The Sunday School Teacher’s Praise

“He is the sweetest boy, Jessica. Seriously, I know you’re not supposed to have favorites, but he’s definitely my favorite. Honestly, I could have 20 Caden’s!”

When that string of words first entered the air waves and descended upon my mama ears, mama ain’t gonna lie…mama’s heart was a little bit lot elated.

I mean, seriously, who doesn’t want to hear their child’s Sunday School teacher sing the affirming praises of their child?

No one. I repeat…NO ONE.

ESPECIALLY when they are affirming the very things we worry about and fear.

Sweetest,” she said, “sweetest boy.”

Now I realize that maybe others would have been more stoked about the whole “favorite” part but for this mama, I was pretty “off-the-hook-pumped” about the descriptor of “sweetest.”

Why?

Because if I’m being honest, one of my biggest fears is that people won’t take the time to get to know and understand the Caden I know and understand and simply label him as the “introverted kid.” I know I’ve written about this before, but I honestly worry that the world of extroverts (like myself) will only see him as a quiet, rule-following child who appreciates boundaries and big words, neglecting to see that OTHER side of my boy–the other side that I see and ALSO love–the sweet, affectionate, thoughtful, sensitive, emotional, friendly side.

Now, before it looks like I’m crazy anxious, let me explain why I fear what I fear.

My husband, who is honestly quite wonderful and absolutely amazing, is a lot like our son.

“So what is he like?” you ask.

Well, I’d say he’s a thoughtful observer who doesn’t feel the need to say everything he thinks and share everything he feels.

In a nut shell…he doesn’t suffer with diarrhea of the mouth and heart.

And I can not tell you how many times his quiet, more reserved personality has been perceived as “not friendly.”

“Is your husband mad?”

“Your husband seems really quiet. Does he not like me?”

“It’s hard to read your husband. What is he thinking?”

“Wow, your husband is really reserved.”

And though I really don’t know what each of those extroverted souls was REALLY thinking when they asked those questions and made those statements, MY extroverted brain has put 1 and 1 together and gotten…people assume that Quiet=Not Friendly.

But that JUST isn’t true and that JUST isn’t fair.

And so because of those past experiences coupled with new, more recent statements like, “Your son is a lot like your husband…,” I have come to fear that people will do what people (including me) do best…

They will lump ’em.

And the category I MOST fear is the “NOT FRIENDLY” category.

So when I heard those words this past Sunday, I truly had a moment where my heart and brain did a little “happy dance.”

Brain to self: “Whew! See! He is sweet. He is sweet. HE IS SWEET!!! People see it! People see it! PEOPLE SEE IT!!!”

But as quickly as my brain was reassuring me of the thing I ALREADY know about my kid, the Holy Spirit was convicting my soul in other ways. 

Jessica, does it really matter how other people see Caden?

Is being seen as the ‘sweet, friendly kid’ the identity you want Caden to have? Is it the identity I most want Caden to find and seek?

Doesn’t this hearken of the very things you have always struggled with– the fear of man, the seeking of others’ approval, the need for affirmation, the making people BIG and the ME small…??

Don’t you remember that I have ONLY EVER desired for your identity (and Caden’s for that matter) to be about ME and what I have done for you. Don’t you remember? I am the one who died for you…the one who redeemed you…the one who restored you…the one who has made you right with the Father when you were dead in your trespasses and sins and a hater of God…don’t you remember???

I’m not really sure what she saw on my face as I received her kind words, but there’s a very good chance that it looked really-super weird because I was honestly having 37 thoughts and 56 feelings all at the same time. But as I walked away with my son’s hand in mine, I had one driving feeling and one pressing thought.

“Lord, thank you for graciously reminding me (yet again) that our identity should never, EVER be based on anything but YOU… because YOU are our identities…the very sweetest part.” 

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One thought on “The Sunday School Teacher’s Praise

  1. I think we all fall victim to the praise of man from time-to-time. It makes total sense to me that this happens as a parent in regards to your children, too. Heck, it happens to me with my niece! Friend, your desire to find satisfaction in Christ is such a great example to your kiddos – it reminds THEM not to find THEIR satisfaction in anything (even Sunday School teachers’ praise) other than HIM, either. Love you – and you – and them.

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