I’m not sure how it happened, but for months, Dietrich has been obsessed with heaven and hell, more the latter. The big areas of focus are that bad people go to hell and that the devil wants us to do bad things. Every time he makes a bad choice, he says (in not quite these words), “The devil made me do it.” When phrasing it like this, I almost laugh, but for the seriousness of the problem and my refusal to let teachable moments pass.
I tell him that I love him. Even when he storms off screaming that he hates me. When he returns, I show him love in a big, tight bear hug.
When he makes demands and expects rewards for bad behavior, I tell him I love him too much to allow him to get away with such entitled behavior.
I tell him bad choices do not make him a bad kid.
I remind him that God is the biggest and the devil will not win.
I pray with him and for him and encourage him to keep praying through the anger or fear. We tell the devil to go away.
I encourage him to make good choices, while attempting to model good choices as well.
Admittedly, the lesson is repeated several times a day. My best guess is that some time back they talked about a much simpler lesson in Bible class (like the Rich Man and Lazarus). However, my very intelligent Dietrich is also prone to fixate on one part of a story (even on television or movies) and obsess. The repetition of his outbursts is frustrating and often leaves me feeling helpless. So far, the obsessions haven’t subsided (though I think he did well for his grandparents last week). Until they do – or the next one comes along – I will keep repeating the lessons, patiently encouraging while striving to teach grace and mercy.