If everyone was born with a deep need for connection, why then are so many children feeling alone and without a best friend? I believe one of the reasons is that they are so ill-equipped to deal with bumps in relationships. Somewhere along the lines, we believe that if something is hard or even painful, it means it is wrong. But what if God knew what was inside our children and brought them the right people who would reveal what needed to be strengthened, healed, or redeemed? This normally happens through conflict and offense. Like every other parent, my heart longs to shield and protect my child from hurt, but that is not reality. Plus, it lacks faith in a God who knows what my child needs more than I do for deeper growth and character development. I cannot tell you how many times one of my kids came home from school, sharing that they got their heart hurt by a friend. Conflict is not a sign of a bad friend. Often, it is the ones who get deep into our hearts that God uses to reveal what is inside us. This is not always a reflection of how ‘mean’ the friend is, but rather that they are touching something inside of us that God wants to grow. Example: It may be true that a friend was rude or made an unkind comment, but perhaps God wants to grow my child to have thicker skin and not be easily offended. It may be true that a friend chose another friend to invite for a sleepover, but perhaps God wants to grow my child in knowing that their identity is not in how many invites, likes, or messages they receive. It may be true that a friend failed to respond to a message or text, but perhaps God wants to grow my child in believing the best and giving people the benefit of the doubt. It may be true that a friend ignored them, but perhaps God wants to grow them in having the confidence to try again. It may be true that a friend got mad and misunderstood their heart, but perhaps God wants to grow my child in an area of being vulnerable. It may be true that a friend failed to reach out in their time of need, but perhaps God wants to grow my child in forgiveness and not holding grudges. It may be true that a friend gossiped about them, but perhaps God wants to grow my child how to have brave conversations with someone who has not protected their heart. It may be true that a friend _________, but perhaps God wants to grow YOUR child in _________. As the school year unfolds, I encourage you to camp out in this statement. Validate their hurt and pain, show them compassion, and then ask Jesus what area He wants you to help your child grow in. Children can learn to fight well, push through the bumps, and not only become strong friends but become more like Him.
Having three teenagers so close in age has created some competition for crossing milestones, such as who will get their driver’s license first. One child came to me in tears, saying they wanted to get theirs first to “prove them wrong.” I asked what she meant, and she shared that the others were poking fun at her, saying she would be a terrible driver and would probably be the first to crash. That did not sit well with me, so I called a family meeting to talk about it. I asked if anyone had made jokes along those lines, and 3 of them raised their hand. I told them that for their ‘joke’ to come true, my car would be damaged, and if my car went out of commission, not only would they lose a chance to drive it, but their world would change significantly without a family car. I began to list all of the ways my car blessed them. I told them that they were prophesying that their sister would not only hurt my car, but chances are another car or, worse, another human being would also be affected. I shared with them the amount of the loan on my car and that I am required to pay for it whether the vehicle is operable or not, and it would be a significant financial hardship to me if that happened. I asked, “Why in the world would you want to ‘prophesy’ hardship, financial ruin, heartbreak, and loss over your family?” They started to catch on. It isn’t funny to make fun of someone else failing so that you can be the first. That is not being a success; that is being a bully. A truly successful person celebrates those around them and champions them to greatness, which goes for siblings.
We were sitting in a restaurant when I noticed a mom squeezing the life out of her son’s arm as she yanked him out of the store across the street. The look on her face wasn’t of anger but rage. About ten long minutes later, they came back. She looked like she had released her anger and was now ‘fine’, but the boy’s eyes were swollen and red. As I watched them return to the rest of the family, the boy immediately looked into the eyes of his younger brother sitting across from him and kept giving him pathetic, fake, forced smiles as if to say, “Do you still look up to me?” The shame that was over that boy broke my heart. Guilt is a built-in emotion that God gave us to tell us what we DID was wrong, but shame is what the enemy uses to tell us WHO WE ARE is wrong. Therefore, our parenting should always deal with the guilty person in a way that still communicates they are FULL of worth and value.
My kids were all taking turns being upset and offended with each other. I finally called a family meeting to discuss and eventually left the room, giving them instructions to ‘work it out.’ An hour later, I came back to find a greater mess. It was not only unresolved but worse. I told each of them to grab their HEART SPLINTERS book and their journal and go process with the Lord. I told them to ask God to show them what page to read and let Him guide them. I went to check on them and found this: One child was deeply convicted over how mean they had been to her sister for something she did last week. They were holding onto offense. One child was crying, realizing how she had lacked kindness and felt bad for the way she was hurting her sibling. One child said, “God told me to look at page 72,” and it was the very issue they were having with their sibling. Another child said they were punishing their brother because they were mad at their dad for something (profound).
Parents, I cannot encourage you strongly enough to purchase a copy of HEART SPLINTERS – Resolving Childhood Owies in Childhood for your own parenting tool belt but also to walk your children through the pages and teach them in the times of peace that Jesus has keys and solutions so that they can use them in their time of need. Children are hungry for the tools of heaven to be the answer and solution to what concerns them!! Buy one for your teen and usher them to encounter Him in their pain and process.
A sweet friend who I have known and loved for over 20 years sent me a private message telling me that one of my posts did not bring her peace. My first thought was that I should remove the post out of love for her, as I would never want to be responsible for increasing someone’s fear. But it didn’t sit right with me. I held onto it for a few hours waiting for direction from the Lord. Finally, I heard Him say, “Peace is an inside job,” and I marinated in that truth all day. While we are to test all things according to His Word, the truth is someone’s post, the news, circumstances, and hard trials do not have to rob us of our peace. This is a spiritual muscle that many have been tested in lately. Are you keeping your peace, guarding it at all costs? Flex your muscle that says, “I am unmoved by anything other than the hand of God and remain anchored to His perfect peace!”
