“Mom, why does God create bad people?”
I freeze, knowing that the answer to this question is so complex that I am only just now starting to understand it myself. I know what my daughter doesn’t, that the answer to this question begins with understanding our own humanity and at times, our lack of. She doesn’t yet fully comprehend that the recognition of our own need for grace is what gives us the compassion to show grace towards others.
I think for a moment, and I have the words. They are simple enough, but what the words don’t do is offer true understanding. They are just words…until they aren’t. Just words until we as individuals have the capacity and the life experience to make them come alive.
Nonetheless, I say them, “He doesn’t. He creates people in his image, He is good, and therefore people are created to be good. But, in His goodness, God also gave people free will. People can make choices on their own. God can bring good things out of bad situations, but he does not create people to be bad or cause bad things to happen.”
She nods. Accepts the words as truth, but I know what she doesn’t yet, she won’t truly understand until she experiences her own humanness and the humanness of other people. I know that the events that will teach her this will sometimes be difficult. It just won’t make sense until she internalizes her own need for grace over bitterness, resentment or revenge.
There is no easy way to learn these lessons. They are the lessons that bring us to our knees and back to the cross to remind us that we need grace ourselves. The lessons that challenge our ideas about self-worth, our place in the world and our purpose.
These difficult lessons change us. They break our hearts and give us the ability to understand what it feels like to hurt. They teach us compassion for other people and compassion for ourselves.
When the time comes for her to learn her own lessons, I will remind her of who she is, who she was made by and who will always meet her at the cross. I will emphasize to her that her worth is not tied to the opinion of others, or her performance.
I will walk beside her, I will carry her, I will kneel with her. I will not fight her battles, those are her victories to be earned, her own lessons to be learned. The lessons that will develop within her the kind of confidence and character that will allow her to sit with the broken, remind them of who they are and walk with them back to the cross when they are ready.
I will pray, encourage and support. For it was one of my own hard fought battles for my self-worth that I learned that the most precious resource and ally is the praying, encouraging and supportive kind.
It was during that same battle that I learned shame is the weapon of the enemy. It will destroy a person’s confidence in themselves and take away their ability to empathize and show compassion to themselves and others. Shaming will not bring the broken back to the cross.
My own beliefs about people who make bad choices (myself included) have and will form throughout a lifetime. They were shaped by my own relationships and experiences, just like hers will be. Her daddy and I will play a part in her view of herself (of this I am acutely aware). We will influence her view of other people and their choices, but she will synthesize our teaching and her learning and she will form her own beliefs.
Today, the words were simple, but soon enough they will take on a deeper meaning…and to be honest, I can’t wait to see what she learns. I can’t wait to learn from her.
For now, I try to model self-compassion, forgiveness and grace as I work through my own shortcomings and mistakes.
I speak to her with grace and understanding. I teach her that while her actions are important, her worth will never be decided by something she did or did not do. She is the daughter of a King and her worth is found right there.
To the same end, I remind her that no one else’s worth is decided by something they did or did not do. They are also sons and daughters of a King. We are called to love others regardless of good and bad choices, and that is the only reason we need to suspend judgement. We can disagree, dislike choices and choose boundaries but judgement of good or bad people…is not ours.
I pray that she looks for, and sees, the best in other people. That regardless of what the world tells her, she will remember there is a human on the other side. That she will be secure enough in who she is, and whose she is, to go into the broken places where others will not go.
I pray that she will have the emotional intelligence and courage to use boundaries to protect her own well-being rather than walls to keep people out.
I pray that when her heart is broken, it is also mended in a way that allows His light to shine through. That the breaking and mending would give her the perfect blend of courage, discernment and compassion to leave her heart open to ALL people.
In short…I talk, I pray, I love, I do my best, and I trust God.