Jeremiah 1:5 (The Message) – “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations— that’s what I had in mind for you.” Every newborn is birthed from a place of utter seclusion with the Creator! This reality is beyond breathtaking. No wonder Jesus tells us to imitate children, for they just came from His Presence for nine months straight! God places something deep within every human being – an identity and destiny! Our identity is who we are, and our destiny is what we are called to do with our time on earth. However, the moment a newborn gasps for air and the umbilical cord is cut, they leave the place of perfect seclusion and enter into a fallen world. Instantly, they enter a world where the enemy tries to wrap them in insecurity, fear, and heaviness. They will spend the rest of their life finding their way BACK to their original position in the womb. I do not mean in the physical fetal position but the position of being fully loved, completely secure, and highly adored! A newborn spends nine months with God oohing and aahing over them. They are protected, safe, and loved just because they are! They do not have to earn anything, make anything happen, or work at anything. They just need to BE! Inhale that for a moment. They do NOTHING, yet God is so excited and pleased with them. He giggles when they wiggle. He smiles when they sleep. He protects their fragile being in His mighty hand. Then, they are born, and eventually, the world teaches them that they aren’t all that special and do not matter much at all. Their parents are too busy for them and long to be held and nurtured. The fighting in the house tells them that the safety of the womb is long gone. The kids on the playground do not like them either, so something must surely be wrong with them. They grow up feeling alone and isolated. They smile but are dying on the inside. They realize their voice is useless because no one listens to them. The fashion magazines tell them that they were created lacking what everyone else seems to be gifted with. The news reminds them that their world is harsh and cruel. They marry hoping their spouse will return them to that sweet, safe place in the womb, but instead, they only add more blankets of hurt, wounds, and feeling unsafe. HOWEVER… we are an army rising up and releasing God’s Kingdom, restoring our children to their Father, the way it was designed to be – absorbed in His Presence, safe and secure!
FINDING OUR WAY BACK
At church, Hudson asked if I would buy him a muffin and began to tell me how he didn’t have any time to eat. It rubbed me the wrong way, so I stopped and asked if that was true. He had 45 minutes, and ‘all’ he did was get dressed, which provided enough time to eat. I needed him to see something. He was coming at me as a victim, trying to motivate me to meet his need. I want him to approach me as a son. I want him to see me as a mother who cares. Yes, I want him to take responsibility for managing his responsibilities and time, but this isn’t his norm or weakness. I helped him to see that he wasn’t a victim but instead chose not to eat and was now paying the price for it. I asked him to approach me like a son and humble himself with his need. It is risky asking someone for help when you have messed up, but I don’t want my children to partner with being a victim to motivate me (or others) to help them. If I had bought him a muffin without helping him to own his choice, I would have indirectly taught him that there is power in being a victim. He enjoyed his muffin and grew in learning how his Father deals with His children.
Rest doesn’t mean sitting idle and doing nothing. It means getting your identity from Him, not in what you do. If rest is something you struggle with, ask, “Jesus, will You please show me what about rest makes my heart so uncomfortable?”
I kept hearing this phrase over and over. I finally sat down to explore what God was telling me about it. I had to do some research on it and discovered the authority that is exercised when we put our stakes in the territory God has given us. One example involved Indians when they learned they were going to lose their land. They would put a stake in the ground and tie a rope to someone’s foot making them defend their territory to their death. Their belief was it was better to die defending your territory then be chased away. I camped out with this concept of putting your stake in the ground and felt like we needed to grab ahold of it more. We went on a family outing and picked out our stakes and then came home and wrote down the things that we will not be moved in. The areas, principles or convictions that we will not settle for less in. God has given us land to occupy, and we will not shrink back, be moved or bullied in this space. We wrote them on our stakes and drove them into the ground. We put them in the front yard so that each time we leave the house we are reminded of our territory and would not shrink back from it.
We teach our kids bike safety. We teach them not to answer the door for stranger safety. We teach them “Stop, Drop and Roll” for fire safety. We teach them to wear a life jacket for water safety. But do we teach them sexual safety? Predators are looking for one thing – a child who has no grid for what is happening and has never been taught about sexual safety. When a child encounters things that are sexually unsafe, their spirit knows something is wrong, but they freeze because they do not know how to handle what is happening. They have been taught to obey adults, not to talk back, to never hit, etc.
#1. Children need to know the proper names for body parts – all of them.
#2. Children need to know what to do should they ever feel unsafe.
#3. Children need to know that they are never alone and can ask Jesus for help in ALL circumstances.
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Teach them that there is a difference between being humble and allowing people to speak into their lives and give healthy feedback and constructive criticism vs. someone or something being used as a spokesperson of the enemy to tear down what God has built and designed. Give specific examples, such as a friend saying, “Shut up. You are so annoying when you talk,” and a teacher saying, “I need for you to manage your mouth when I am teaching the class.” Both are addressing the issue of their mouth, but one is to be rejected and the other is to be received. How do they know the difference? It is generally tested by peace.
