Last night, my eight year old son and I went on a couch-to-5K run together. His friend, our neighbor, joined us for the first part of the walk/jog. After we dropped the neighbor off, we decided to keep walking and have a little time to talk. (I love that my son wants to do this so much that I could do cartwheels in the street. But I act cool.)
I noticed a beautiful butterfly, brown and blue and yellow wings struggling, resting on the pavement. My son knelt down and started to cup his hands around the hurt creature. I told him instead to find a twig and we would coax the butterfly onto the twig and off of the street. We did, it worked, and the butterfly stayed in the grass. As I walked away, I said, “He will probably die. But I hope he will die better than if he got run over in the road.”
My son answered, “I wonder if someone wants to give us a compliment.”
I pressed, interested in what he meant but totally clueless.
“God, Mom. I bet God wants to give us a compliment. Because we took care of one of his creatures.”
I loved that my 8 year old son knows that God sees us and actually likes us and the things we do. I didn’t learn that until I was well over 30.
We started guessing what kind of compliments God, our heavenly Father, would give us. I started listing ones I thought he might give my son. As a parent, I think I had some good ideas. Some my son accepted; one he told me was just dumb. (I acted cool again.)
It was fun but by this morning I had completely forgotten the entire exchange.
On Wednesdays, I often a join a community that fasts together for 24 hours. I
hate love it. It is just what I need but it can feel like a bitter medicine. With no lollipop afterwards.
I sat in the lobby at my YMCA so I could accomplish a few tasks while my daughter was in the free childcare. The invitation to fasting for me in this season is an invitation to silence. Since I cannot control the amount of silence in my outer world, I ask God to show me how to enter inner silence and hear his voice.
My heart was quiet and a voice piped up. I don’t even know if I can write down all it said but there were no compliments. I started listening. If you would plan better, your house would be clean. If you exercised more faithfully, you wouldn’t still have 10 pounds of baby weight. You don’t do enough. You’re actually pretty lazy. You should do more. If you tried harder…
Wait. Stop. This was not the voice of God. Condemnation comes from someone but it isn’t the Triune God. I know his voice. He tells me hard truths. He invites me to drastic change. He has journeyed with me through massive transformation of the soul, mind, body. His voice is not always easy but it is always love.
Seeing a blank note card in my bag, this crazy idea floated through my mind. Write yourself the compliments you think I’d give you.
I’m in the middle of the Y lobby. I’m already a little teary. I’m hungry. I’m going to cry in front of a lot of old men who are having coffee after their morning swim. Oh, alright.
So I do. And I do (cry, that is).
What compliments would God give you today? He will always be honest and he will always be love.