We were trying to get in the car to leave the gym. I was putting my son into his booster seat, trying to navigate between the two month old raisin goo on his straps and the three week old animal crackers in his seat. If I had to choose I would rather touch the crackers than the raisin goo. Parenting: Living the dream, baby! Then I noticed my oldest daughter was not in the car. I looked up and saw her crying in my wife’s arms. The look on my wife’s face told me, the ever astute husband, this might be important.
I came to find out my daughter had thought something mean and ugly about another person at the gym. Now her sensitive little conscience was mauling her. Being bothered when you do something wrong is good, but her conscience wasn’t just pricking her, it was beating her over the head with a mallet. She felt guilty, shamed, and hopeless as only emotional little girls can. (This isn’t a slight against the female sex. Rather it’s a recognition that most men have the emotional capacity of tadpoles).
My daughter was overwhelmed with thoughts of guilt and was feeling that she was some sort of hopeless, horrible person who thought mean things about other people. She cried uncontrollably. What were we, as parents, to do?
My daughter doesn’t know it, but she’s entered the stage in her life where she has to now play the game. It’s a game we all have to play. Some of us start earlier than others, but everyone has to play eventually. Unfortunately this game doesn’t ever stop. We have to play until we die. There’s no opting out and no substitutions. Adam and Eve were the first to play, and man has been playing ever since.
In our lives we are ever surrounded, bombarded, and flooded with information, thoughts, and feelings. We are told how one should dress and feel, what is pretty, trendy, and valuable. We’re told what is good, bad, and ugly in the world in which we live. Thoughts about life, sex, money, purpose, and rightness are sprayed all over us like sprinkler watering a lawn.
The game could go by various names, but I like to call it the “What is True?” game. Our role in the game is to determine, among all we hear, what is true. Whether or not we “win” the game is determined by how we sift through all of the information we’re inundated with to live by what is really true.
The psalmist said, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path,” (Ps. 119:105). Paul told the Romans, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect,” (Rom. 12:2). Our challenge in the game is to sift our thoughts and feelings through the filter of the Scriptures so we may walk in the truth and not be deceived by the lies of the world.
Adam and Eve were the first to fail in this game. They believed the lies of the serpent. They believed God wasn’t good and that he was holding out on them. What did they get for losing the game? Sin entered the world and the hearts of men. Oh boy! Sin! Death! Corruption! It’s more exciting than the Price is Right…that is, if the Price is Right gave bad prizes…and if Bob Barker was the devil…never mind, bad illustration.
So what is my daughter to do? How do my wife and I help her win the game? We remind her of truth: there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Rom. 8:1), God is faithful to forgive us when we confess our sins to him, (1 John 1:9), and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, (Rom. 8:38-39). We remind her, so even at a young age, she can begin to play and win the game.
So how are you doing in the game? Ask yourself what is the truth about marriage, life, sexuality, success, purpose, money, and fulfillment. What has God said? What is the serpent saying? How can you better prepare yourself to win the game?
“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully on the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” (1 Peter 1:13, NKJV).
And remember to watch out for raisin goo.