“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.
“God is love.” 1John4:16b
It’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 criticism 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.
“Brianne, I want you to find something nice to say to ___ today,” I instructed my eight year old.
“Why?” she asked with an ever-so-charming look that could fry an an ant five miles away.
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
“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
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.
Your daughter is so blessed to have you! What a great way to live out and teach how to love like Jesus- wherever! Because He loved and looked out for and intentionally spoke life and truth wherever, whenever. Thank you for this beautiful and thorough exhortation to intentionally love people where people already are!
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