My son who is in fifth grade figured out how to game the educational system–pick the easiest project available, whatever takes the least amount of work, that will still earn him an A. For example, for book reports, he received a list of various projects to choose from. On one end of the how-much-help-from-your-parents-is-this-really-going-to-take spectrum, he could build a life-size mannequin. Or he could write five poems. So, pick the construction project using PVC pipes and styrofoam or write a few limericks? We got limericks.
What we also got is a poet! A boy who found his voice as a writer, using humor and metaphor to bring out what is stuck in his head. During one poem project, he asked me what to write. I replied that writers usually start with something they know. His face became focused, “I know what to do,” he stated plainly. I expected soccer, baseball, or his broken arm, considering a previous poem had been about his awesome hair. But this is what he wrote:
Regret drenched doubt dries and dies down,
Until left there is no more than a pound.
Oh how I hate doubt,
Although it’s just short and stout.
Doubt is careless,
It always thinks that it’s the fairest.
So blatant it is, it never lets you do your biz.
It makes me feel like I’m not a wiz.
Doubt eats up all your thoughts and
Makes us act like mindless robots.
Doubt takes up more room than the ocean,
It acts like a spreading lotion.
When doubt sets in
There is nowhere to begin.
It’s already started, your stomach tightens, and
You just might have farted.
(Please excuse the fart joke, you have to remember he is eleven!)
My stomach dropped when I read this, feeling first amazed that my kid created some powerful, gut-wrenching images, but then grieved as a parent peering into my child’s inner life, seeing how much he struggles. That he struggles with doubt and insecurity is not news in our house. We pray with him and for him about this. And it is also not surprising since these are my patterns of thought. So hard to see my own struggles play out in my son’s life! It is my doubt he feels.
Part of this is just how my brain works, and how, apparently, his brain works too: analyzing and considering every possible scenario. Useful, but paralyzing if I allow fear to linger even a bit. Fear of a bad outcome, fear of how my decision will affect others, fear of how my choice will change how people see me. I can become so full of self-doubt, that I can not move a mental inch because I am trying to avoid imagined disaster. But that is a horrible and hopeless place for my mind to get stuck.
So that is where I take my stand and fight–where I deliberately choose to renew my mind, to transform my pattern of thought, to stop my doubt and insecurity, to replace paralyzing fear with faith. (Romans 12:2) I have to purposefully replace doubt and fear with truth. Rehearsing confidence rather than insecurity. Submitting my own thoughts to the authority of God’s words, repeating what His Word says about me:
I did not receive a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)
I have security that all things will work together for my good (Romans 8:28)
Jesus will keep me strong until the end (1 Corinthians 1:8)
The Sovereign Lord is my hope and my confidence (Psalm 71:5)
God’s grace at work in me to heal, restore and redeem also spills into my son’s life. And I can teach him to fight the same fight of faith, to reject doubt and fear and to replace it with truth from God’s word. So, at the end of the day, and I do mean each night when I pray for my son, I pray that he knows in every cell, in every bit of his being, that he is deeply loved. No matter the struggle or difficulty, he has a God who is with him and for him, who loves him extravagantly. My son, who overthinks himself into a holding pattern, is receiving grace and truth from his Jesus. My son, the faithful, doubt-destroying poet, also wrote this:
Christ almighty is the best.
He is more truthful than the rest.
Will he ever die? Never.
He lives on forever.
He was the ultimate sacrifice.
His body the bread and blood the wine.
He commands us to be born again (that’s twice).
His legacy will forever shine.
On the cross he laid.
By his friend he was betrayed.
He was always reassuring.
He told us to stop worrying.
Three days later he rose
With holes in his hands and toes.
In the tomb he was wrapped in a shroud.
He ascended to Heaven on a cloud.
My son holds on to Jesus, who tells him to stop worrying. I love that! In our house we battle hard for our faith. (Even if we don’t work very hard on our homework.)
Fighting for faith and resting in grace,