"I believe that children are, by nature, very forgiving. I don't think children expect their parents to be perfect. I think they demand that their parents be real." (Beth Moore) There is much wisdom in these words - for the heart of a parent is to see nothing but good things for their child, wanting to protect them from the stuff we've had to endure ourselves. We want to see them avoid our mistakes, but so often we forget to be real with them about those mistakes. How can they learn if they never see the real struggles in our heart? Sure they may not need all the sordid details of our mistakes, but they need the vantage point of seeing us being totally real with them about how we faced those mistakes and came out different because of them - because it is that reality that brings the depth of connection that will help them be real with God!
My child, if your heart is wise, my own heart will rejoice! Everything in me will celebrate when you speak what is right. (Proverbs 23:15-16 NLT)
I will be the first to admit that I sometimes wonder if I was (and am) a good mother. I dealt with a whole lot of stuff as a single parent that I didn't want to walk through 'alone'. I recall losing my temper, getting way too wigged out about some of the things the kids did and didn't do (like cleaning their rooms). I also recall the times when I dealt with my fears all alone - simply because a parent wants to always protect their kids from those things. I also remember one day when I was asked to speak as part of a panel at the local youth group. The kids were free to ask us anything - and I mean anything!
That night, some tough questions were asked and answered. I had prayed God would give me wisdom for any that were addressed to me - and in his faithfulness, he did! It was one of the toughest evenings for me because some of the questions asked were about dating, sex, and the like. As I began to share, I felt God's peace take over and the responses must have been good - because I got real, shared from my own life, and told them how easily you could feel "violated" and "not valued" when you "give yourself away", even with heavy petting, let alone pre-marital sex. For weeks the pastor told me stories about how the kids kept coming to him one by one, sharing how much those words helped them realize their error in having had pre-marital sex, of feeling pressured by peers to "just do it", and that they wanted God's healing in their lives. These weren't girls and boys who you'd have thought were "doing it", but kids from good Christian homes, conflicted by their emotions and hormones - who wanted to know God still loved them, that they could be "valued" again, and that their hearts mattered to God.
We don't have to have a sordid story to tell, just that we are willing to share more than our opinions on a matter. You see, I shared how much I felt my heart change as I was married - how easily I felt myself giving of my love and self to the one I married. I also shared how violated I felt when that love wasn't returned - when it wasn't honored in the same way as I believed it should have been - when our lives drifted apart and things ended in divorce. I shared about the distance created when one gives of their heart and that love isn't returned. They may have heard, "Don't have pre-marital sex", but I was really sharing more about how much our "value" is impacted when our love isn't returned and we are not treated with respect. It doesn't matter what words I used, it was that God helped me to share from the hurt and rejection in my heart after my divorce and it touched lives.
We never know when our "real self" will be the means by which God opens the door of someone else's emotions to heal and restore, but when we are faithful to always commit to being real, God can use us! Just sayin!