Tag Archives: loving your children

The Love Effect

Yesterday I was with friends who got into a discussion about love. We had just finished reading Love’s Playbook 2 and 3 on Genesis. And the gal leading our group said, What is Genesis about? She told about watching Roadmap Genesis and how good it was, but it never answered the why question.

After all the discussion, I had to say, “It’s about freedom. Freedom and love are so important to God, that They have taken 6,000 years to show it.”

Of course that will be an ongoing discussion because we are just starting the book of Job (episode 4). If you are around Newbury Park, CA, and are inclined, come and join us at The Place, 10:30 Saturday morning.

Afterwards the pastor asked, “What is the Bible about?” and he got all kinds of answers, but not what he was thinking of, “The Kingdom of God.” That’s a good answer. But I, of course, like Love’s Playbook better. (smile) There are many right answers!

This morning I’m thinking about love and the Love Effect. How does love affect us? How does it affect children? Do you see it reflected by yours?

We have a description of love in 1 Corinthians 13, but mostly what it has done for me is make me feel like a failure, not good enough, I’ll never be that! So I came to put God in place of love when I read it, and I really like that. It gave me a whole new picture of God! Sad that I needed one.

I’m finding two classes of people who believe in God. People who believe God is all-good and all-loving, but who don’t read the Bible. And people who see good and evil as both coming from God who may or may not read the Bible, and others who want to see God as good, but read the Bible and get messed up. They come away with all kinds of questions.

If you read it you understand. It happened to me.

That is precisely why I am writing it. We can’t get better than our picture of God. Writing Judges really challenges this–even from a cosmic war perspective.

One thing that has really helped me is my friend Jean’s explanation; she is an ancient (Biblical) languages scholar. She says that there are two voices of God in scripture. His preferred will, and his allowed will. Most of the time we are seeing His allowed will. God values freedom so much that They (all three of Them) are willing to suffer to establish it!

Why? Because love isn’t real without it. Love is a choice.

I talked last time about love being a choice more than a feeling. And that is definitely true. At the same time, I heard myself telling a client this week that like is probably more important to a good marriage than love. You can choose to love anyone. But to like and admire someone, which makes him/her much easier to live with, requires a lot of like.

What does this have to do with children?

You obviously don’t always like them, but if you have any health, you always love them. And even when you don’t like them you can choose to love them.

But what is the love effect? How are our children affected by our love?

Love should not make us afraid. There should be no fear in love. Respect? YES! Fear? No!

I have a grandson that usually looks at you from under his eyebrows. It’s hard to describe. But his eyes are “closed” while they are open, and he almost always looks like he’s waiting to get in trouble, or expecting to get yelled at. He has been yelled at a lot. They all have–all eight of them. What makes the difference?

Love should not make us hide. God doesn’t want us to hide. That is when shame grows. It comes between us and Him–between us and people. We hide when we feel not good about ourselves–and we all have those places.

We see the first result of sin (separating from God, separating from love) as hiding in Adam and Eve. Hiding and shame are the same thing. The way you kill shame is in sharing with someone who loves you and accepts you. Do you feel that way with God? Do your kids feel that  way with you?

Love makes us confident. We can always feel sure about  going to someone who loves us, no matter how badly we have blown it. Even if we know they will be angry or sad, we still feel better when they know.

Love makes us relaxed. “Ah the comfort of feeling safe with a person…” said the poet. Intimacy is safety. When we know we are loved, we relax.

Love makes us secure. Security is the number one love factor for a woman. For children, boundaries make security–knowing what is expected is comforting.

Love gives us delight. God delights in you. Is that a crazy thought to you? He really does. Scripture is full of it–one of my favorites is Zeph. 3:17.

Love should give us love. When we are loved and feel it, it makes us more loving. Love is energy, it comes to us by receiving love. Think of it as electricity–you have to plug into the source.

Love should make us free. When we love someone, we leave them free to make their own choices. God does that  with us. We are absolutely free to choose against Them, and They are always hoping we won’t. They want to save us from the natural result of our brokenness, but they will respect our choice.

We can die if we prefer deathstyle to relationship.

