Lately my five-year-old has been experimenting with the word “stupid.” This morning he called the cat stupid, his oatmeal stupid, and was dancing on the edge of calling his little brother stupid before I swooped in and told him to stop using that word.
In our home we’ve talked to our kids about using “sword words” – that the Bible says words can pierce like a sword, and we have a ground rule in our home that we don’t use words to cut down and hurt others.
Later my seven-year-old told me, conversationally, that he knew he wasn’t supposed to call other people stupid, so he would just call himself stupid, instead. I think he was just trying to find a way around our house rules, so he was surprised by how strongly I responded to him. I was a little surprised, too.
“Don’t you ever call yourself stupid,” I said, a little sharply. “It’s not okay to call someone else stupid, and it’s not okay to call yourself stupid, either.”
David looked a little startled. “Okay, but…why?”
“Because God made you,” I said. I felt like I was hearing the words myself as I was saying them. “God made you, and he didn’t create anything that isn’t special. So don’t call God’s creations stupid, even yourself, but treat His creations with honor and respect.”
My therapist has talked before about how I can be re-parenting myself as I parent my kids, sort of saying things to my own kids and to kid-me all at the same time. This was one of those times. I wish I could erase all my years of negative self-talk, of thinking I’m worthless because of my body. I hear myself saying things like this to my kids now, and I think, Holy crap, that’s right. God *doesn’t* make worthless things.
I think sometimes I substitute self-deprecation for humility, but that’s a mistake. True, God-honoring humility comes in recognizing our unique, innate worth — not because of anything we do, but because of how we’re created. If one of greatest commandments is, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” doesn’t it follow that we’re supposed to love — and honor — ourselves?