Instead of nailing our children, we should call out beauty.
Join me by the sea of Galilee.
Philip had just met Jesus. Excited to follow him, he finds his friend, Nathanael, resting under a tree.
“We’ve found the Messiah!” Philip says. “His name is Jesus. He’s from Nazareth.”
Nathanael shakes his head. With eyes half-closed, he smirks. “You’ve got to be kidding. Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
“Nathanael, just come and see.”
Nathanael rolls his eyes, stands up, and brushes himself off. He’d been taking a bit of a mid-day break and is irritated at both the interruption and his friend’s naivete.
The young men approach Jesus – Philip, eager, Nathanael, aggravated. Jesus raises his eyes to the two, a smile creases his tanned face. He opens his ams in greeting. “Look at this! A truly honest man.”
Irritation slides off Nathanael’s face and is replaced by amazement. “How do you know me?”
“Nathanael, I saw you sitting under the fig tree.”
“Teacher, you are the Son of God! Nathanael responds. “You are the King of Israel! You’re the One we’ve been waiting for!”
Jesus’ smile creases deeper as he nods. “Oh, Nathanael. You believe because I saw you, but let me tell you this.” Jesus leans in closely with a message just for him. “You will see greater things.” Jesus whispers, “Nathanael, I’m the one. You know Jacob’s ladder that promised a way between heaven and earth? Nathanael, I am that way.”
Jesus called out beauty, opened Nathanael’s heart, and prepared the way for more, much more. For greater things. Nathanael joined his friends Philip and Andrew and Peter in following Jesus. For three years Nathanael followed him and watched him and learned from him. He saw much greater things.
When we choose to call out beauty in our children, we open the way for them to see much greater things. We are giving them a picture of Jesus, “bearing the image” of the One who offers life, and life to the full. But when we nail our children, we are shutting them down. Worse, we are giving them not a picture of Jesus, but one of their enemy who is the ultimate nailer, the accuser, the one who came to steal, kill, and destroy them.
I don’t want to be the mom who nails my children. I don’t want to be the one who’s “rough,” or hard, or impossible to talk to. But, sometimes I am. Sometimes the stress, the fatigue, the busyness, the monotony get to me and I nail them. But next time I feel like nailing them, I’m going to try and remember Jesus and Nathanael, and call out beauty.
What questions do you have about calling out beauty in your children? Does it seem like cheap grace to you? How does this challenge you? Affirm you? I’d love to hear from you, either in the comments or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.