Welcome to Day 3 of Parenting Pointers and Mommy Refreshers.
Find a cozy spot where you can grab a minute to be encouraged and filled. You pour out all day. Let the Lord pour into you in this moment …
Today’s Parenting Pointer
I love you THIS much!
One of the most basic needs our children have is the need to feel loved. We all love our children and yet we can miss the mark when it comes to filling their tanks and making sure the love we have is expressed in ways they can receive. I was so blessed years ago to learn a little parenting secret. It is this: Underneath many misbehaviors are unmet needs. Now, there are many reasons children misbehave. They can act on their sin nature. Some misbehaviors are just part and parcel of certain developmental stages. Children who have disabilities or other challenges sometimes experience frustration or can not control themselves. For today let’s just think about how unmet physical or emotional needs beneath the surface can cause our children to act out. Our children don’t always have the words or skills to tell us what they need. They simply act on their feelings. They are children after all.
The need to feel loved is so great, and as I have thought it through, I think I know why. God created us to enjoy Him and glorify Him forever. We are created in His love as objects of His love to live in love toward Him and one another. Love is kind-of at the heart of this whole creation. Love is even God’s name. God IS love. We have a God-given need to be filled with love – to abide in love. This need doesn’t start in adulthood. It is present the day we are born.
The other little secret I learned is that for every God-given need, Satan has a lousy substitute. The substitute for love is attention. When children do not feel loved, they seek attention in all sorts of ways. Sometimes these ways can look cute or they can line up with what we, as parents want to see in our children. Children seeking attention in “positive” ways may be excessively compliant or may perform well to gain our attention and approval. But, on the other hand (and more often) our children express their need for love by acting out to get attention from us in negative ways. It is not a conscious plan, but when their need for love is unmet, they will settle for anything that gets us to turn our attention to them.
We have to be careful not to be too hasty to discipline our children before we address their underlying needs. You know this next bit, but I’ll remind you anyway – for children, time is love. They want time with you. “Mommy, look!” “Mommy, will you play Candy Land with me?” These are cries for time spent together – and believe me if I play Candy Land with you, you know I love you because I’d just about rather have my eyelashes plucked out than play that game!
Knowing my children’s basic needs – especially this one primary need to feel loved – has helped me so much. When they are doing something to get my attention, I see that as a flag waving me down, telling me, “Set down what you are doing and go be with your child.” We can’t always set everything down, and we won’t have to when we regularly pour into our children, but we do need to make sure we take time to meet this God given need regularly every day. Can you picture each of your children right now? Plan a way to say, “I love you” in a tangible, time spent together way this week.
God Delights in YOU
Can you believe this Truth in your bones? The God of the Universes loves you with an everlasting love. He doesn’t just love “the world” (which He does) but He loves you – right there where you are. Zephaniah 3:17 says it this way …
The Lord your God is in your midst
A mighty One Who will save
He will rejoice over you with gladness
He will quiet you by His love
He will exult over you with loud singing
One of the most “embarrassing” moments in the Bible is when King David just throws off his clothes and dances in his skivvies in the middle of the street as the Ark of the Covenant is being carried safely to Jerusalem. As I read this passage in Zephaniah, I am feeling this same lack of abandon, but from God – over you. He exults over you with loud singing. God. Singing. Over you.
Have you ever felt one of those moments where you just delighted in your child? Your heart feels like it will burst with the sweetness of this little one. God says we who are human are “evil” and yet we know how to love our children – how much more does He Who is perfect love us with goodness, lavish blessing and joy? He does.
Maybe your earthly parents weren’t the “sing over you” types. Maybe it was worse. Maybe you could never get it right in their eyes or they couldn’t show you the love they actually had due to their own unhealed brokenness. You were left feeling that you just couldn’t be the source of someone else’s joy – just by existing. You have to DO something to make them happy. Then, you reason, I must have to DO SOMETHING to make God happy too. So you work and you work and you long to please Him just so He’ll be happy enough with you to love you – even a little. But, here is the Good News (aka “Gospel”) … He loves you as is. Damaged goods. The can of peas with the dent in it so big that they won’t even put it on the shelf – yes, He says, “I want to buy that one – with my life.” You. He just loves you.
In His own Word, through the Apostle Paul in Romans, God says,
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers,
Nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth
Nor anything else in creation,
Will be able to separate us
from the love of God
In Christ Jesus our Lord
Nothing in heaven or on earth, seen or unseen can separate you from His love. I know that you sometimes can’t emotionally feel your connection with Him. Sometimes He feels distant and unavailable or sometimes you may long for more of Him and feel He is just out of reach. But, hang onto this Truth. He is near. He is Emmanuel. He is your God – personal to you and delighting in you, even as you go through the highs and lows of the important job of mothering your children. He is with you – to the end of the age and even until tonight’s bedtime. Touch back to this moment through your day. Let Him use this time to minister to you as you go about teaching, disciplining, laughing, holding, chasing, cleaning … let Him tell you in the quiet recesses of your heart: “I delight in YOU.”
I pray you found a breath of fresh air here and a moment to reflect and recharge your battery. Come back any or every day this month to get another Parenting Pointer and Mommy Refresher. If you have missed any of the other posts in this series, you can find them here. And, as always, I do love hearing from you. Let me know how I can pray for you or if something I wrote here touched you.