The Submissional Life // Matt Tebbe

living in submission, leading from below, loving as mission

The Truest Thing I Know About Me

Each week I give Deacon the option of how he’d like to spend time with me on my day off: hitting golf balls at the range, chopping wood, or going for a hike. Last Friday, seemingly without weighing every option, he erupts with, “Go for a hike!” And so, last Friday, we set off to “the woods.” It really is worship for us to hike together – I verbally praise God for creation, acknowledge the beauty and harmony of everything we see. Deacon listens, we walk, we worship. Sometimes I also intentionally try and start meaningful conversations. Often we have them, sometimes we don’t. This week my attempt – and his response – went like this:

As we hiked I turned to Deacon and asked: “Son, what is the truest thing you know about you?” Instantly I judged my question in my mind: Don’t you know he’s five years old!!??! He can’t answer a question like that! Nice work, dad.

But Deacon’s response surprised me: He stopped dead in his tracks and said, “Hmm let me think about that for a minute…” And put his finger up to his cheek. We stood there looking at each other for a few moments as he puzzled my thoroughly inappropriate question for a five year old preschooler. I was about to rephrase the question when he grinned at me and said with his head cocked to the side, Lots of people love me.” 

Stunned, I blurted out: “Like who?”

Instantly he responded: “You, mommy, Cece, God, Nick (his cousin).” 

Tears (even as I type this) wetted my vision. I looked him dead in the eye and said: “That’s right, buddy. You are deeply loved. Deeply.”


How easy it is as a parent to forget this precious insight: before sin entered our world, before our child accomplishes or achieves anything, he/she is loved with an eternal, matchless, glorious love. There will be time for Deacon to learn that he is sinful (already he is in touch with his inability to know good or do the good he knows), already he looks to find self-worth in how many goals he scores in soccer, or how many toys he has that others don’t. Too often as a parent I’m tempted to function purely in this world between his sinfulness and self-esteem. But underneath his brokenness and around his esteem of self is the Love of God that took on flesh in Jesus Christ and continues to have flesh in his friends and family. In our world of only knowing self-esteem to deal with brokenness and shame, I’m learning- with and through my son- the importance of love holding one despite failures and shame.


I sensed the Spirit saying to me, “Yes. This is good he knows this. Nurture and shepherd and protect this deep truth in him. This understanding is where his life will flourish and be blessed.” 

But Father – I can’t…I don’t…I think it’s truer for him than it is for me.

Come along, son. I’ll show you…

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