My Ryan was curled up in his bed under his covers. Hiding. Defeated. Pain written all over his face. Sadness clouded his eyes. He whimpered a little when I tried to talk to him. And my heart broke.
People don’t often get to see this side of my Ryan. What they see is an active, sharp boy who thinks he’s always right. He appears confident. But under that confidence, he hurts just like the rest of us.
I knew what was plaguing his mind. He didn’t even have to tell me. I’d seen it played out in his life time and time again. He’d done something wrong, and he was ashamed of his very existence. To him, when he fails or when someone points out a fault in him, he believes everyone hates him. Us, his friends, his teachers, even God. I told him God loves him, and he shook his head. “No he doesn’t, ” he whispered, choked up with tears. He could not believe me.
What he did believe was that something was wrong with him, and that no one on this whole earth loved him. That he was a failure. Unworthy of love. Rejected. “I wish I was never made,” he said. How familiar these feelings were to me. Myself having struggled with insecurity and rejection most of my life.
The tears welled up in my eyes. My sweet baby. Oh how I wanted him to grasp how precious he is to us. How precious he is to God.
So I started to tell him his story.
“You know, Ryan, we weren’t a very good mom and dad when you were really little. We didn’t know how to teach you about how special you are. That’s why you feel so ashamed of yourself. I’m so so sorry. We did our best, but we didn’t know how to be good parents. But even before you started growing in my tummy, I knew your name would be Ryan. God told me that one day. And I loved that name.”
his big, sad doe eyes found mine. I had his attention.
“And one day, dad and I decided we wanted another baby in our family. We wanted you. So we waited and waited, and then one night, in the middle of the night, I took a pregnancy test and found out you were coming! I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep!”
a faint smile played on the corners of his lips.
“But I had to wait a whole day to tell dad because he was gone for the weekend playing softball. When he got home, I told him right away and he nearly jumped up and down he was so excited!”
“And then the whole time I was pregnant with you, everyone thought you were going to be a girl. We already had two girls, so both dad and I were really hoping you would be a boy. When you came out, dad looked down and smiled really big. You were a boy! Dad was so excited! I was too!”
“When Aunt Sarah came to visit you, she didn’t believe us that you were a boy. She thought we were playing a trick on her, so she took off your diaper to check!”
“Do you see how wanted you are? How much we loved you even before we knew you were coming? How excited we were to meet you? How much joy you bring us? And God loved you before he even started making you. He knew what family to put you in, he knew every thing you’d be good at, he knew your heart. You are his child, my sweet son. I am so so so glad to have you. I wouldn’t trade you for anything in this world. Not anything.”
peace fell over his face.
And then I loved on him. Kissed him. Held him. Hugged him. Prayed for him. I prayed that old foundations of insecurity and rejection will be torn down, and that God by a miracle would build a new foundation of acceptance in my boy. I have hope that God will restore what we as parents didn’t and couldn’t give Ryan.
I know that in His timing, He will work wonders in Ryan’s heart. For now, my job is to love him as best I can, pray like crazy, and to trust God.
Deep down, isn’t that what we all want? To be wanted, loved, accepted. To know we matter, to know we belong.
And only God can give that to us in the truest, most fulfilling form. He fills the holes in our hearts. And I am so thankful for that.