We’ll call him Buster.
He was a lively four year old and he came to our door with a small bag of possessions and a face that registered expressive curiosity. He acted like a boy on an adventure and I wondered what he had been told, if anything, about his new reality.
In his bag was a red flannel pillowcase with an attached note that read: “Buster can’t fall sleep without this.” It was written with the old fashioned script of an elderly person–in this case Buster’s paternal great-grandmother.
Buster had been living with his paternal great grandparents for two years. It was a good, even great, arrangement for the little boy born to addicted parents.
Unlike most of the children who showed up at our door, Buster had the confidence of a well-loved child. His openness indicated he hadn’t been through the system long enough to be distrustful or jaded.
We fell in love with Buster and his adorable antics.
When Buster wanted to exert his will in a situation, he would read–whether it be food labels, clothing tags, or road signs. Somehow Buster had the idea that if it was in writing, it was official.
Early into his stay I attempted to coax him to finish his breakfast. “Buster, you need to eat your breakfast.”
Buster paused, looked around the table and then reached for the milk carton. He ran his finger over the type and read, “Boys don’t have to eat breakfast if thems don’t want to.”
A billboard sometimes read, “Buster can have Coke if him wants to have it because Coke isn’t bad for kids.”
One evening after I reminded Buster that it was time to get ready for bed, he read the label of his night shirt which said, “Buster can stay up because he’s not tired and he is big now.”
Usually Buster’s narrative far exceeded the print that contained his messages. Likewise, his darlingness often exceeded my ability to keep a straight face.
Why do I mention Buster?
He comes to mind when I find myself trying to interpret my perceived reality through the lens of past experiences or when I read into situations based on old data.
Life and circumstances can present a view of my reality–or worth, or lovability, or significance–that I often read with as much accuracy as Buster.
Past experiences involving rejection, abuse, abandonment, and betrayal can become lenses for how I perceive my world. They can cause me to view and read my current situation inaccurately as well, and, more to the point, they impact how I interpret myself.
When phone calls are unreturned, when thanks-yous are overlooked, when hurtful words pile up, when silence screams and loneliness surrounds, the bravest thing I can do is to remind myself that these are not indicators of my worth.
Staying in God’s word is the only way I know to keep an accurate view of myself. When a busy hurting world overlooks me and when my efforts to care, connect and belong fail, I cannot conclude that I am worthless and irrelevant. I cannot pull away and give up being who it is God has asked me to be.
The lens of God’s word says that my worth, validity and security don’t reside in what I can do for others–or in what others can do for me. They do not hinge on popular opinion or social politics. They are not maintained by the intermittent actions of others.
Sometimes my bravest act of the day is to ignore what I see and feel and experience and to accept His truth over my own perceptions.
I am loved. I am wanted. I belong.