"What's the point? Why should I even try?"
Gray was our first to have some academic challenges. The first three, who predated him by 7, 10, and 13 years, respectively, never required much from us in that area. We were not in any sort of routine that required keeping up with homework, checking it before it was turned in, or helping study before tests. The first bunch was pretty much self directed.
Gray had trouble reading and a couple of years ago was diagnosed as dyslexic. Directed reading from both us and him became part of our daily regime. Checking every homework assignment and working with him to prepare for every test and quiz, part of the weekly rhythm.
He has always been a very strong and kind-hearted boy. Respectful of us and loving of others. Someone who was not afraid to offer his strength to protect others, including his sisters. He had been called "warrior" from his earliest recollection and seemed to take that very seriously. There are several incredible stories, despite his tender age of eleven, that reflect the fierceness of his heart.
We have cautiously monitored him as he matriculated through the grade school years. Would the culture of the local school rob him of his good heart? Would the challenges he faced in the classroom crush his spirit? He recently started to show some fraying around the edges. Not quite so happy-go-lucky as we once knew. Dyslexia class told him he was different at an age when everyone was becoming well aware.
A loving gift from a friend helped provide dyslexia reengineering for him last summer. We mainstreamed him this year and a normal class load showed a mix of A, B, & C performance. Remarkable really, for a highly dyslexic under full blown curriculum. His attitude was good, he was enjoying some success for the first time in years, and all seem to be trending the right way...until a few weeks ago.
His attitude changed. There were hints of insolence, emotional outburst, and general un-Gray like behavior. Generally easy to rally, he was almost inconsolable. Teachers e-mailed and called. His behavior was different there as well. He essentially filled out a standardized test without bothering to read.. He seemed to be a different child.
When we pressed him (and it took quite a bit of pressing), he finally broke down. Through tears, he said:
"What's the point?"
"Why should I even try?"
It took some real prodding, but the story that eventually emerged is that his teacher had sat him down in front of a computer and showed him his standardized performance against his peers over the last few years. His percentile in each year was pretty low. What he saw was..
What our enemy whispered is...
"You are a failure."
"It is your lot in life."
"You will fail this year and the next."
"What's the point?"
"Why should you even try?"
We poured over and into him. We refuted the lie. We showed him the proof of the six months prior to the last few weeks. We told him he had an enemy that hated him as the beloved of God. That he was trying to get him to make an agreement that wasn't true. We had him state the truth (break the agreement), prayed protection around his heart, and loved him to sleep that night.
He left the house the next morning with a new heart and revived spirit. He came in from school beaming with pride.
He said that had a quiz in math (that we didn't review for). OH NO!
He said he turned his in first. OH CRAP!
He said the teacher checked it while the others finished, told him he had answered every problem correctly, and announced, in front of the whole class that Gray was a "math scholar".
I was overwhelmed by how quickly and specifically our Father came for him. I was thankful that a father so ill-prepared for much of his experience as a dad recognized the ploys of our enemy and actually had some arrows in his quiver to pull back and let fly.
A wave of emotion washed over me. I felt so humbled, honored, loved and protected by our Father. It was one of those rare situations where I actually felt prepared to do the real work of a dad. But there was more...it was the revelation that every day, broken, discouraged, and wounded boys are stumbling into their houses. Most being met by broken, discouraged, and wounded fathers who are barely making it through the day themselves. Half-hearted men with no ability to interpret the events of their lives or the ploys of their enemy, much less fight for the hearts of their beloved.
Father, embolden, encourage, and strengthen me. Let me find no rest outside of the work you have created me to do. Help show me how to train up an army of men who know their own validation and can fight for the hearts of the generations that follow. Thank you for coming for me and equipping me to fight for the heart of mine.