When Your Three-Year Old Calls You a Servant (and Other Issues of Identity)

When Your Three-Year Old Calls You a Servant (and Other Issues of Identity) August 28, 2018

“Mama, you’re a servant,” my little boy said yesterday afternoon, as we held hands and walked through the foyer of the old church building.

“Oh buddy,” I replied, “thank you!” I figured he’d learned the lesson in Godly Play that morning and really, really taken the lesson to heart. Who’s a servant in your life? I imagined the teacher asking the four year olds who sat in a circle on the floor. Who’s just like that super great guy, Jesus, in your life? And taking the lesson to heart, my son had picked me.

What can I say? I raised ’em right.

“And mama,” he added, unsolicited, this time. “You’re a servant because you make me food!”

“Uh…”

“And you don’t work, so you’re my servant!”

“Yeah buddy, I work,” I replied as we crossed the street to our car. “I promise.”

In that moment, I didn’t know how to respond. On the one hand, I felt momentarily elated that my little boy had noticed and understood and called me a servant.

Why, thank you for noticing. And you’re welcome.

But my elation deflated just as soon as it began when I realized that our definitions of servant didn’t exactly line up, when I found myself wanting to prove that I have an actual job – that I work, that I produce, that I am worth something.

See? It’s that right there: so often – too often – I forget that my identity has nothing to do with the articles I write or the blog posts I produce or the sermons I sit sit with and create. Sure, all of those things are great, but all of those things mean nothing when it comes to who I am as a child of God.

My excellent use of the thesaurus? Doesn’t matter.

My daily word count? Doesn’t matter.

The number of followers I have (or don’t have), the pitches that get accepted (or rejected), the places that invite me back to speak (or don’t ever email again)? Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter.

The likes, the shares, the affirmations, the criticisms, the good, the bad, the ugly, the hate mail and the fan mail? Doesn’t matter.

I could go on, but all that matters is that I am me. And this me is loved for exactly who she is and what she has now. That’s it. No exceptions. What you see is what you get – and what you get is exactly what God thinks is just downright brilliant.

And it’s not any different for you.

You are God’s child. You are brilliant and beautiful and handsome, too, but from one stranger on the Internet to another, most of all, you are loved. And sometimes learning to color outside the lines means giving yourself that true and gentle reminder that you are not what you produce, just as you are not what others (even precious, perfect, squirrelly three-year old boys) think of you. The bottom line is that you are loved for exactly who you are, exactly as you are, and that’s all that counts.

So, even if someone calls you a servant – gush, gush, gush – and then tacks on that you are his servant because you make one mind-blowing pot of macaroni and cheese, and continue to endlessly serve him by playing Legos and Hot Wheels and “You be the mama, I’ll be the baby!” snuggle games on the living room floor because preschool doesn’t start for another week, you’re still the bee’s knees.

Amen.

End of story.

And, might I add, in this with you.

So, what say you? You are loved, you are loved, you are loved, they all say …now believe it. 

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