All the other reading students scurried out of the room as the bell rang. Michael was usually the first one out the door, but not this day.
Michael was a ten-year-old boy with a tough guy image who wrestled with more than just reading. Some of that struggle related to the difficulty with reading, but much more lay hidden beneath the image he portrayed. He had fought receiving help at every turn since the beginning of the school year. I knew the fight well. I was the tutor for elementary children with reading problems; problems that he tried to ignore or shove away.
Then one day in February in the midst of a tutoring session, he slipped beneath the table where he was sitting to retrieve a pencil. From that vantage point, I heard his voice ask me the question, “Am I important?” After all this time, in one unexpected instant he dropped his guard and asked the pivotal question hidden beneath the tough guy exterior.
I was stunned by his candid honesty, filled with admiration by his courage. I tried to assure him that he was indeed important as he slowly emerged from under the table. I do not recall what words I used and I cannot be sure of what he believed about my reassurances, but I know from that day forward Michael did not fight coming to the tutoring sessions and he slowly began to make progress.
What lingered in my mind later that day was his bravery, but what also showed up on what seemed to be an ordinary day was the truth. Each of us keeps that question hidden within us at some point in our lives. No matter what our home was like, our teachers were like, or our friends were like, we have all wanted and needed to know we were valuable and important to someone. We have looked for a myriad of ways to try to prove to ourselves that we matter very much to someone.
Most of us, however, have never risked asking it or we asked the wrong person.
Only the One who created us can answer that question in a way that resolves it once and for all. Insecurity and rejection are staunch enemies of the truth of God’s love for us. Even when we have come to know Him, there can be shadows of those feelings lurking beneath the surface that get deeply rooted within us too often by judgments, slights, and loneliness.
The beliefs that are formed from these things silence our voice from asking the One who can best answer it, from the One who knows us best and loves us perfectly.
He wants us to ask Him, to resolve the nagging uncertainty, to settle the question if we will only risk asking and listen to His response.