I haven't seen the movie The Help, but I've read the book, and that's almost as good, right? Even if I hadn't read the book, I've been on Pinterest, so I'm familiar with the movie's most famous quote, the one where the black "help" tells the little white girl, "You is kind. You is smart. You is important."
I spend a lot of time on the Internet, especially since I'm nursing still 6-8 times a day, and I think there are a lot of people floating around in angry cyberspace who need to be affirmed in this way. Not in an anti-micro-aggression, self-esteem-building sort of way, because Lord knows we have enough of those and all that's done is create a bunch of needy monsters. They (we) need a much deeper affirmation, the sort that confers both identity and belonging.
Our current culture has been fairly proficient at casting off superficial affirmations that conferred superficial identity and superficial belonging. But rather than true healing that needed to take place when those bandaids were ripped off, we (collective America) are much more like the demon-possessed man that Jesus described Matthew 12. We swept the house clean but didn't fill it with anything worthwhile, so that demon returned with seven even worse ones, and now our current state is even worse than it was before. "So also it will be with this evil generation" (Matt 12:45) - I actually just searched for "seven worse demons" for a Bible reference and came up with the whole "generation" quote, and, wow.
Tonight, my two year old - out of the blue - told my four year old that he was ugly. Just to be sure I heard her correctly, I exclaimed, "What?!?" And she repeated, "Titus, you ugly." And I grabbed her arm and marched her down to her room for a little discussion.
I wasn't actually sure she knew that what she'd done was wrong, so we sat criss-cross-applesauce, nose-to-nose and knee-to-knee on her floor and I asked, "Did you know that what you were saying was mean?"
"Why did you say it?"
"I don't know."
"Did you think it would be funny?"
"I don't know."
"Did you think it would make you feel good about yourself somehow?"
"I don't know."
"Okay, you're only two, so I don't expect you to know, but here's my guess. I think you thought it would be funny to say something mean to your brother. Even if he was mostly oblivious, it's really dangerous to your heart to get in a habit of saying mean things either to be funny or to somehow otherwise feel good about yourself. I know that it's human nature to make yourself feel better by somehow putting down people around you, but it makes your heart ugly, and that's a lot worse than your face being ugly. If you need to feel better about yourself in the future, you come to mommy or daddy, and we will give you a hug and tell you how much we love you, and how much Jesus loves you."
Wouldn't it be wonderful if my little girl got this figured out while she was still a little girl and the worst thing she did was tell an oblivious brother that he was ugly? If, by the time she was, say, a teenager, she had an identity that was so rooted in Christ's love and what his death on the cross accomplished for her both now and for eternity, that she could skip junior high insecurities, high school peer pressure, and college dating games, mommy wars and identity politics as an adult?
You is loved. But it's not because you is kind or you is smart or you is important. There's always going to be somebody kinder, smarter, or more important, so don't base your identity on those things. You is loved for one reason and one reason only: you is Christ's. He died to make you his, and ain't nobody can snatch you out of his hand. Be kind, because you is loved.