By: James Green
We play “tickle monster” at my house. I don’t think we invented the game; it’s basically hide and seek, only after you find the “hider” you tickle them into submission. Even as my kids get older, it’s still our favorite game-night activity.
I am always the tickle monster and all my kids are ticklish, so it’s exceptionally easy to bring them to the brink of bladder control issues when the “monster” catches them, but my oldest son, Gavin, is in a league of his own when it comes to being susceptible. He laughs the loudest and the longest, so naturally, he is my favorite target. Sadly, he’s also by far the quickest of my children and I have bad knees – so I don’t catch him near as much as I’d like.
To make up for my inability to win at the game fair and square, I often take advantage of other good opportunities to tickle him; when he’s reading, eating, watching TV, sleeping and other times when he lets his guard down.
The other night I got ready to give him a hug before he went to bed and as I approached he hit the ground and rolled into the fetal position (I think he’s on to me). However, when I told him that I wasn’t going to tickle him, he popped right up and gave me a hug. I thought it was a pretty sudden change, so I asked him about it, and he said, “Well, you have promised you would never lie to me, so when you said you weren’t going to tickle me – I knew it was safe for the hug.”
The reality is that I have made that promise, to him and to all my kids. I want them to know that they can trust the things I tell them, about Jesus, about life, about everything. Proverbs 12:22 says that lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. Matthew 5:37 and James 5:12 indicate that we should let our “yes” be “yes”; we should be trustworthy people.
The motivation comes from wanting them to believe the things they have heard me tell them about the God who created them and loves them and not wonder or worry that I made it up. However, my truth promise has a downside – having to suffer the consequences of relating my sins of the past and foolish things I have done.
Part of my promise has included explaining that there are things I couldn’t tell them about while they were young, because they wouldn’t be able to fully grasp the complexities. Still, I have sworn that when they are old enough, I will tell them the truth about anything they ask. One day this past summer, Gavin asked. We were driving across town together and we ended up having some incredible, spontaneous quality time. He asked questions about my past relationships and I came clean about selfish and poor decisions I had made in my past. I was embarrassed but transparent, and when we got home, before we got out of the car he thanked me for being so honest, and he told me he loves me.
I get older everyday. It won’t be long before I won’t be able to catch any of the kids in the tickle monster game (truth be known, I think they are already starting to take it easy on me and let themselves get caught!). But because God is both loving and just, because there are blessings for obedience and consequences for disobedience I get to experience the joy of making a promise and keeping it, with my children. I get to bear the weight of the consequences for my disobedience, yet still bathe in the comfort of 1 John 1:9, which promises that if we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive them and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
God keeps His promises to us. I will keep mine with my kids. That’s a promise. Even if it does cut into the amount of tickling I get to do.