How many of us fail to grasp our own self-worth? Too often we are shaped less by who we really are and more by who others perceive us to be. We allowe their criticisms and comments begin to define us from an early age. The German poet Goethe once wrote, "If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he out to be and could be." This is sage advice that I try to remember in my parenting and in my interaction with others. Too many of us hear negatvie things about who we are when we are young and that shapes and defines so much of how we perceive ourselves. This is especially true of children who have grown up in abusive homes or situations.
Oftentimes, it can be hard for Cava to accept love and that he is of value and great worth. His identity and self-image has been shaped by hearing only negative things about himself. Those cold, harsh words reverberate in his soul and those voices echo in his mind whenever he struggles, so much so that he becomes plagued with self-doubt. As his Papa, I try to help him see who he really is: an amazing kid who has so much to offer the world. Knowing that he has a hard time understanding the abstract, I gave him this image.
Once upon a time, there was a treasure chest in the middle of a village. People passed by this chest, but thought nothing of it; after all, it looked neglected and forgotten. Because the chest was unprotected from the sun and the rain, the chest did not appear special or of any worth. Weeds grew up around this chest. Then, one day, a family came to the village. They noticed the chest and inquired about it from the people of the village. Nobody who they asked gave the chest much thought. "Can we have it?" the family asked. "What do we care," the villagers replied, "it's just an old beaten chest." So the family picked up the chest and took it back to where they lived. Once inside their own home, they slowly began to pry the chest open and when they did, they found it filled with treasure. Gold and jewels and riches like they had never seen before. They could not believe that the villagers never thought to open it themselves. Oh how their lives were changed by that treasure they found.
Cava loved the story and he talked about what he'd do if he found treasure (buy books, Legos, a bird). Then I revealed to him, "You are like that treasure chest. Nobody had noticed what was inside of you before. They didn't take the time to even see. But we adopted you and we began to see what an amazing, awesome and special kid you were. We saw that you had so many wonderful things inside of you: your intelligence and your kind heart. Each day that we spend with you, we see something new and valuable about you. There is such great worth and even you did not see it before. I cannot wait until you begin to grasp what a treasure you are. In all the history of the world there has never been and never will be another you. God created you uniquely you. He made you special and others now see that as well - at your school, at church." He smiled his big, warm Cava smile. That, too, is treasure.
How many of us need someone to tell us that we, too, are great treasures? That we have value and worth? How different would the world be if more people heard that? To know that they mattered. That they were seen and not forgotten?
Just think of all the unopened treasure chests there are in this world. Maybe we should each take the time to notice.