The other day, as we drove in the car, I did a terrible thing. It was hot and uncomfortable, and I'd just hurt my neck. My little girl, from the back seat started putting her stuffed animal on the back of my arms, my seat, and eventually on my head. I pushed it back off my head and asked her to stop. And then I saw the look on my husband's face. I turned around (I was not driving) to see my little four year old hunched over in her seat, shoulders shaking, weeping. She was trying to give me her stuffed animal as a gift, and I had literally thrown it back in her face. I had crushed her. I had made her feel unaccepted, unloved and rejected.
There is a reason that so many movies, songs, poems and books deal with love and relationships. It is what drives us. It's what we are searching for. It's what we desire. Inside the depths of the human heart is the deep longing to be loved and accepted. We all have it, because we are made in God's image - and "God is love." 1 John 4:16.
This desire for love and acceptance drives us to do crazy things. It makes us quit our jobs and move across the country. It makes us put silly messages on the jumbotron at NFL games. It makes us make rash decisions - sometimes good, sometimes not. Love, in it's truest form, is a GOOD thing.
However, the lack of love and acceptance (or perceived lack of it) is devastating. It makes us weep, mourn, lash out in anger, withdraw into ourselves, and shut down our emotions. It makes us pass on hurts from generation to generation. It crushes our spirits and leaves us thinking we are not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, funny enough..."I am not enough." It is heart-wrenching and hope destroying. And it is a lie.
God says, "I have chosen you and not cast you away" (Isaiah 41:9), "I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3) and "neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39). But Satan knows that he can incapacitate our children (just like he tries to do with us) by telling them they are not loved. This life is hard and our children are sent messages constantly telling them that they do not measure up, and are therefore not accepted or loved. If they are not living in the truth of the Word of God, they will probably believe these messages. Their tender little hearts are poised to be crushed by the Enemy.
Even though God's love is what ultimately matters and sustains, the love of a parent is the first love a child knows. We are God's vessels, pouring his love onto them. It is our love, or lack of it, that shapes their views of themselves. And no matter how old your children are, it is never too late to begin to speak truth and love into their lives. Our words, actions, eye-contact, facial expressions and time commitments all tell our children how loved and valued they are. Do we hug them? Do we speak about our love freely and without shame or embarrassment? Do we look our children in the eye when we tell them we love them? Do we spend time with them? Do we show them, in any way we can, that they are loved and accepted just the way they are?
Sometimes, in order to be able to do this, we need to get past wounds and lies we believe ourselves. Often our own hurts and lack of love make it hard to pass love on to others. We need the healing of the Lord to not speak the same lies into our children's lives that we spoken into ours. But it is imperative that we let the Holy Spirit do his work in us so that we can break the cycle of crushed hearts, and pass on love and acceptance to our children.
We pray for our children, that throughout their lives they would feel loved and accepted by you. We pray that they would know your love in their heads, hearts and depths of their souls. Whatever the state of their hearts at this moment, we pray that your love would penetrate their core. Let them live life knowing that you loved them so much you gave your life for them, and help them to always understand that "nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:39) Please protect them from Satan's lies and schemes to try to shake their faith in your salvation and their trust in your love. May they always have confidence in themselves and security in their identity because they know they are loved and accepted by the Creator of the universe - and we pray that they would abide in your love all of their days. When rejection comes, let it roll off their backs as they stand in the confidence that you love them and fully accept them. We ask, Lord, that today you would manifest your love in a very real way to them, and that you would give them the ability and desire to receive it.
We also pray, Lord, for us as parents. Give us the ability to love our children as you do. We come with pain, wounds and baggage - but we desperately ask that you will help us not pass those things on to our children. Let the generational pain stop with us, that our children may live knowing completely that they are loved by us, accepted and ultimately "enough". Help us receive your love, and pass it on to our children. Please give us words to speak into their lives that will reach their souls with the message "You are loved. You are accepted. You are a wonder of God's creation. You are enough." And as we pray this for ourselves, we also pray that family members, friends and teachers will speak these messages to our children as well.
Help us show love to our children in ways they can receive it. We know you have made each of our children unique, and we ask for your guidance in how to speak love into each of their lives so that they, in their own love language, can recognize and accept it. And we pray that, as they are love by us and you, that they would learn to love others freely as well. Give them confidence to freely speak words of affirmation and show love to others in appropriate and authentic ways. Help them know how to communicate love to those around them in a healthy way. As they are loved, make them a fountain of love into the lives of others.
In Jesus name, Amen
Scripture to Claim:
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:3
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1,2
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God...This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him...Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world...And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:7, 9, 11-14, 16
We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19