My sweet little guy was tasked with a preschool homework project: Decorate a paper tree. The directions listed all sorts of ideas to spur artistic creativity for parent and child. I dug through my stash of craft supplies and the little Mr. and I decided on some glitter, foam craft stickers and cut outs from Christmas wrapping paper. He colored his little heart out, cut and pasted and glittered the heck out of his little tree and when done, he held up his masterpiece and declared, "It's Finished!" Then we set it on the counter to dry for a Long. Long. Long. Time. (He used a LOT of glue).
This morning he ran in the kitchen and grabbed his tree and was so excited to show Miss 'M' at school. When we arrived at school, we walked the halls to see that some of the trees had already been hung. The little Mr. looked down at his Charlie Brown tree and looked back up at the Martha Stewart trees glistening in a row. Some were strung with tulle and real miniature ornaments, colored perfectly with stickers and gadgets applied expertly. He looked down at his tree and with a sad face said, "My tree doesn't have real ornaments, I only have stickers." I felt so bad. Maybe I should have pulled out more items for him. Maybe I should have arranged things. But then it wouldn't have been his. It would have been mine. I figured The little Mr. was probably too young to hear a pep-talk lecture on Picasso and how criticized he was for his break from traditional art and how choosing to step outside of the box changed art as we know it. Too deep a discussion for a preschool project.
So, I opted for a mommy hug and kiss, praised him for a job well-done, and ushered him into his class. Miss 'M' welcomed him to class and he raised up his tree to her and started to walk away when she exclaimed, "What a great tree! I love it!" She quickly began pointing out all the things she loved about his tree and he began talking excitedly about the glitter and the stickers. He was once again proud of his project for all of the reasons that initially brought him joy.
Today my sweet mr. unknowingly learned about satisfaction. That judging himself against others will not bring joy. He learned that he is unique. That God created him to be Ethan and that means that like each of us, everything about him is special. In his mind, he stood out today...and he didn't know if he liked that or not. But, with encouragement, he realized that standing out and being who God created him to be is good. This won't be the only lesson. It might get harder as he gets older. More comparisons. More choices. Differences...
The apostle Paul said in Galations 1:10
"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people I would not be a servant of Christ."
If only my little mr. realized today that he brought a great lesson to his mommy (Hello? People pleaser?). Even as adults we struggle with wanting to be like someone else instead of who God created us to be. It's hard to see ourselves as our Heavenly Father sees us. HE sees the potential and the things about us that will bring glory and joy to HIM. We struggle through worrying about pleasing those around us rather than serving HIM.
When I picked up my little mr. from school, his tree hung proudly in the hall amongst the Martha Stewarts. His stood out. His was different. And when he walked past he shouted out proudly, "Look mommy! That one's mine!" And that's what our Heavenly Father says as HE rejoices over us, "Look, that one's MINE..."