A note to difficult children of any age

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I write this little post for the one who is known as a difficult child. You’ve been on my mind for days now, and a message has been forming for you. Today is the day to tell it.

As I thought about you and what you may have suffered or what you’re suffering even now, this is what came to me. “What if,” I said to myself (many great discoveries come in on the heels of this pairing, ‘what if’). “What if a difficult child isn’t really difficult? What if he/she is just having difficulty?”

It was like so many things I have learned. It was a subtle shift that took the feet, unknowing, down a path with just the slightest bend. As the Amtrak engineer throwing the switch, it shifts the track to the right or the left, and the train, coming along, ends up somewhere else. That’s what I’m trying to say.

Labels, I’ve found, are sticky, and therein lies a possible problem. If a label is right and true, then it ought to stick. Such labels are heartening and empowering, and they can guide us in paths of peace. They help us navigate life with greater ease and confidence, and the fruit is abundant and sweet.

However. There are plenty of labels that never should stick. They can come through words that should never have been said, deeds that should never have been done. The adhesive on these labels makes Gorilla Glue feel like Play-Doh, and it hurts like hell to remove them.

It hurts like hell to live with them.

Labels, good and bad, become our identities, and living from a wrong one is like wearing braces that don’t fit on crippled legs. Everything hurts when you move.

Here’s the truth. We cannot control the difficult things that happened to us. We didn’t choose it, didn’t want it, didn’t deserve it. Maybe, instead of being a difficult kid, you got a difficult parent. Or maybe you got a difficult teacher (or pastor or boss or friend). Whoever it was and wherever it happened, pain inflicted makes life difficult. We act and live from those wounds. The part we can control is what we do with them now (and all those difficult people in your life need to know this, too).

The first step, it seems to me, is to remove the old labels. This is hard work, and I know it. It can feel like you’re scraping and scraping, tearing skin with a wire brush to shed yourself of those lies. It’s very hard work, but it’s worth it. That’s a good place to start.

Beginning the process might look like this. “Yes, I’ve got difficulties, but I’m not a difficulty.” Or, “Yes, I have failed, but I am not a failure.” Or, “Yes, I have lost some things in life, but I am not a loser.”

Dear soul whose name is Difficult, I see you. Even better, the Great Friend sees you, too. And, seeing, He cares.

In His eyes, you are valued. In His eyes, you’re accepted. In His heart, you’re established, and nothing can keep you from His love.

I’d like to remind you that God has a wild and colorful history of using His most difficult kids to do the most amazing things. Not only is He not put off by our difficulties, but His tool box is deep and wide, and He helps us with each difficulty.

What a relief, such acceptance and love. What a hope for our future. To quote an angel choir, “Glory to God in the highest!”

With love for all of God’s “difficult” kids from another “difficult” one,



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