The Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Child
I was listening to some analysts babble on and on about trauma therapy on a podcast today. It was excellent, if you like that kind of thing. Toward the end, one of them, Dr. Donald Kalsched, made a comment that really got to me. After nearly half a century of providing therapy, Dr. Kalsched said he could tell right away if the client’s parents did this thing or not when he or she was a child.
Now, as a Christian, I believe the greatest thing you can give a child is to model Jesus and speak of Him. However, what the psychologist said isn’t incompatible with faith. In fact, I believe it takes faith to do it.
So, what is this gift? When your child comes into the room, light up. In other words, enjoy your child.
I have a friend who does this with me whenever I’m in his presence. His face always beams with delight when he sees me, even though I feel like Eeyore. I don’t know how he does it.
I would like to give this same gift to my children, but I feel like I'm always preoccupied–do you know what I mean? My attention is either on the past or the future. I’m worrying about past failures or mistakes, or I’m anxious about future problems or opportunities, rather than ‘lighting up’ for my child in the present.
Did your parents light up for you? Can you say that they delighted in you?
If not, then that’s okay, because at least you can give this great gift to your children and loved ones. But, it takes faith! You have to have the kind of faith that believes God has dealt with your past and will care for you in the future. You have to have the kind of sincere faith that can sing with the Psalmist, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (118:24). When I read that verse, I can almost feel his face lighting up.
We are pale, sunken moons, who wax and wane with the seasons of life. The only way we’ll be able to light up for those we care about is if we reflect the light of the sun. God must give us the light of his joy, so that we can give it to others. “The joy of the Lord is my strength and my song” (Psalm 118:14).
What I like most about this gift is that you can do it no matter your circumstances. It’s tied to neither prosperity nor poverty. You can do it in sickness or in health. After a bad day or just before a good day. In the midst of failure or while you’re enjoying success. It doesn’t matter. You can light up for those you love, because you enjoy them. And that will be enough.
This doesn't mean you always have to light up. You can't be fake (though sometimes it might help!).
Finally, don’t underestimate this gift or try to replace it with another, lesser gift, for this is what your child truly needs. In fact, this is the first gift the father gave the Prodigal son when he returned home–the father’s face lights up and he runs to his son in joy.