In a book that I have been recently studying by Allison Bottke, she made an observation that really struck my heart. She said, “A growing child is presented with one of two paths, survival or development.” She continued on by saying, “If a child is abused, neglected, abandoned, ignored or made to assume adult responsibilities, she must focus her attention and energy on survival.” But “if a child is not chronically frightened and confused, he is free to expand into the developmental tasks presented to him as he grows up.”
As I read these words I felt a shock of sobering thoughts run through my mind. I began to realize that this path of the survival mind-set can keep us from important development as the children of God.
The reason why Allison Bottke’s statement ran so deep in my heart is because I grew up in a broken and fairly dysfunctional home, as many other children and adults do in our world today. I spent much of my childhood growing up by taking on adult responsibilities and maturing before I was ready. The most sobering part of my circumstance is that it has been a continual challenge for me to truly understand what it means to be a child.
Allison Bottke also said this about developing children: “If most of [their] attention is on survival, important phases of development will be missed.” As a child’s attention is troubled by fear, putting first the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness is basically impossible. I believe this is why Jesus Christ said, “Do not worry about your life” and all the things that you want and need, “for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6:25 Matthew 6:25Therefore I say to you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
American King James Version×, 32).
Our Father has made it very clear that we are extremely valuable to Him and we must have have faith in that to be able to grow. By the sacrifice of His Son, our Father has provided us with the path of development—a path without abuse, neglect, or abandonment—in His great mercy and love. To let go of our fears and follow that path is the only way we can develop into His righteous children and enter into the family of God in His kingdom to come.
While I may never fully understand what it means to be a child in this physical life, God has helped me develop as His child by showing me that I have value in His eyes and He wants to lovingly provide all that I need. If you struggle with this as well, know that you are not alone and God is right there for you and by your side.