The Intentional Compliment

“I’m weird,” my girl sighed. “I don’t always feel like I fit in here.”

I launched into the infamous “God made you perfect” speech through a lump in my throat …but I knew very well it wouldn’t single-handedly cure the eight-year-old aches.

It’s OK, Mom…I’m weird,” she continued, “it’s a good weird.”

My daughter has the same potential as all other girls to have highly dramatic and face-twisting over-rations, but I love who she is. A Jedi, a wizard, a thrift-rack surfer. With a book in her hand and a never-ending eight-count to her step, she’s in love with laughing…  and I’m fiercely protective of her adopting any shred of the insecurity and comparison that fight me.

On the cusp of the “awkward” years, I’m keenly aware that the validity of my opinion on just about everything is about to drop off dramatically. Now is the time to intentionally buoy her light bright, to bob unscathed amidst an egocentric society.

Know love to love.

“God is love.” 1John4:16b

ic-1It’s not the happy ending of a rom-com or the heart flutter when Justin Bieber takes the stage … God is love. He loves perfectly, and He loves us whether we choose to acknowledge Him or not …and regardless of what we do or do not do. Built in His image, we’re programmed to love.

” Love comes straight from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and truly knows God. ” 1John 4:7-8

Discipline and consequences are necessary to raise healthy humans, but overly harsh ic-4criticism is not. If I look for ways to build my kids up in love, they will look for a way to do so for others.

Yes, it’s annoying when cereal and milk is spilled all over the floor, but insults don’t have to be built into my reaction. No, she doesn’t match perfectly all of the time, but killing her creative spirit and hurting her feelings over an outfit she’s proud of isn’t going to build confidence. I’m a big proponent of apologizing to my kids …mostly because of the mistakes I make.

Kids have to know that they are God’s children entrusted to us, and that He loves them perfectly even when we do not. In acknowledging God sovereignty, we learn what it means to be loved.

Look to love for how to love.

“Brianne, I want you to find something nice to say to ___ today,” I instructed my eight ic-2year old.

“Why?” she asked with an ever-so-charming look that could fry an an ant five miles away.

“Because…”

 Why? How do I convince her to love on others when she’s mainly concerned about getting through elementary school without becoming a target, herself?

In the grown up world, the same struggle is manifested daily through social media. I deactivated my account when I lost the ability to look into the mirror confidently.  It was freeing, not knowing what everyone was doing all of the time. But then I sat in church, and felt like a wimp hiding in the corner.

“This is the culture we are called to reach,” Pastor preached.

I sighed out loud. Come on, Jesus … really? There?

To walk in love is to walk with Jesus …wherever. God sent Him here to walk out love on earth, and we’re called to at least try.  I don’t want to go out of my comfort zone any more than my daughter does. Jesus, without qualifying people or weighing what He would have to sacrifice, just loved on people. And when we follow His lead, we learn how to love.

“I chase only after glory for the One who sent Me. My intention is authentic and true. You’ll find no wrong motives in Me.” John 7:16

ic-3Yes… I want to be like that.

“Did you tell ____ what I told you to?” I followed up…

“Yep,” she said, beaming.

“Felt good, didn’t it?” I asked.

“It really did, mom …and I’m going to make sure _____ is OK at school from now on.”

I’m back on Facebook …and it bothers me most of the time. It’s a lot easier for me to turn it off and walk away …but that’s not the mission. Just as I teach Brianne to look for peers that need love, I need to look where my peers are to do the same.

Intentionally turn out to face your circle.  Look for ways to love. Hashtag it. Love it. Share it.  #wherever

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All it takes is a scan of the hurt that surrounds to remind me of how precious and fleeting time with my girl is.  I pray I’m able to fill those minutes with the knowledge of God’s love and the example of it that Jesus lived. True love lived out in her life will allow her light to shine amidst the storms that await.

Unlike my experience as a hometown Cleveland girl and sports fan …love winning in the end is a sure thing.

Happy Complimenting!!

Megs

Stay encouraged!

The Weird One

“Mom,” my seven-year-old began, “someone called me weird.”

The most precious pieces of my daughter’s heart fly gumptiously out of her mouth during our four weekly commutes to her dance studio. While the surge of adrenaline lingers alongside the remains of stale french fries and the screech of singing cats, she reveals the day’s truth.  This day was no different.  She flung her bag into the abyss of the backseat, and plopped down to catch her breath.

