One day in the midst of a talk that was going no where, I was praying as I talked and God placed the thought in my mind that Johnny is telling himself lies about my love for him.
"When you and I talk together I wonder if you tell yourself things like, mom is mean, she doesn't love me and she just wants to give me consequences." Johnny looked at me with a dumbfounded, how did you know expression. "Do yo think things like that?" I prompted. Johnny slowly nodded his head and said, "Sometimes."
"Why do you think you do that?" I asked. he shrugged his shoulders and looked at his feet without saying a word.
"I think you tell yourself things you know aren't true because that makes it easier to stay mad at mom. I think there are times when you would really like to love me but then you worry how your birth mom would feel so you tell yourself some more lies. Is that right?"
Johnny looked sullen, "You don't know what it is like!" he burst out.
"You are right I don't, but I think that is how I would feel if I couldn't live with my birth mom," I answered.
Johnny refused to talk so Dean and I switched places, I helped Lia get ready for bed and he tried to help Johnny. Sometimes talking to the other parent is all it takes to get our children's minds unstuck.
When I returned to the family room Dean was explaining that telling lies about mom is like a splinter. "When you get a splinter in your hand it hurts when I have to get it out, right?" Johnny agreed so Dean continued, "If we leave the splinter in, does it hurt more or less the next day?"
"It hurts lot's more!" Johnny answered. We have berry bushes in the woods and the children frequently get the briers in their hands and feet. They quickly become infected and are very painful.
"Right!" Dean agreed, "The lies you tell yourself are like splinters in your heart. When you talk about your big feelings it is like pulling that splinter out, it hurts but if you don't talk about them they hurt more and more."
"When we keep our big feelings to ourselves and believe things we know aren't true, it is like the splinter has caused your heart to become infected with bitterness, that infected stuff has to come out. Right now it is coming out in anger, when your heart is full of infected bitterness it affects all your thoughts and actions."
Johnny agreed that Dean was right but he wasn't ready to work at removing the splinter. We gave him a good night hug and kiss and sent him to bed feeling rather defeated.
Five minutes later Johnny came out to the family room and said, "I have a splinter in my foot, can you get it out?" After Johnny was back in bed Dean and I had to smile, God has ways of driving home the lessons we are trying to instill in the children he has blessed us with.