The Ache of a 10-Year-Old Heart (Redeeming Ungratefulness)


I tucked him in bed on his tenth birthday that December night — my firstborn, my son. He’s so pensive, sometimes too much.  But he can’t help it.  He’s me, bless his heart. I know what it’s like to be thirsty for depth one moment and then completely drowning in self-reflection the next.

“Are you okay, honey?”

“Yeah, mom.  I wish…  Well, I’m glad Christmas is just two weeks away.”


“It’s just that there’s so many presents I want. And yet I don’t want anything.”

My heart broke and rejoiced that very moment in the tension of real life.

For just an instant I cringed over his disappointment. Or his ungratefulness. Or both.

But, no. There was no room that night for mommy-regret or judgment or scolding. He’s getting it, I thought. He’s getting this Gospel. I understood his confusion, his mystery, for I’m living it myself. And I think you are, too.

We pondered the Fall when sin entered the world. We grieved how it continues to unravel all that’s good, even on days of celebration. We risked, admitting how sin teases and taunts us to yearn for more as we desperately try to fill the void that feels eternal.

And we recognized the Holy Spirit within him, battling the lie, protecting the little heart made for only his Redeemer.  Oh, God, send discernment.  We get so confused.

I echoed his deep complexity expressed in child words.  “Yes, sweetie.  We want, but we’re already dreading the disappointment that comes afterward.  I get it.” 

And I’m too honest, for I tell him he’ll wrestle with this his whole life in this fractured world.  Until he can be with his Rescuer.  Until he leaves the brokenness behind and his aching, striving heart is made new.  Forever.

I’ve known the ache on Christmas night.  I’ve felt the loneliness after celebration and the emptiness after success. It’s often so anti-climactic, no?

We were made for more.  We’re complex and thoughtful and beautifully deep.  Maybe ingratitude isn’t always awful, for it uncovers the truth that there’s more. It points us to the One who forever satisfies and woos us back to His embrace. It frames our perspective as we travel through the shadow toward eternity… toward forever laughter and celebration and fullness as we worship like crazy.

Happy Birthday, honey. The pain helps open our eyes. You’re understanding the deepest, greatest Gift ever.

4 thoughts on “The Ache of a 10-Year-Old Heart (Redeeming Ungratefulness)

  1. You’ve put into words this feeling that I’ve had so many times to count: “Maybe ingratitude isn’t always awful, for it uncovers the truth that there’s more.” . Thanks for encouraging us to look past what our kids say to the longings of Him in their hearts. Beautiful, friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a wonderful piece on which to chew.
    This great, perpetual dichotomy of thought and feeling feeds on our parched hearts, on this thirst to be filled by things. When we finally discover it is a Who, not a what, that fills us, our hearts and minds begin to drink from His cool, clear living water.



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