Our children have been walking through so much, and I want to share this in confidence that it will help someone else reach their own child.
While sitting at dinner, I noticed a mark on my child’s hand. It was unusual, and I asked about it. They immediately started telling me how no one had done it to them. I have a strong core value about siblings not using their strength to communicate, and they were trying to protect their siblings from getting in trouble, but something felt off. We were laughing on my bed the following day, and I noticed it again. I asked, and their response was almost pleading with me that it was nothing. I let it go, but about ten minutes later, I sensed God highlighting it again. I asked them to show me how it happened as their story didn’t line up. They acted out how the mark happened, and it was almost comical how impossible it would have been to create a mark like that. I knew something deeper was going on. I could discern two things: #1. They were covering up something, and #2. They were worried they would be in trouble. I told them I was not mad and that it wasn’t about getting in trouble but being free from whatever it was. I asked them to get their journal and process the story with Jesus (because they know they can tell Him anything and that He is their safe advocate). I was in my room praying that Holy Spirit would lead them and convict their heart (because we partner together to raise my children). They returned, holding back tears, and told me they made the mark themselves. Since cutting is a serious issue, I was most alarmed. They began to tell me that the other day they felt alone and wanted someone to SEE them (yes, kids can feel unseen when you are together 24/7 in a household of 7). This is a child in pain and not having the maturity yet to fully walk it out.
Children often make messes in their pain. When we only focus on the ‘mark’ or mess, we will miss the pain that is underneath. If we are not alert, we will push the pain further, causing them to want to self-protect, which only traps the pain. I knew they had just experienced adult-sized rejection and radical injustice and asked how they felt about it, and they burst into tears sobbing. The injustice done to them would cripple most adults, and their pain was valid. My heart bled for them, but it allowed me to help them process the pain and bring it to Jesus. They needed to know that Jesus saw their heart (not just their immature way of communicating). Here is the sad part of the story. They got what they wanted – for someone to see them, but with it came shame and embarrassment for what they did. It gave me a priceless opportunity to sit all of the kids down and talk about healthy ways to process our hearts without the price tag of shame. Things like porn, alcohol, shopping, swearing, lying, self-harming, etc., are just flags being waved, saying, “I am in pain and need help.” Our children are also learning how to deal with their pain as sons and daughters.