I rested on the edge of his bed and listened to the confusion in his voice. When his narrowed eyes dared move towards mine, they darted away with stealthy speed.
“I’m tired of being good. I don’t want to be sweet anymore.” Silence fell over the room. I thought back to the previous weeks, the previous hours. This up and down swing of emotions, this moving to and from the ones he loves most, the acting out in obvious cries for attention, the pushing away when others drew near.
“I don’t feel like myself anymore. I don’t even know who I am.” He couldn’t articulate all he felt. How could he? He didn’t even understand it.
The words my son began to share nudged a slumbering fear in my soul. The fear began to stretch its arms and mumble its good mornings. Give up. It’s over. His problems are bigger than you can possibly handle or imagine. His faith in God isn’t strong enough for the battles waged against him. Just wait til he’s older. You have no idea.
The unknowns, the uncertainties, the what-ifs – these are the food fear enjoys most. Right here is where fear tempts me to feast.
I inhaled sharply. These voices of fear needed to stop, but they began to speak louder with each passing second, so loud I could only hear my son’s words in the distance. “I don’t know who I am.”
What I heard was a silent cry. “Do you really love me?” He needed to know if the words we tell him are true. If I act mean, do you love me? If I disobey, do you love me? If I act irrational, do you love me? If I don’t meet the expectations placed on me, do you still love me? If I don’t even know who I am, do you still love me?
Is unconditional love true or false? This is what our children are desperate to know.
If there is one thing I know, it’s that our children must know they are loved. Unconditionally. There are no bargains on love in this home. You can’t earn more love by being the “good” kid. You can’t force my love to stop when you are too much to handle.
Love is a choice in this home. To my son, I say, “Love is a choice. I choose to love you because of the place in my life the Lord placed you. He chose to love you, and His love is so great, He gave His one and only Son for you.”
When our children find themselves out of control on the slopes of life, it’s the knowledge that no matter what happens, what bumps they hit, what trees they crash, what damage they cause, they are loved. Fully loved.
I looked into his eyes. “You know who you are. You are a child of God. Because of that you know exactly who you are even when you don’t feel you do. You are chosen, redeemed, righteous, known, loved, holy. You are God’s workmanship, you are complete in Christ, you are forgiven, you are a saint.”
“Rarely will you feel like you are the person God says you are.”
God tells us who we are. We don’t need the world to affirm us, we don’t need the world to tell us that we don’t measure up. Because we don’t, we couldn’t, but He could, and He did, and therefore, we live. Praise God.
When our kids hit the hard bumps, what they really want to know is “Am I really loved?” To know they are always loved, they must know who they really are because we rarely act like who God says we are. Our kids must be reminded of truth. Constantly.
Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
The 5 most important things we can do to help our children when life is rough and confusing:
- Thank God. Thank God for the gift of our child. Thank God for wisdom, discernment, and insight. Thank God when He is gracious to reveal those inner struggles of the heart. Thank Him for everything. Always.
- Pray. Pray always, pray about everything. Pray they will always know they are known and loved. Pray in the deepest corners of their soul, they know they are unconditionally loved, even in the ugliest of moments. Pray against the attacks of the enemy who seeks to destroy. Pray over them while they sleep. Pray in their room when they are away. Pray as you fold their clothes and clean their toothpaste mess from the sink. Pray without ceasing. No one is praying for your child like you can. God has placed you in the position of strongest advocate for their protection and well-being.
- Fight. Don’t lose hope. Don’t fear. Fight fear with trust. Trust God that He uses all things for good for those who love Him. Trust Him that the hard, ugly moments will be used for His glory. Trust Him to love your children more than you do. Fight fear with faith.
- Rest. When you pray and when you fight fear with faith, sit back and rest in His loving embrace. Rest in Him. Rest in knowing He will never leave you, He will never forsake you. Rest in Him as you pray and fight fear with faith.
- Love. Love and never stop loving. Tell your kids all the time. Don’t assume they know it because you feel it. Tell them that love is more than a feeling, it’s a choice. Tell them there is not a single thing on this earth they could ever do to make you stop loving them. Tell them that every single night when you kiss their cheeks. Hold their faces in your gentle hands, look with fierce intensity deep into their eyes and tell them, “I love you. I will never stop. You can’t make me.” When they are older and have moved on, don’t stop telling them you love them.
Our children will face struggles that make us shudder and want to run away and hide. While we will feel life can be out of control for our kids, there is one thing we can control. We can choose to love them. We can love them right through any wave that tries to take them under. When they come up for air, we are right there. Loving them. Reminding them of truth. The waves that roll them will lie, but when they resurface, we are a constant source of truth and love. Pointing them back always to the One who loves them and knows them in ways we will never understand.
Today, thank, pray, fight, rest, and love.
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