There is little that pains parents more than to see our children suffer. Sometimes suffering shows up in very tangible ways such as struggling with a serious childhood illness or losing a parent to death or divorce. Sometimes suffering appears in ways that seem small to us but feel enormous to our children. Such was the case with my son, Chase, one Valentine's Day.
One night after supper, Chase sat down in the living room to begin the task of signing and sealing the Valentine's Day cards he had picked out for his second-grade classmates. Seeing him surrounded by mountains of cards, envelopes, and a list of names that filled an entire page, I decided to enter into the spirit of the holiday and give him a hand. Chase gladly accepted my help.
"Here, you can seal the cards and mark the names off the list," he said shoving 15 or more cards and envelopes into my lap.
I set my coffee down on a coaster and began stuffing cards into their proper envelopes. About halfway through the stack I noticed a bold red and pink Valentine inscribed with the words, "I am thankful for you." What caught my eye was not what the card said, but the thick black lines that had been scrawled over the word "thankful."
I nudged Chase and said, "Honey, I don't think it would be very kind to give this card to one of your friends."
I was not prepared for the angry outburst that followed. Chase sat up straight and yelled, "Every day that girl calls me names and I have asked her to stop but she just laughs and curses at me!"1