One day our youngest son, I think he was second or third grade, came from school looking very sad. I took a quick look at his face and within a second knew there was something wrong with him.
When we got home, I called him to my bedroom and asked, “You look very sad. Is there something you want to talk about?” His eyes were actually ready to let it all out.
So, wiping his tears, he said, “So and so said to me, “Your Mama doesn’t look like a mother.”
Helping him wipe his tears, I asked him, “Did you ask him what your Mama looks like?”
“Why should I?” I could tell from my son’s voice that he was very frustrated with my question.
He said, “Have you seen his mom?”
I answered, “Yes, I have.”
He said, “His mom looks like a mother. You always come to school right before you go to gym and you look like a high school student. You don’t look like a mother.”
I always see the boy’s mom in the morning, wearing a skirt with jacket and high heel shoes.
I asked him, “So, do you want me to wear like her in the morning so that I would look like a mother?”
He nodded. I hugged him and said, “That is very easy for me to do, hun.”
So, the next day, imagine me, I got up in the morning and put my skirt, jacket and high heel shoes. My husband whispered into my ears, “Looking sharp Baby, even if you are wearing it for a 15-minute long ‘show and tell’.” Yeah, my Berhan has a good sense of humor.
That day, oh, my! My son was smiling from ear to ear. I went to his class just so his friend could see me and might change his mind about me. Looking at his friend, I bit my tongue too tight because I was very tempted to say to him, “Hey, dude, this is Mrs. Banko and I’m his mother. Don’t you think I look like a mother now?”
Well, on my way out my son gave me my favorite squishy hug and he said, “Mom, I love you!” and he hugged me one last time.
“Well”, I said to myself, “after all this is worthy it!”
But I couldn’t find peace in my heart for doing that. I kept on asking myself, “What am I teaching my son by doing this?” This question kept on ringing in my heart.
His friend might not have said anything about his Mama from that day on but what about the next friend who is going to say something about his Mama or Papa, or about him? Are we going to fix our lives every time someone says something about us so that everybody runs out of negative comments? Hmm! Is that even possible and feasible to do?
What if their negative comment is about those things we can’t fix, like our voice, nose or legs?
Well, I kept on thinking about those things in my mind over and over and over again. So, after I wore as if I was the CEO of a company for three consecutive days, I sat down with my son. I said, “I want to tell you a story.”
Oh, how my kids love to hear stories (of course when they were little.) His eyes lit up and sat next to me. “Okay, Mom, I’m ready to hear the story. Go ahead Mom, tell me.”
I said, “There was a merchant who used to sell different goods. He was very poor. He didn’t have a car or anything. The only thing he had was a donkey. He used to load those goods on the donkey and used to go to the city to sell those goods. One day, his neighbors said, “How rude this merchant is to load all those goods on this poor donkey!”
He heard what they said and decided to carry the load and let the donkey go with him. Some other people said, “What a greedy man! He is carrying the load while he lets his donkey walk by his side. He is trying to lengthen the donkey’s life while he is dying. What a fool merchant!”
He heard their comments and decided to load everything on the donkey and he even climbed up on the donkey. Then others said, “This is the cruelest man we’ve ever seen. Look how he is killing this poor donkey!”
Then the merchant got confused and went to an old and wise man to ask advice from. After the old man heard the story, he said, “My son, no amount of perfection can save you from other’s negative comments. There is always someone out there who is saying something about you and what you’re doing. You can’t have control over that and you can’t change that. You can’t change others but you can change yourself by changing the way you take others’ negative comments. My advice for you is this: Do everything you can to never hurt anyone with your words and actions; and don’t do anything against your conscious and God. Then give others freedom to say whatever they want.” Then the merchant went to his home feeling relieved.”
When I finished the story, I asked my son, “Do you like the story?”
He said, “I do. And Mom, I think I know why you are telling me this story.”
I smiled at him as if to say, “You got it!”
So, this is my message for today: The Bible says, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.” Acts 24:16
Sometimes we waste our precious time and energy to fix this and that so that others won’t say anything negative about us. But what is important is for us to strive to have a clear conscience first, before God and second, before man. And when we really think about it, we will never reach to that perfection where we can be someone that everybody claps for.
Jesus said this to the Pharisees who are always careful to do things in a certain way so that others give them honor and respect, “- – – What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.” Luke 16:14
I think sometimes it is the trap of the devil for us to care more about what others say so that we lose focus and forget what the Word of God says and what our conscious keeps on telling us.
This is one principle I tend to follow in my life and I want to share it with you: I always remember that no amount of perfection can save me from other’s negative comments! So, I always strive not to shot for perfection; but to be found right with the Word of God and the people of God who are mentoring and guiding me; that is what keeping our “conscience clear before God and man” means. ///