1) Go down to where I have the link to the sermon and listen to it if you missed it.
2) Watch the video of my sweet kiddos saying some of their memory verses.
Now, let the processing commence...
Something I'm continually wrestling with as a parent is how to help my kids build their "identity". I have already mentioned on this blog that when we are out and about they hear comments from complete strangers about their appearance (he/she is so cute/beautiful; what gorgeous eyes; are they the same size? etc). I often feel defensive for my oldest son when people comment about his younger brother being bigger in stature; I guard my younger son from comments about his, um, healthy appetite; I already am conscious of comments I make to my daughter about how she looks in a certain outfit.
It’s not that I mind these comments, or even plan to try to shield my children from them. The comments are always well intentioned and, of course, it makes me proud when people notice my children. But still, it always stirs up something in me. Probably because each of them is so much more to me than what people can see. I don’t want the way they see themselves to be driven by their appearance or even their intelligence.
I have absolutely LOVED the series that RA is doing right now on being CALLED. But because of this struggle for my children, this week’s lesson really struck a chord. Saturday afternoon I had two situations where I found myself wanting to redirect well meaning conversations about my children (in front of my children). The situations brought me back to this same struggle. I felt the need to snap at others with something witty about how amazing my children were…on the inside.
Then Saturday night we went to service and the lesson was about this very thing. I don’t know if it spoke to others, but it was for me…loud and clear. In summary, I believe the reason I get defensive about these comments, or feel the need to respond in a way that redirects the attention, is I because I’m so concerned with how my children will develop their identity.
How will they know how special they are?
The world says their unique identity will be based on performance or appearance. In order to be special, they will have to be better than others at something or be uniquely beautiful. In reality, the odds are good that they will be neither.
That sounds harsh. But it is true. And it doesn’t matter.
My three children are uniquely special because that is how they were designed. From the beginning. Before they were even known by name by their family. They were created and designed in a wonderful way. On purpose. No accidents.
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Not only were they created ON PURPOSE, they were created FOR a PURPOSE.
4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
6 "Ah, Sovereign LORD," I said, "I do not know how to speak;
I am only a child."
7 But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.'
You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.
8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD.
9 Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "Now, I have put my words in your mouth.”
I wouldn’t dare wish the years away, but there is a part of me that would love a fast-forward button. I cannot wait to see what each of my children will do for the Kingdom of God. How will they use the gifts that were given to each of them? How will they serve? Who will they influence? We were each called to something great.
We were called for the purpose the Lord has set before us, before we were formed.
We are special. "Long before we thought of God as important, He already decided that we were."
So while this sermon didn’t change the fact that my children will always hear comments about their physical qualities or abilities, it does change my response to them. My job is not to influence how the world sees my children, but to influence how my children see themselves. To know why they are special. I don’t want it to matter to them whether people value their appearance or performance. They will know that their worth lies in the fact that they were knit together to the smallest detail, by the same God who created the universe.
Now, that is something to be proud of.
And there is more good news…
I’m not alone in teaching this to them.
For starters, everything I’ve written here is what I learned from a wise counselor, who is listening to the Lord, and sharing exactly what we need to hear to be encouraged on this topic. None of these thoughts are originally mine, and I am so blessed to be lead and encouraged both from the pulpit and personally by a man who is following HIS calling. Thanks, Rick.
(in fact, you are better off to stop reading now and go listen to his message from this weekend. Go here and listen to "Called #8.)
Also, I’m surrounded by an amazing community of believers who sees each child as special. I couldn’t say enough about our amazing Children’s ministry staff and they way they are cultivating identity in my children and hundreds of others. My children are taught the word by adults they love each week. And even more, they are prayed for. On Saturday during this lesson, Rick had pictures on the screen of babies from the baby blessing and asked the congregation to pray for each. I was a blubbery mess as pictures of Lou and her friends came across the screen, knowing that over the weekend there would be literally thousands praying for their tender hearts. That means the world to me.
Finally, we are blessed with family and friends who are taking time to invest in a deeper way with each of my children. Teaching them everyday. I’m so blessed that my children are “trained in the way they should go” even when RRL and I fall short.
“And that’s an encouraging thought”
One that RRL and I needed as we start another week of purposeful parenting. And maybe, just maybe, I needed to be reminded of that for myself as well. I was created on purpose. For a purpose. And so were you. Not the least of which is parenting.
Oh Lord, help us be wise stewards of this great gift, our children. Help us write your words on their tender hearts. Help them see your purpose. Hear your call.