LETTERS TO THE NEW DAD
Raise a Truth-Teller
“Once your soul has been enlarged by truth,
“It can never go back to its original size.”
I can’t NOT tell it. It’s one of our favorite family stories – and a peek into the marvels of your mischievous imagination.
I could almost break out laughing as I’m typing this – but that day I was mortified, incredulous, and walking around in a state of disbelief. It left me speaking as if I had no command of the human language.
After the “incident”, I spent the rest of the day in half sentences.
“Son, why did you…?” “Jesse, what made you…?”
I’m a fairly intelligent woman – but for the life of me I could not form a complete thought. Each sentence ultimately ended with me throwing up my hands, shaking my head, and walking away.
I couldn’t be angry with you – you were only four. Dropping you off at preschool that morning, I had no idea the day would become an iconic memory in our hearts.
I picked you up at 2:30 – just like every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, only this time was different from the moment I walked through the church doors. One of your teachers caught sight of me.
“Oh, Mrs. Maulsby – how are you? How is your family? So glad everyone is alright!”
In a state of confusion, before I could ask what she meant, another teacher caught my arm and threw her arms around me.
“Oh we are praying for you all – we are so excited, we have been collecting things for you all day!”
I found myself being propelled towards a stack of black garbage bags that lined the church hallway.
“These are clothes.” She said as she handed me a tied off bag.
“And towels…kitchen supplies…” Her voice faded into the background as the other teacher led you into the hall with backpack in hand, and big smile on your face.
“What? What is all this for?” I finally interrupted. “Why did you all do this?”
Her eyebrows raised. “Why, we did it for YOU. Because of the fire…the fire that burnt your house down last night!”
You stood there so calmly, big smile and all, completely unfazed by the predicament you created for me.
“Fire?” I could hear my voice skip several decibel levels. “FIRE?!”
Still you smiled…I looked at you – I looked at them – back at you. I did some quick deducing to see if I had a chance to run out the door, and have your father come back and pick you up. No such luck.
“There has been no fire…our house did not burn down…we did not lose everything.”
Are there enough apologies for a lie that had spurred an entire church into collecting things for a family who had not lost one single possession in a fire?
“I’m so sorry. So so sorry. So very very sorry. I have no idea why…” That’s where the half sentences began.
“Jesse, why did you tell them we had a fire last night?” I wondered if strangling a four year old at preschool would be grounds for a call to child welfare.
Then, you shrugged your shoulders! As if we were all just a bunch of uptight adults who took life too seriously. (I’m laughing as I think of your big blue eyes looking up at me like I was the one with the problem.)
“Prayer request time was boring,” you said mid-shrug, “so I told ‘em we had a fire.” Then you, and your backpack, calmly walked out the door and towards the car. Unfazed by the collateral damage I had to face.
To say my apologies were profuse would be an understatement. I plotted your punishment all the way home – in between half- sentences. Lucky for you I decided against slow torture, and settled for a long talk (which actually could be described as slow torture, I guess) and no toys for the night.
I don’t think they let you participate in prayer requests the rest of the year!
So just know ahead of time – It’s not uncommon for children to make things up, or create their own reality. Max will try it too, and when he does, they will be teachable moments.
Because there are some things parents cannot let slide – and establishing a truthful heart is one of them. Truthfully, it’s a fine line we walk as parents teaching truth to our children.
We want to create a safe environment for truth telling, but sometimes the lie is big enough that punishment is involved. You have to be careful, though, because if the discipline is extreme – you just create even more reason for the child to lie in the future. Whew! Parenting is heavy work!
Which is why we need Truth — so He can help us teach it.
A lot of things are negotiable in life – teach Max that truth isn’t one of them. It is valuable, it is precious – and it is to be “bound around our necks and written on our hearts.” (Prov. 3:2-4)
Now, here’s where it gets tricky – only the Truth, Himself, can write on Max’s heart. We can bind it around his neck – but we cannot inscribe it onto his heart.
We can influence, we can lead, we can exemplify, we can pray – but we cannot write on a human heart.
Only God has access to the heart.
So, for our children’s sake, we pray on their behalf, that He, with His mighty penmanship, would inscribe truth onto, and into, the hearts of our children.
We pray that He would give them a love for Himself. We pray they grow in truth, that they might be able to stand wholly honest in front of Him who is true.
We pray that, no matter how hard the consequences, if there is any dishonesty or untruthfulness, the Lord would reveal it – expose it to prevent ruin in a child’s life.
And the wisest parents will pray the same thing for themselves. Because children will learn truth only if they have parents who live truth.
It doesn’t mean that they, or we, will always live truthful. We live in a world where the father of lies has great influence, and he will try with all his might to confound and confuse.
The temptation to be dishonest will get to the best of us. The enemy knows that if he can get us to believe one of his lies – he can begin blinding us to truth. So, we ourselves, are not immune to dishonesty – which is why we pray for a heart like God’s.
Because a heart after God will confess his sin, and live in Truth’s forgiveness.
I have loved watching as God has matured you into a man of strong character. Many times I have seen you stand in truth, instead of cower in falsehoods. By watching you, Max will learn to stand, not cower.
From your strong stance on truth, Max will learn dishonesty is cowardly.
From your forgiveness when he distorts truth, Max will learn grace in failings.
From your love and guidance in God’s principles, Max will become “rooted and grounded in love, and able to comprehend what is the breadth, length, height and depth of Christ’s love.” (Eph. 3:17-19)
A heart, with the handwriting of God on it, is drawn to truth. And when it makes mistakes, it is a heart drawn to forgiveness and restoration.
The more we long for Truth – the more Truth reveals Himself. The more He reveals Himself – the more we long for Truth.
So, I pray for Max the same way I prayed for you and Jennah – that the Lord would so draw his heart to Himself, Max couldn’t help but fall in love with Him.
Because a child who knows just rules, without having a love for the Ruler, lives in a world of constant failures – because who could ever live up to all that the world expects out of us?
But a child who loves the Ruler…that child will have all of heaven opened up for him.
That child will be able to listen to a Shepherd’s voice, and if he fails, will be able to accept His teaching and His forgiveness.
That child will be able to determine truth and choose it for himself.
A child who loves the Ruler – learns also to love truth – and lives in grace. Not perfection – grace.
So, I pray over you, and for you, my son:
That the Lord, Himself, would continue to draw your own heart ever closer to Him as He prepares you for being Max’s father. I pray that you are comfortable and relaxed in His love, and that your heart always remains sensitive to His leading.
I pray for truth to be ever before you in your business dealings and personal life. I pray that God, who has blessed you so kindly, continues to make His delight in you known to you, and that you feel His pleasure in you.
I pray that He knits you and Sara always closer, as the two of you seek Truth together, and establish Truth in your home.
And I pray that you bind truth around your neck, and allow God to inscribe it on your heart – because if it is – it will teach Max all he needs to know about living a truthful, and Truth-full, life.
With Much Love,