So we need to train our children, help them make good choices, but leave them free to choose when they are adults. Just like God does with us.

 

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Is Love Enough?

I’m starting a series of blogs on parenting. It happens that lately I’ve been asked questions and made observations that are begging inside to be shared about parental love and effectiveness. Please note that this is not shared in judgment. I’ve made huge mistakes myself.

I now have had the advantage of  corrective education. But more importantly I’ve had time–being able to go to my adult daughter (a full-time mom of five) and ask what it was like for her–which I recently had opportunity to do. Difficult to hear. But it is my hope that this will help you in raising children, or you can share it with your children, friends and relatives who are struggling with children. They may not even realize they are struggling!

I’ve decided to title this “Is Love Enough?” but considered calling it Love 101, if that weren’t so trite. It has become my conviction that we do not understand love. We feel it for our children, but most of us have a deficit ourselves that we are trying to parent from. We are doing the best we can, but we can get very tired and angry and confused when our children don’t respond the way we want them to and think they should. And believe it or not, our love can become toxic for our children!

So I am going to take apart the concept of love bit by bit, and hopefully illustrate it well enough to bring understanding. Please feel free to respond either publicly, to benefit everyone reading, or privately. I will answer all questions or clarify my presentation if it wasn’t clear.

I’m excited about this because I feel it is SO important, and I have learned so much just from writing the Bible–go figure. It makes sense, and I am sure I will learn much more. I’m excited about that too–it’s had a profound effect on me and my security. I grew up extremely insecure. And we all want to raise secure, well-loved, well-adjusted children.

So let me begin with one of my biggest mistakes. (I do have my daughter’s permission to share this.) Can we love too much? With our understanding of love, and our brokenness, YES!

When my biological daughter was six months old, I discovered her father was having an affair. My heart was broken, my world turned upside down–not a good state for a baby to be developing in. (Although better then than during pregnancy.) But even though I was totally in love with her, I’m sure I felt very preoccupied. Perhaps, it is why she was such an easy baby. She didn’t seem at all repressed though, she was very alert and ahead developmentally. I wasn’t one to give into depression. I’ve always been a fighter.

She was born in Minnesota, and on her second birthday, she and I flew to California. I had to get away, but knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have done that. At that time it seemed like salvation that some friends paid for my ticket. But she still remembers the feelings she had that day of leaving daddy.

Long story short, he followed us to California, and we tried several times to start over, but he finally left the last time when she was four. So the most important years of her life for personality and character development were unstable at best. But I am grateful he was in her life that long. Divorce or trauma before four is extremely hard on children (personality-disorder hard).

Once he was gone, she was my focus. I didn’t know it then, but that is a terrible thing to do to a child. They absorb your anxiety.

I felt so guilty that she didn’t have her beloved daddy, so horrible that I had done this to the most important person in my life, that I became indulgent. Thank God we didn’t have any money so I couldn’t indulge her that way. And thank God I was into health already, so I didn’t ask her what she wanted to eat–we were fortunate to have food, and I had to choose it very carefully. But for everything else, it was “What do you want?”

That is way too much responsibility for a child who, ideally, should  live care-free. That is why we have parents–someones to make good choices for us so we don’t have to. We can relax, secure that we are taken care of by someone who loves us and has learned a thing or two about life–hopefully has wisdom. We don’t have the ability to respond appropriately yet.

Children haven’t had enough experience or the chance to learn. These poor little ones only know what feels good, what tastes good; and in a broken world, that is not a safe method to choose what is good. They would live on candy and ice cream and doughnuts and never go to bed. They would be hyperactive, adrenaline junkies, with gray skin and dark circles around their eyes, who terrorize others with the burden of their power, and end up with diabetes before they reach puberty. I know you have seen it, just as I have.

I want to keep these under a thousand words, so I will finish the story of my mistakes next time. Fortunately, I had a friend who was gritty and bold and not afraid to speak truth to his friend. That is what I want to be for you: the friend who is bold enough to be the wall that everything that isn’t really you runs into and shatters or bounces off of.

Till next time…

 

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