Often, we focus so much on the struggle instead of the victory. 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, then deliberately partner with God to call that out in them. Be the parent who says, “Guess what God told me about you today?”
Years ago, I was in Kiev, Ukraine on a mission trip and the leader had us declare John 11:40 over and over. He said, “When the eyes of your heart see, stand up,” and one by one the revelation moved from our minds to our hearts. Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” I encourage you to read that over and over and over until your heart can see.
A father of some teenage children had the family rule that they could not attend PG-13 or R-rated movies. His three teens wanted to see a particular popular movie that was playing at local theaters. It was rated PG-13. The teens interviewed friends and even some members of their family’s church to find out what was offensive in the movie. The teens made a list of pros and cons about the movie to convince their dad that they should be allowed to see it. The cons were that it contained ONLY 3 swear words, the ONLY violence was a building exploding (and you see that on TV all the time, they said), and you actually did not ‘see’ the couple in the movie having sex – it was just implied sex, off camera. The pros were that it was a popular movie – a blockbuster. Everyone was seeing it. If the teens saw the movie, they would not feel left out when their friends discussed it. The movie contained a good story and plot. It had some great adventure and suspense in it. There were some fantastic special effects in this movie. The movie’s stars were some of the most talented actors in Hollywood. It probably would be nominated for several awards. Many of their Christian church members had even seen the movie and said it wasn’t ‘very bad.’ Therefore, since there were more pros than cons, the teens said they were asking their father to reconsider his position on just this ONE movie and let them have permission to go see it. The father looked at the list and thought for a few minutes. He said he could tell his children had spent some time and thought on this request. He asked if he could have a day to think about it before making his decision. The teens were thrilled, thinking, “Now we’ve got him! Our argument is too good! Dad can’t turn us down!” So, they happily agreed to let him have a day to think about their request. The next evening the father called in his three teenagers, who were smiling smugly, into the living room. There on the coffee table, he had a plate of brownies. The teens were puzzled. The father told his children he had thought about their request and decided that if they ate a brownie, he would let them go to the movie. But just like the movie, the brownies had pros and cons. The pros were that they were made with the finest chocolate and other good ingredients. They had the added special effect of yummy walnuts in them. The brownies were moist and fresh, with wonderful chocolate frosting on top. He had made these fantastic brownies using an award-winning recipe. And best of all, the brownies had been made lovingly by the hand of their own father. The brownies only had one con. The father had included a little bit of a special ingredient. The brownies also contained just a little bit of dog poop. But he had mixed the dough well – they probably would not even be able to taste the dog poop, and he had baked it at 350 degrees, so any bacteria or germs from the dog poop had probably been destroyed. Therefore, if any of his children could stand to eat the brownies, which included just a ‘little bit of crap,’ and not be affected by it. Of course, none of the teens would eat the brownies, and the smug smiles had left their faces. Only Dad was smiling smugly as they left the room. Now when his teenagers ask permission to do something he is opposed to, the father just asks, “Would you like me to whip up a batch of my special brownies?”
I want you to look back for a moment. Do you have siblings? How was your connection with them as a child? Were you taught to respect and love each other? Were strife, conflict, and physical violence tolerated? Did you feel like you belonged? Were you accepted? What things did your parents do that cultivated your relationship with them? Looking back, what things do you wish your parents would have done to help with your relationships with your siblings? This is important because you are deciding what things you want to keep in your generational line and what things you want to change. Siblings matter because they are part of God’s plan for family. God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit are ONE, yet they all have different characteristics to them. Such as, my son is one human, but he is a son, brother, and friend. He relates differently as a son than he does as a friend. Family is so dear to God because the earthly family mimics the nature of Himself, Jesus, and Holy Spirit. Our earthly father is where we get our sense of identity (who we are), being provided for, and protection, which is a reflection of the character of God, our Provider, and Father. Our earthly mother is whom we get our comfort, nurture, and learn about life from, which is a reflection of the character of Holy Spirit, our Helper, Teacher, and Comforter. It is through siblings that we get our sense of BELONGING, which is a reflection of the character of Jesus, our Companion, and Friend. When siblings are not taught, trained, and expected to get along, it affects their deep sense of belonging in the world. There is great insecurity inside of them when those closest to them are allowed to reject them. The fact that there is conflict isn’t the issue (and is not a reflection of you being a bad parent). The conflict in itself is actually quite normal. Children have flesh that is selfish and self-seeking. Part of parenting is equipping our children with the tools to GROW. The conflict isn’t a reflection of anything ‘wrong’ but rather highlighting areas in which you, the parent, have some work to do to teach and equip them.