“Who called you weird?” I demanded.

“And Why- why did they call you that …what where you doing …when did this happen …what was your reaction…”

My mind raced alongside my blood pressure as only a mother’s does when

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…come to think of it…maybe we are a little “weird.”
the over-allotted amount of caffeine consumed that day collides with her baby enduring an injustice. In anticipation of my overprotective reaction, and predictable “turn the other cheek and be kind” lesson, she followed a quick eye-roll with profound summation beyond her years.

“I am a little weird,” she continued, “but I take it as a compliment.” I reached for the dial to turn down the “Jingle Cats.”

“What they actually mean to say is that I’m different,” she spat confidently. She lit a flattered smile and revealed, “They are actually complimenting me for being unique…and I like that.”

To think, how I might have ruined that beautiful piece of the Holy Spirit’s work with the volume of my two-sense and overprotective assault on her behalf.  I felt God’s grace quicken in my heart …

“See …you’re not doing nearly as bad as you think.”  Wink.

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Yep…we’re totally weird.
The ability to maneuver the insult maze with enough agility to cast a hateful one aside is not where my natural thought progression leads me. Instead of making light of a brooding sentiment, I park the dagger at the forefront of my thoughts.  Predictably, that fraction of negativity will seap into my brain via osmosis …become a truth I entertain, and argue with for the rest of the day. Jealous of my own daughter’s Christ-like attitude, God plucked me from my comparative seething and pulled up a memory from a week prior.

The memory’s light stirred my eyes back to the pages of my journal to a school day that ended in tear-stained cheeks over a recess battle of heart lost. Ah, second grade …when blurred lines so easily pull ugly pieces out of little girls’ hearts.

“It’s only going to get worse,” I explained in the best way I knew to

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Wait…weird is cool…and fun.
comfort her, “so you just have to figure out how not to let it affect you.”  (Confession …I often have these moments of brilliance when trying to instill wisdom upon my daughters …and then realize as the words leave my lips that I have yet to figure out how to apply them to my own life.)

My daughter and I share a gift to illuminate the love of Jesus in each others circumstances. It’s through my earnest search of God’s Word, to be the mother than leads her to Him and His truth, that I end up stumbling upon my own in our sweet bedtime conversations.

“And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Matthew 10:30

“I am with you in all that you do.  At home, at school, on the playground…my Presence is always with you.“Jesus Calling 365 Devotions for Kids, Sarah Young.

It’s not uncommon for us to look up at each other jaw-dropped after we read her devo for the day.  That night concluded with a peaceful dream etched on my heart. God’s Word tuned us back into alignment with His measure of our self-worth.

“It’s like God knows how many Legos I have …like He knows how many hairs are on my head,” And at that, we fell into a pile of giggles.

“Jesus and His message were rejected… In His own Hometown. Jesus was fully man and experienced human emotions. The people who had known Him since childhood rejected Him. Friend, it’s wonderful to have a Savior who knows exactly how we feel. There isn’t an emotion we experience He can’t understand.” Wendy Pope (First 5)

The babe born in a manger, grew up feeling the same aches and joys that inhabit our hearts.  It’s easier to hold Jesus’ hand in secret comfort, than to face an all knowing and omnipresent God with our grievances.  Christmas encompasses the great generosity of the gift of approach-ability through His Son…a love every parent can relate to …a sacrifice no one can.

The sweet smiling compassion that will sit on the level of my child’s bed and laugh with us.  That is what Christmas is all about; giving generously as He gave to us.  During Advent, we prepare our hearts so that there is room for the light, love, and encouragement He speaks to us in His Word.

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Jesus was “the” weird one.  He knew it.  He embraced it.  He knew what they did not… And perhaps not all that walked in His lifetime meant it as a compliment, but he wore it as one.  His recorded conversations in the Word reveal humorous quips alongside wise convictions.  He lived among us to save us, not so that we would spend every day drowning in self-deprecation.  Kermit the Frog sang, “It’s not easy being green,” but can you imagine him being any other color?

“I take being called weird as a compliment.”

A second grader’s vocabulary is still a little limited…maybe they just can’t imagefind the word to describe how awesome my daughter is.  Or, perhaps there isn’t one.  Maybe the only one that fits her perfectly is…Brianne.

There’s only One who knows who we really are …and His name is Jesus.  Emmanuel …”God with us.”

“Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

Happy Christmas,

Megs

Stay encouraged!