It was date night and we were enjoying a peaceful dinner. A group, of probably college age girls, came and sat at the table right by ours. They had been taking pictures and were looking over their images. I heard all kinds of comments about what they saw as they looked at the screen. Their waitress approached the group and you could tell she was intimidated. These girls were all blond and confident. She had brown hair and was timid, not yet comfortable in her own skin. It was a quite a contrast.
I told my husband I wanted to go talk to the waitress. He asked what I would say? The first thought that came to my mind was, “you are enough”. I wanted to take her sweet little face in my hands, look beyond her glasses into her eyes and speak those words to her. I wanted to tell her that God created her to be her, not anyone else. Her hair color, eyes that needed glasses, the skin tone, all of it was done on purpose. She is an original design. She was created in the very image of God. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27). Is that not such good news? When you look in the mirror, your image was created by God and you bear His likeness. It is also clear that it is He who makes male and female. He decides, we do not. This clearness is found on the first page of our Bible. Why do we debate?
Back to the precious waitress. My heart was immediately drawn to her because I saw myself at her age. I would have loved if someone would have been able to reach into my insecure world. However, I am not sure if I would have heard them. My defensive wall might have blocked truth. Wounds can create self protecting walls as fortified as Alcatraz. In our home, when wounds happen, I want to deal with them as soon as they become known. I want our kids to know home as a safe, loving and truth-telling place to land. When the wounds are a result of their sin, I find it best to deal with it sooner than later. You repent, ask God for forgiveness and turn in the opposite direction. Turn towards grace. Sometimes it is my sin that wounds our kids or maybe another kid at school. I do the same thing, then ask the wounded one for forgiveness. Saying I am sorry and asking to be forgiven get much easier the more you practice.
Also, the lies we tell ourselves have tremendous wall building power. Tell yourself enough of them and you have made yourself quite a defense. Add on to that the reality of living in a world full of us sinners and walls become normal. Ever met an angry, controlling or bitter person? Ask a few questions about their life and I bet you see wounds, that over time have become walls. Anger, control and bitterness become weapons to protect the wall fortified around their broken heart. I recently read a book by Corrie Ten Boom and she completely gave words to how I grew up feeling. She explained that hearts broken lead to feelings of insecurity. Goodness, that explains so much of my bent towards sin that gave me the false sense of security!
Our hearts are a precious space. How do we protect our hearts? Are we suppose to? We read in Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” This explains so much. As I look at my own children, I see what gets to their heart and then what flows out. I have noticed that if too much time is spent isolated, on their phone, playing video games, being inside or if their schedule is too busy, they are different. A hardness is evident in their eyes and words. I recognize this and make corrections. My sister gave me the best compliment one time and it has stayed with me. She said, “You guard your kids hearts at all cost.”
Something very hard is allowing painful situations to shape their hearts. This is hard to see as loving, but it is necessary in my opinion. I use to jump in and rescue at the first upset. I did not want them to experience any kind of pain. To me it falls under part of the “Training up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). By the way, I pray this over every child I know of that has been trained, but right now is away from the Lord. I ask the Lord for these children to come back. I ask that there be rejoicing around the table for the child who returns.
A great verse to remind ourselves of in the waiting is, “Behold the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy that He cannot hear.” (Isaiah 59:1). We have a God who hears our cries for our children and has help in His hands. I like to remind the Lord of His words, promises I am counting on. “As for Me, says the LORD, ‘this is my covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants’, says the LORD, from this time forevermore.” (Isaiah 59:21). So I will be encouraged as a mom that takes the time to teach our kids scriptures, God’s very words, that these life-giving words will not depart from them. These words are wisdom that direct them continually. They may forget for a season to whom they belong, but the Lord says they will come back and I will remind Him of that promise if that time ever comes.
So to all the parents with children far from the way they were trained and to the precious waitress who is someones child, I am praying for you. I pray that these children will have your eyes opened to how God sees them. I pray with this new sight your children will remember the way they were brought up and return, even today.
For the ones with children at home who are in the midst of training years, I have a great verse for us too. “Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift up your hands toward Him for the life of your young children.” (Lamentations 2:19). This is one of the reasons I get up early every morning. I have so much to learn from the Lord in training up what I have been entrusted with. I have to know the Word in order to live and teach it. Being a mom is a huge responsibility, a privilege and one I am so thankful for. So be encouraged moms, the work of today has an impact on our children for the rest of their lives. Let’s get to it!