me when my kids become a mirror to my soul. In my last post, I wrote about my struggle with the need to be perfect and how God was working that out in my life. (Click here to read.) The journey has been hard, but nowhere near as hard as trusting God to work that out in my child.
I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that the daughter of two perfectionists would herself be just that. I didn't really see it before, but now that she has started school, it is becoming clear that our wee princess wants to get everything right, the first time, with no tolerance for mistakes.
I sat with her yesterday morning to work on a paper where she needed to trace some wavy lines. Such focus and concentration from a 4 year old at first made me proud; but, the moment she went ever so slightly off the line, she became a gush of tears and sobs. Seriously, it was just a minute flaw. Nothing to even worry with, but she was devastated. I said, "Honey, it's ok. It doesn't have to be perfect. You're just learning and this is just practicing." Her response..."Yes it does. I want to get a golden leaf."
"What? What's a golden leaf?" I asked as my teacher brain questioned all my motivational tactics from the past.
"You get it for doing good. It has to be right." More tears.
She was quite upset because she's been doing her best and being good and still hasn't attained this magical "golden leaf." (Does this remind you of the gold stars I talked about here?) Before you go nuts, we asked the teacher that afternoon and a golden leaf has nothing to do with work performance, but it is a reward for outstanding behavior and manners, the kind where kids go out of their way to be extra good.
Now I'm sure in my child's mind, she deserves a golden leaf. In fact, she told me so. She just hasn't been noticed yet. So I watch her striving and wrestling with this big girl world, and my heart breaks at her tears and her striving. I tell her that she doesn't have to be perfect and she doesn't have to have a golden leaf. She just needs to be nice and kind and do her best work and that's good enough.
How do I impart to her that God sees it all and His reward is what matters. How do I unlock the truth of Matthew 6:4? "Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." How do I work into the heart of a 4 year old to lay up treasures in heaven? (Matthew 6:19-20)
I cry with her and tell her that no matter what she does or no matter if she gets all the answers right or wrong, we will always love her. That she's loved so much, and I would give her a thousand Golden Leafs just because she's that wonderful. I wish I could just give this sense of priceless value to her, but it hasn't sunk into her spirit. She hasn't received it yet, so she strives onward unable to rest and just be secure in the amazing little person that she is.
Friend, do you feel the Father's heart towards us? I cry at my daughter's striving. I want to fix it and wipe her tears away and impart to her the security of my love and my belief in her, of the Father's love and belief in her, but she has to chose to accept it.
Do you see in this how Father God feels about His kids? He doesn't want us to strive and work tirelessly to the point of frustration to earn His "golden leaf" or anyone else's. He's already given us His everything. He will never love us more than at this moment. We can never be more accepted. We can waste tears and effort striving, or we can chose to rest in His love.
In our striving, He is saying to us the same thing I said to Samantha. We don't have to be perfect; We're just learning and this is just practice. He is saying that no matter what we do or if we get it all right or wrong, He will always love us. He wants to impart this sense of priceless value to us, but we continue to strive and refuse to let the truth sink into our spirits. We struggle and refuse to receive it as His free gift bought with the precious blood of Jesus.
He loves us so much He's given us way more than a golden leaf. He's given His love, acceptance, peace that passes understanding, joy unspeakable and full of glory, His presence, His approval. Beloved, He's given us everything. Why do we seek it elsewhere?
I'm sure that just as much as I want to press all this truth into the Princess's heart, Father God wants to impress this truth into my heart, into your heart. I wish I could just put it inside her, but at some point, she will have to receive it and make it her own. So I wait and pray for her to get it.
And Father waits too. He waits for us to accept and receive what He already knows is true. I'm sure it breaks His heart to see His children suffering. I'm sure He cries too, but the choice is ours to make. Will we continue striving or rest in the Father's love and peace?
Father help us to receive all that You've given to us. Help us learn of Your love and acceptance. Help us be still and know that You are God. Help us cease striving and be affirmed in Your love for us. (Psalm 46:10) Help your love and affirmation be more than enough...so much that we don't need a "golden leaf" from someone else to know that we are amazing. We are amazing just being who you've made us.
Thank you that we don't have to be perfect because Your strength is perfected in our weakness. (2 Cor 12:9). Write this on the tablets of our heart. (2 Corinthians 3:3, ) (Proverbs 7:3) Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake us; let us bind them around our neck and write them on the tablets of our hearts. So we will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. (Provers 3:3-4).
Help us not seek treasure and approval on this earth, but know and trust that our greatest treasure is in heaven. That you reward what the world doesn't see because You see, You smile, and Your reward is far greater than the reward of this world and far beyond anything we could ever imagine! (Matthew 6:4, Matthew 6:19-20, Ephesians 3:20)
Work this in our hearts Lord. Help us receive Your words of truth and rest in the Father's love. Amen