You Are Special (Rooted Parent)
I have three boys ranging from ten to three. I live in slight fear that my children will turn out like the classic millennial stereotype: entitled with four degrees living at home. I try to not helicopter parent, but instead I try to do all the things that I’m told will keep my kids from moving back in at age 30—including refraining from the everyone-gets-a-trophy-because-everyone-is-special style of parenting.
But the other night, when I read You are Special by Max Lucado, I was reminded that our children do need to be told they are special. After we finished the story, my 6-year-old son (who is often harder to reach) looked at me with these softened eyes and said so simply yet with great insight ,“That is a great story.” And it is—it is a storyline that we crave.
You Are Special is a Gospel story put in the context of the fictional Wemmicks, wooden people created by the woodworker Eli. One Wemmick, Punchinello, begins to believe that he isn’t a good Wemmick—he can’t sing, he can’t dance, he isn’t smart, and he quite simply makes a mess of life. But his life is changed when he begins to spend time with Eli, his Creator. “Remember,” Eli said as the Wemmick walked out the door, ‘you are special because I made you. And I don’t make mistakes.’ Punchinello didn’t stop, but in his heart he thought, ‘I think he really means it.’”
My son recognized the good news in this story without my even mentioning Jesus. He could see that the one who “could do little” was special simply because the Maker had made him and loved him.
Similarly, my skepticism was suspended during another bedtime story with the same son. In Nancy Tillman’s On the Night You Were Born, she describes nature’s reaction to a baby being born. So many times I had read this story, thinking it was a bit corny. Sure, it is sweet, but polar bears dancing because you were born? It seemed to be a bit much.
But my heart was touched that night even at the first page: On the night you were born, the moon smiled with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered, “Life will never be the same.”
I looked at my earnest six-year-old son, and how could I not tell him that it was true—that “heaven blew every trumpet and played every horn on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born.” It wasn’t a corny book anymore. It was truth.
It awakened something in my son. He needed that reminder that he is special.
How often do we see Psalm 139 placed in nurseries or on birth announcements proclaiming the Father’s sovereignty and love in creating our children? “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:13-14) Yet we forget to keep writing this scripture on their hearts as they grow.
Our children are not just special as the world calls one “special.” They are special because of Who made them and Who loves them. If I tell my children that they are special because one can play piano quite well or because one dribbles the basketball easily, then that is law upon them. It will feel good to be told that, but what if he misses the piano note or loses the game? His identity in being “special” is in peril. Our children aren’t dumb. They’ll know this brand of “special” is conditional.
When we tell them, though, that they are special because God loves them, we are teaching them that their identity is based on who they are in God’s eyes. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1). It seems so obvious, but I think that’s the problem—I forget to tell my children, again and again, that they are special simply because they are His. And similarly, I forget to remind myself of this fact. My six-year-old needs it, your sixteen- year-old needs it, we all need it.
My children’s knowledge of how loved they are despite themselves–past, present, and future– is fundamental to their walk with Jesus. I pray that this knowledge of who and Whose they are can and will change everything. So that as they grow, and friends change, or they choose a college or a place to live (that is not my house)—as all these things try to pull upon and dictate their identities—that they would never forget just how special they are because they have a God whose love for them knows no limits.
So whenever you doubt just how special you are and you wonder who loves you, how much and how far, listen for geese honking high in the sky. (They’re singing a song to remember you by.) Or notice the bears asleep at the zoo. (It’s because they’ve been dancing all night for you!) Or drift off to sleep to the sound of the wind. (Listen closely…it’s whispering your name again!) from On the Night You Were Born