By Joyce Herron, Founder of Trinity Christian School, Lubbock, TX
Invalidation is to reject, ignore, mock, judge or diminish someone’s feelings. Emotional abuse victims can become so convinced that they are worthless that they believe that no one else could want them. Their ultimate fear is being all alone.
Recently, as I was reading John 5, I recalled a lesson I learned from my teenager that I have never forgotten. John 5 tells us about the crippled man who waited 38 years to be healed. Why was he not healed? He said,” No one helped him.” He desired to be healed. He did not have the faith to move his mat. Sometimes our children are that way. They think everyone is successful except them. They do not have the faith to take that step out. Sometimes our peers are that way, or a parent who lacks confidence will fail to act. Sometimes one will not feel free to ask for help. We often use only those who volunteer over and over again when we perhaps need to use those who are afraid to fail to help them. We must reach out and help them.
I love Ps. 78, which reads: “He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they, in turn, would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. Without one generation helping the other, they are lost.
A couple of weeks ago, a teenage grand asked me, “Grandma, have you ever done anything wrong?” That was a teaching moment for me, and I did use it to tell her some things as I will use this true story to hopefully teach you that you may learn from my mistakes and not have to make this one yourself.
My son, Scott, will be 65 years old in a few months. He loves people, he is a reader, and he loves music. He is intelligent and very humorous. He always had a band and spent a great deal of his time in his detached room where they practiced. I did not always know all of his teenage friends but felt comfortable hanging out at our home.
One day a boy named Jim came. Jim had long hair before it was in style. He was filthy. When he came through the door and into the kitchen, he put his dirty hand into my cookie jar for some cookies. He came often. One day, I said to Scott. “Do you think you could find a cleaner friend? That boy needs to get a shower before he comes, and I do not appreciate his dirty hands in my cookie jar.”
Scott just looked at me and went out to his room. About an hour went by, and I received a phone call. It was Jim. He said, “Mrs. Herron, please don’t make Scott quit being my friend. He is the best friend I have ever had. I will go home and get a shower before I come. I won’t put my hand in your cookie jar. I am sorry. Your house smells like mine did before my mother died.” That was about fifty years ago, but I have never forgotten that lesson.
Well, I was stumbling for words, trying to get out of the hole I dug for myself. As soon as I hung up, I went out to Scott’s room and said, “I cannot believe you told Jim what I said.” He responded, “Mother, you are a Christian. What happened to the Good Samaritan story? Mom, you judged Jim, and you don’t even know him. His mother was a music teacher. She had Arthritis. His Dad was an alcoholic. Every day, Jim went home at lunch and turned his mom over in her bed because she could not do it alone. She died a few weeks ago. Jim had to get a job at a service station. That is why he is so dirty when he comes after work. He is teaching me all the music his mom taught him.
My husband became a mentor for Jim, and as one of our own, we took him on several weekend trips with us. Jim went into the U.S Navy. I almost missed that opportunity and the blessing. I learned a huge lesson that I never forgot from my son. We must get understanding because understanding brings wisdom.
Our children are always watching us. One night after her Pre Schooler had been at my house, my daughter asked her, “Did you have fun at Grandma’s? She answered, “Jesus loves Grandma.” What made her say that? What did she taste, hear or see that made her respond with those words? I wish I knew.
A little four-year-old visiting with her mommy at a friend’s home kept starring at the friend’s expanded tummy. The lady said, “I have a baby in my tummy,”….to which the little girl replied, “My mommy has Jesus in her heart.”
So what does Jesus in our heart look like to a child, to a teen to a peer?