I had the great joy of taking my littles to the Grand Opera House in Macon yesterday to see Rainbow Fish. Field trip! I LOVE live theater. I give thanks for parents who, while they didn’t have much extra, made sure we saw live plays and classical concerts. Love love love it. It is so fun for me to see the love of it growing in all of my children.
My 8 year old daughter loves to read. Over doing ANYTHING else, except maybe playing outside with her friends. (And in response to my family here, yes, it’s payback–she comes by it honestly.) She has recently picked up her children’s Bible and is reading through it for a second time. If she doesn’t become a minister, I will be quite surprised. The questions she comes up with floor me sometimes. Over the weekend she asked, “So Mama, is Jesus and all of his family, like Mary and Joseph, living up in Heaven too?” She’s quite taken with the idea of who all is there now that she has folks she treasures there.
So yesterday morning as we were waiting for the play to begin, she leaned over and whispered, “Mama, who told Jesus he was God’s son?” Um, what? “Was it his Mama and Daddy? Joseph and Mary?”
Wow. Just wow. Without getting into a theological discussion here, as I’m not a good enough Biblical scholar for that, I had no idea how to properly her. After doing a little searching, I don’t know that there is a set answer. So. Yeah. Maybe?
The lights dimmed, and the play began. My littles and I were entranced with the great performance of four fabulous actors telling the story of someone becoming happy when she shared her gifts. Throughout I found myself thinking about that question. And then this: who told me who I was? My parents. They not only told me who I was, they gave me the gift of KNOWING I could do anything I chose to set my mind and abilities to. (Yeah, I know, except for putting that toothpaste back in the tube. But I am working on it.) They empowered me to set out on my dreams. You want to get a job? Okay, we’ll get you there and back, as I couldn’t drive yet. You want to go to Wesleyan? Okay, we’ll help you do the things you need to do to make that happen. More than things like that, they told me what I was. They told me I was smart. That I was capable. That I could do great things. Mama told me often I was beautiful, and while I think she was quite biased, it made me feel good. They gave me the confidence to step out in this world and try to do the great things, big or small, they raised me to do. And when the world hit back, really, really hard? They opened their door as sanctuary once again, and helped me put the pieces back together. Yes, it was Mama and Daddy who told me who I was and then gave me the strength, encouragement, and resources to keep on becoming more.
This month is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. It was a year ago that A Silence of Mockingbirds by Karen Spears Zacharias was released. If you haven’t read anything by her, you really, really should. Great writer and fantastic soul. In all honesty, if someone else had written this story, I would not have read it. I knew the story would be hard, but I trusted Karen that this was a story that needed telling. And it is. I had the book in hand by Friday afternoon, and I was finished reading it by Saturday afternoon–AND no one had to wear dirty clothes or go without a meal. It was a compelling read…..which is hard to believe, considering I already knew the ending.
The thing is, child abuse is something that is hard to think about. We want to believe that the system is in place to protect children. Friends, it is not, as Karen shares in her story. There are holes in the system and WE must be the fillers. We have to be a part of the system that fights for them. We as individuals, we as community, we as church, we as the world, MUST be defenders of those who cannot defend themselves. I could make all kinds of suggestions here on how to get involved, but one the best things to do is read this book. Karen has taken time to do the right research and tells us what we can do to make a difference. If you can’t handle reading it, I get it, really I do. Please contact your local child abuse prevention organization and educate yourself. There’s great information on the internet too. If we are educated, we know what to look for and who to call and how to help. It is imperative that we are prepared. I don’t know how to say this any stronger. IT IS UP TO US. WE HAVE TO ACT.
My parents told me who I was. Somebody. And many times, they had to remind me to “Act like you are somebody.” I knew I was loved and treasured and when they disciplined me, it was because they knew I had better in me. WE have to be the ones to tell these little ones and big ones, who are trapped in brokenness and who are hearing all the wrong messages, who they are. They are loved. They are treasured. They are capable, and this is not their fault. They are worth our time and effort and love. They are worth our getting involved.
Who told Jesus he was God’s son? I’m not sure. But I am sure what he told us. To take care of those who need help–the children. Today I am thankful for my little minister who made me think about this, so I would re-commit myself to telling the little ones who they are.
For more information about Karen’s book and Karly’s story, go to http://karenzach.com/meet-karly-sheehan/