Tonight I had an intense conversation with my beautiful 8-year-old son. The very same one who only three days ago heard from his classmates that he is "lovable deep down inside; helpful; thoughtful; generous; kind; smart" and more. After dissolving into tears for the fourth time today because he had lost at a game, D & I tried to strategize with him about how to handle losing better.
In the midst of this conversation, there came a moment when it seemed appropriate for me to bring up with E what Jesus said when someone asked him what the greatest commandment is: To love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself."
"The problem," said E, "is loving yourself."
After my son was born eight years ago, I stopped believing in original sin. I simply could no longer believe that he was born harboring some sin within him when I held him in my arms. There was no lack in that infant.
But about a year ago, I started to believe in original sin again. I started to believe in it the first time E said something like this to me, because somehow, in the midst of all our support, building-up, and gentle lovingness toward him, he still experiences himself as broken.
This is my cry and my prayer tonight: How in the world do I teach my son to love himself?