Five-month-old Luke is crawling now… or at least scooting very purposefully. And with every scoot, we get inches closer to a collision with two-year-old Theo’s self-orientation.
Theo, our funny, introverted, snuggly, more-than-a-little-bit-opinionated boy has had two and a half years’ “reign” on the throne. By that I mean, more often than not, things go his way.
Or he thinks they do.
If he and Luke are riding in the double stroller and the big kids ride their bikes down the opposite way (intending to double back and catch up to us after a bit), he yells out, “Guys, ‘mon!” (Guys, come on!) And then they come. This morning, after I asked Baxter (11 years old) to finish loading the dishes and get the dishwasher started, Theo barked out: “Ba-ter, loading!” And big brother begins loading the dishes. Baxter giggled and we laughed about Theo’s faulty perception that he’s the boss.
It’s coming to an end.
Already Luke is grabbing for Theo’s toys. For now, Theo is mostly willing to go along with these small interruptions, but more are coming… and they won’t be of the variety that will be easy for him to accept. Soon Luke will be knocking down towers Theo has built, messing up lines of cars Theo has laid out, and grabbing parts of Theo’s snack.
And some of you may be thinking, “aw, poor Theo… ”
You might think me an unfeeling mother, but the truth is it is GOOD for Theo to have his self-orientation destroyed. It is GOOD for him to come face-to-face with this reality early in his life. It is GOOD for him to see that I do not exist for him, his daddy does not exist for him, his siblings do not exist for him… that he is merely one creation rather than the centerpiece of all God has made.
His heart is oriented toward himself and his own pleasure.
But it’s not just Theo’s problem. It happens with all of my kids, and with yours, too. It’s my problem… and yours.
All of us need to see: it’s not about me!
The worst things we see in the world around us come from a fierce self-orientation:
- Kim Jong Il dictates his own worship, killing and subduing the rights of an entire country of people, because of his commitment to his own self-worship.
- Babies are aborted, at the rate of millions a year, because of a commitment to one’s own pleasure in sexuality, without regard for others (including the life created by that sexual union).
- A man insists he isn’t really a man, despite the fact that he’s fathered multiple children, married multiple women, and won olympic games as a man, and instead of getting that man help, our culture celebrates it because “he’s being true to himself.” (If that’s not ironic, I don’t know what is! He’s denying what he is and saying he’s something different.)
- We are now told by our Supreme Court that people should able to marry whomever they wish, because self-expression is a supreme value in our self-oriented culture.
- Marriages fall apart (unfortunately in the church too) because people are more committed to “loving themselves” and fiercely seeking their own happiness rather than committed to loving another and fiercely seeking their happiness.
Romans 1:21-32 lays out what happens when we turn inward rather than outward:
although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Theo’s self-orientation is really self-worship. And it is a wonderful thing for him to get over it… in all sorts of ways.
I pray that as Theo comes to the reality that he is not on the throne, that he will begin “feeling his way” toward the truth that God:
- is on the throne of Heaven
- is to be on the throne of his life
- is to be worshipped, instead of the creation
- is the One who gets to tell us what He made us for
- is the One who draws the boundary markers for our lives, and
- gives us boundaries for our good and for His glory.
It is so, so GOOD for our children to come to the end of themselves. It is GOOD for them to realize that they are not on the throne, not at the center, and not the one whose desires matter most of all.
It would be good:
- for Kim Jong Il to stop this self-adulation and free his country
- for mothers to choose self-control through no sex outside of marriage, or to give life to the babies created from their actions (even if that means those children are given up for adoption… a number of my best friends are adopted and I’m so glad they were given life!)
- for Bruce Jenner to be at rest with the way God created him and find joy and peace within the confines of where his boundary markers are rather than pretending that he does not have God-given limitations
- for all of us to learn to love the “others”– races, the two genders each orienting themselves toward “other” rather than “same,” ages, nationalities, socio-economic strata (psst… this is exactly what God means to happen inside of the church)
- for marriages to endure difficulty, hurt, frustration, and sin.
What a beautiful thing it is when we go outside of ourselves, go beyond what is “same,” and pursue that which is “other”– LOVE that which is “other”– fiercely commit ourselves to pursuing the joy and blessing of the “other.”
It’s a lesson Theo is starting to learn, and I pray he’ll take it to heart and keep reaching outside of himself, outside of things that make him happy, and become a willing, submissive disciple of Christ… placing HIM at the center, rather than self.
Mama, even if your child has no younger siblings to help with this, don’t let your child go through life convinced that they are at the center of the world and on the throne.
It is a GOOD thing when our children learn, “It’s not all about me.”