“And we, out of all creation, became His choice possession.” James 1:18
Friend to Friend
We all have a need to be chosen, to belong. We are chosen by God for God and that remarkable choice communicates a remarkable love that says we are important to God. In the same way, our choices communicate what really is important to us. Every day, every parent chooses how much time and energy they will invest in their children. Those choices are eternal and communicate love. Twenty years from now, it won’t matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I owned, what kind of clothes I wore or how much money I made. However, my children will know how much I loved them by the choices I made. It’s easy to buy into the lie that our children understand our difficult schedule when the truth is that they need to feel unrivaled in my love.
I once taught a Community Bible Study that I dearly loved. Eventually, however, I realized I was spending more time preparing for that study than I was being a mom. I had to lay it down because while teaching that study was a wonderful thing, it wasn’t the highest thing for my life during that season of my life. Oh, I believe that a woman can have it all. I just don’t think she can have it all at the same time. We communicate love to our children by spending time with them.
We also communicate love to our children with our respect. In 1 Peter we are told to “show respect for everyone” and that “everyone” applies to our kids as well. “Respect” literally means “to cherish or delight in”. In other words, to respect our kids means that we cherish and delight in them. Respect gives them a sense of value and underlines their importance! Yes, kids must be taught to respect their parents. But it is equally important for parents to respect their kids. That means respecting their friends, their privacy and their space. Kids feel violated when someone opens their mail but respected when parents leave that mail unopened. We should knock before entering a child’s room. Let them decorate and arrange their rooms in their own way.
Over the years, our daughter’s room has been blue, green, purple and khaki. The walls have been sponge painted, papered several times and decorated with everything from beads and skate boards to hanging butterflies and artificial flowers. When we respect who our children are, we are not only communicating love, we are communicating dignity.
We communicate love verbally. I heard the story of Bob and Sally who had been married for 20 years. One day, Sally said to Bob, “You never tell me that you love me.” Bob replied, “I told you I loved you when we got married and if I ever change my mind, I’ll let you know.” Too many families work this way – on the basis of “I love you until further notice.” Children need to hear the words, “I love you!” We all need to know – every day – where we stand with the important people in our lives. Kids silently say, “Whoever loves me first can have my life’. It’s a great goal to tell each child every day that we love them. When my kids walk out the front door, I tell them I love them. I leave them notes that read, “I love you!” Every single phone conversation ends with “I love you!” Those words are not just words but emotional deposits into the lives of my children. I don’t every want them to run out of the knowledge that they are loved. Every child is looking for love. The best way to keep them from looking in the wrong places is to make sure they find it in the right place – your home.
If you are like me, there will be times when you run out of or can’t give unconditional love. You may want to go where I go to find the source of that love – to a living God whose love is unlimited and unconditional.
Lord, thank You for the children you have given to me to love. Help me to see them as You see them, through eyes of pure love. Remind me to tell them how much I love them. Help me to communicate respect and dignity to them as a mom. May they see You in me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Look for times to give up another priority just to spend time with your child.
Leave “I love you” notes taped to their bathroom mirror, desk, door, etc.
If your children are grown and out of your home, send them a card just to say “I love you.”
More from the Girls
Honestly, there are days when I don’t feel like loving my kids. Feelings have absolutely nothing to do with it, friend. Love is a choice. So when those kids are sticky, dirty and nasty…choose to love them. When they break your heart…choose to love them…with the unconditional love that God has for you.
For more on this topic, see Sharon Jaynes’ book, Being a Great Mom, Raising Great Kids.
Girlfriends In God
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106
Originally published Tuesday, 20 February 2007.