While fear can be an emotion, more times than not, it is an actual demonic spirit and needs to be addressed. The enemy loves to take an event, even innocent ones, and whispers lies that feel true to the emotions based on circumstances. When we partner with the lie, we activate a demonic spirit of fear to influence us. It looks like this: Mom and Dad go on a much-needed date (normal) and leave the child with a sitter (normal). The child is uncertain about being left (normal), but in that uncertainty, the enemy whispers, “They are never coming back” (lie), and the child partners with that thought as their own, and now fear has a legal right to be there. While the parents return as promised, the lie remains because it opens something in the spiritual realm, not just in their physical minds. The next time date night rolls around, the child is tormented at the thought of being left alone. This is why kids are still afraid of certain things despite telling them the truth over and over. The battle isn’t just in their minds (lie) but is now a spiritual issue. This is why parenting is a verb, and we need to be active in helping our children with their spiritual lives. Lies are resolved through TRUTH. Fear is resolved through AUTHORITY.
How would you answer this question? “The thing I wanted from my dad the most was _____.”
I am not asking if you did or didn’t receive it. I am asking what you wanted the most from him. Spend some time forgiving him for not knowing how to give it to you. More importantly, have you learned how to get that from your Father? If we do not learn how to receive from Abba, we will simply pass on the same lack to our children. It is never about having perfect parents but experiencing the perfect Father.
When I was in my early 20s, I was roommates with a gal who was younger than me but more mature in every way. I would describe her as having Jesus in one hand and my hand in the other, and she would constantly introduce us in new ways. I learned so much from her. One day I had an appointment to get my car worked on, and she agreed to pick me up. I got my car checked in and was waiting outside for her. She was late – like really late. I wandered the sidewalk for over 30 minutes, growing more and more agitated. When she finally appeared, she found me in my car, speeding off without having the work done. I was mad. VERY mad. I punished her with the silent treatment and refused to talk to her. Over the years, I felt bad for how I treated her and gained some maturity in realizing that it was pretty lame of me to be so upset when she was going out of her way to help me. The memory always told the story of my bad behavior and being so rude, but I heard God say, “Ask Me to show you what I saw,” and I saw this picture in my mind of a little girl shaking; she was so scared by being left alone at night outside. She was surrounded by fear and intimidation as she was utterly unprotected and vulnerable. I realized at that moment my reaction to her had little to do with a friend who was late to pick me up and more about it triggering my memory of being vulnerable, alone, and left behind. My strong reaction was not about being impatient but about trying to feel protected and safe again. Over the years, I have learned about these splinters in our hearts that cause big reactions when touched. God does not want us to manage them but be FREE from them.
How about you? Do you have a memory that pops up often in your mind that tells the story of how ‘bad’ or wrong you behaved? Ask Jesus to show you what He sees.
Ellie came to me one night with a nervous smile and tears in her eyes. I asked what was going on, and she said that she needed to come clean about an email she got from the school saying she BOMBED a math test. I said, “Okay, thanks for letting me know,” and her lip began to quiver. I asked what was wrong, and she said, “I need you to pray for me. I know it is okay that I didn’t do well, but I feel so slimed with shame right now (tears).” Can I just say how HAPPY it made me that at 13, she can catch the shame slime and be so articulate about it? We asked Jesus what lie she was believing, and she said, “Something is wrong with me (aka shame).” We broke agreement with it, and I just held her. She KNOWS it is okay not to get straight A’s every single time, and she KNOWS I would not be upset with her. But the enemy tried nonetheless to throw a blanket of shame. She wasn’t coming under it. She just needed help throwing it off. Not today, Satan.
Please read PART ONE first.
You Have Work To Do!
If you have a white lineage, I encourage you to go before the Lord today and ask for forgiveness on behalf of your family line, heritage, and ancestors for any way they participated in the dehumanizing, abuse, and control of black people in the name of slavery (through purchase or attitude). I encourage you to ask for forgiveness for any way your family line has partnered with the attitude and belief of supremacy and hierarchy based on race.
Gather your children and talk about the issue of race. Talk about how it would feel to be excluded your whole life simply because of your hair color. We owe them their history, even if it isn’t always pretty. We owe them the truth so that they can be empowered to change their world. Have them write out an “I am sorry” card and offer it to Jesus. Have them write out declarations and speak into the atmosphere that we are all equally made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-28).
If you have a black lineage, I encourage you to get before the Lord today and ask for forgiveness on behalf of your family line, heritage, and ancestors for any way they have come under the spirit of control and partnered with rebellion or rejection (victim spirit) in defense. I encourage you to spend some intentional time today forgiving those who have caused you and your family line harm, hardship, and cruelty. This will not be won naturally because we are reaping the fruit of the strongholds created generations ago. Each person must do their own part to clean up the mess we were handed, put their stake in the ground, and declare we will not tolerate this any longer.
Emma had a bit of a rough day, and I knew her heart felt tenderized. The following morning, I made an effort to really see her and gave her a long good morning hug. I began to call out the truth about who she was. When I said the words, “There is nothing wrong with you,” she let out a big sigh and relaxed in my arms. I realized what she needed the most was to be affirmed that SHAME (something is wrong with me) is a liar, and she had permission to ignore it despite the evidence making it feel very true.