Elementary school is tough for children. Well, all of school can be hard for children but I remember a couple of times I struggled to send a child to school because something outside of her control occurred. First, she contracted chicken pox. It wasn’t the pox that made me want to keep her home. After all, that was a given. It was after the active pox were gone and scabs remained. She had so many on her face and I needed to send her back before they were all healed. As I stood with her that morning, ensuring she was okay in her classroom, I saw the looks from the other kids. I imagined what they might say about her face being marked up and I wanted to gather her in my arms and take her home. I wanted her to know I thought she was beautiful.
Later that same year, she got lice. I have no idea where because no one else at school had them. But, again, I felt like a pariah. I imagined hushed whispers behind my back, students told to stay away from my daughter, mothers wondering how I could let that happen. Now, I know that lice has nothing to do with cleanliness. Likely she contracted them while shopping, trying on winter hats. But incidents like this can feel so bad.
As the kids aged, the issues became more serious. We tried to stay on top of what happened when the kids had friends over, but you can’t know everything. So when things happened on our watch, we heard the whispers, saw the stares, felt the judgment.
Difficult situations arise all the time, providing plenty of fuel for the gossip fire. This morning in my Bible reading, I pondered Psalm 38. The psalm is written by David and he recounts a difficult period of time in his life. He entreats God to remember him in his difficulty, he asks for protection. I paused at verse 13. You see, just the other day, I told a friend I was praying deafness over her. Deaf to what people might say about her situation. To be honest, I was blessed and surprised when I read these verses.
13But I am deaf to all their threats. I am silent before them as one who cannot speak. 14I choose to hear nothing, and I make no reply. 15For I am waiting for you, O Lord. You must answer for me, O Lord my God. 16I prayed, “Don’t let my enemies gloat over me or rejoice at my downfall.”Psalm 38:13-16
This is an awesome strategy! When I am in a troubling situation, I want to defend myself, to let onlookers know that I am worthy of love. I want empathy, not judgment.
When my daughter had lice, I wanted people to know she was still a good friend. When she came to school with chicken pox scars, I wanted to tell the kids she was the same kind, fun-loving person as always. When my kids made questionable decisions in high school, I wanted to shout from the roof tops that I loved them no matter what.
From this passage, I learn it is better to stay silent and avoid hearing what others might be saying. Choose to say nothing, make no reply, no defense.
Let the Lord defend you, let him answer the accusations.
Take refuge in His unchanging, crazy, unconditional love for you! And leave the rest to him.