I am going to give you some great exercises to do with your children to go after IDENTITY.
Truth Notes – I often get a fun package of sticky notes (fun shapes, cool colors, cute animals) and then write words of truth to each child and stick them in their underwear drawer, between their folded shirts, in their lunch box, on the mirror, in their shoes – the ideas are endless. If they have a test, I will write, “You can do this!” and place it in their book or “Remember, you are never alone,” in their lunch bag. If my kids spend the night elsewhere or when they go to camp, they are armed with TRUTH notes from mom!
The Real You – When your child is feeling bad, believing a lie about themselves or just need some love, ask them, “What does Jesus say about you?” We cannot teach our children enough about the truth of their identity and what God says about them. The rest of their lives, they will get messages from others – their boss, friends, magazines, movies, and even unintentionally from us as parents – that communicate that they aren’t good enough or worthy. Taking the time in moments of peace to speak the truth will profit your child’s ability to become spiritually strong and fit for the long haul.
Who Am I? – Take an index card and write words that fit your child: “smart”, “loving”, “kind”, “secure”, “special”, etc. Wrap up that card inside tissue paper and place it deep within a gift bag (or brown paper bag). Do this before you bring it to the children. Now have a stack of Kleenex or tissue paper, and one by one as you wad it up call out lies: “stupid”, “mean”, “ugly”, “useless”, etc. As you call out each lie, place the wad in the bag. Do 8-10 lies/wads of paper. It’s okay to get crazy and have fun with this (they don’t know what’s coming, and the more they participate, the better the ah-ha moment will be). One mom taped a chocolate kiss to the index card to give them a visual of how sweet the treasure is inside of us. Explain to the child that the gift bag represents the heart that is in each person on earth. Remind them of the mean lies that were deposited into that heart. If a person hears that they are ugly, mean, unwanted, gross, etc., ask them how they think that person will act. Keep going until they take out each lie one-by-one until they get to the truth card. Ask them to open it up and read the card. Explain that each person on earth has something of value written on their heart FROM GOD, who made them. We are to go around FINDING that nugget of gold in each person. When they walk by someone at Wal-Mart and say, “You have beautiful eyes,” they are calling out the TRUTH about that person. When they speak life over someone, they are calling out the good!
Celebrate – I look for ways I celebrate their identity. My son was going through the highs and lows of being a teenager and frankly some days he baffles my mind. Since I am aware the changes are actually about him becoming a man, I will often go to him and put my hand on his heart and just say, “I bless your journey into manhood.” I am always calling out WHO my children are. We can’t put the entire focus on WHAT they do, or we will be teaching them that approval is attached to performance, but we can call out WHO they are despite what they do.
Tiny Baby – Go to a craft store and in the baby shower section, you will find a package of really tiny babies (to be used for games and on cupcakes). Place the baby in the palm of your hand and just focus on it for a moment. This is a great visual for children (and you!) of how big the Father’s hands are. No matter what we are going through, Papa is always bigger. He’s got us and we are safe and secure.
White Heart – Take a piece of paper and draw a huge heart. Spend some time being quiet before the Lord and then ask Him to show you what HE has written on the heart of your child (do this separately for each child). What are the passions, dreams, desires, and strengths HE has put deep inside of them? Write down whatever you hear and then deliberately partner with God to call that out in them.
Hello, My Name Is… – Go to the store and get a label/sticker and write things like “loving”, “kind”, “helpful”, “worthy”, etc. on it. Throughout the day, call out your child’s identity and remind them who they are. Ask Holy Spirit to make your ears sensitive to hear when your children call out a lie about themselves. Things like, “I am not good at this”, “I can’t”, “I am not smart”, “I am stupid”, “No one cares”, and show them their name tag and ask, “Is that who you are?” Show them it is a LIE from the enemy, and they can easily toss that lie out. It is so important that children get practice in hearing GOD’S words about them and learn how to toss out the lies. They will use this tool for the rest of their lives!
Treasure Box – Get a small box or wooden treasure box and place a mirror on the inside. Really build it up and tell them that inside this box is what God treasures the most, what He sent His son to die for, what makes Him smile the biggest, and what He is most passionate about – then have them slowly open the box and see for themselves. For Christmas one year, I did this and wrapped the kids a mirror with a ribbon super glued for the hook. We hang them on the tree every year as a reminder that we are the gifts God enjoys the most.
“Identity” is a very big word rich in meaning. This is just a tiny sampling of what we can teach our children about identity, but the most important thing is that they realize that there are two opposing views – what God says about us and the lies the enemy whispers. We need to choose which one we will believe and which one we will kick out the door. Don’t feel pressured to do these exercises all at once. Instead, be committed to being intentional about teaching your kids what God says about them throughout your journey.
HeartWork – Did you have a mom/dad who saw the treasure in you? How would your childhood have been different if you would have had a parent who consistently called out the truth about who you are? What kind of parent do you want your children to have?