I remember holding my son for the first time and experiencing a feeling of overwhelming love and sense of deep connection. I don’t know if I audibly said the words “I love you”, but every adjective I used to articulate my thoughts could have been replaced with love, love, love.
In that moment, my brain didn’t register the cost of what “I love you” would and does require of me. I had all the gushy, emotional, I’ll provide for you and I’ll take care of you kind of feelings.
However! When God says “I love you”, it’s backed by Sacrifice. That’s sacrifice with a capital “S”. Which is not to be confused with the sacrifice of forgoing the luxuries of my geographically blessed Western culture, to give my child a better education, neighborhood, clothes, toys, privileges – sacrifice.
God’s love in the form of Sacrifice was a missional purposed life with fierce focus. To say that another way: God’s I love you is purposed and intentional.
So how can I take my lower case sacrificial love for my children to the next level? I think it happens through living God love out loud.
God love is….
- Setting expectations, HIGH expectations.
- Setting boundaries- that are known and respected.
- Setting a path- Pray over them, Acknowledge their needs, Train them using scripture, and model Humility in front of them.
In order for us to grasp the fullness of what it cost us to “really” love our children, we must ask God daily to help us love our children the way He loves them.
We know in our heads, but practically what would that look like?
Ask yourself: What does God expect of me and my children? What expectations do I have for my children? And please don’t stop with simply having a conversation in your head, but write down what those expectations are and include why they are important. Once you’ve put them in writing, share it with your children. You can’t assume they know what you mean if you don’t tell them….and tell them often.
If you are clear on the “what” and “why” of your expectations, there will be people, places and things that will be off the path you’ve set for your family. Again, sit down and discuss what is not a part of the path for your family. And don’t forget to discuss “why” these are not on your path. This doesn’t need to be a negative conversation where you’re telling them all they can’t do. Choose to focus and share all they can do, will do, and are destined to do on the path God has chosen for them.
I can’t stress enough how much prayer should be a part of your daily routine for your children. I am NOT talking about praying for happiness, success, making friends etc. (these are nice to pray but I don’t believe they are the foundational prayers for our children’s lives). I am talking about prayers for developing a love for people not like them, a hunger to change what is unjust, a heart for obedience, a ear for God’s voice and wisdom on how to live this “out loud” for HIM! Praying over our children is the beginning of or acknowledging their unique purpose(s) on this earth. They need to know they are valued. Even your infants need to hear you speaking God’s purpose in their lives. Declare everyday who your children are in Christ. Talk about their strengths, claim victory over any weaknesses. Give them a thought or plan to overcome a weakness.
God love is Sacrificial. It requires that you and I as parents are dependent on Him. Our emotional love for our children will cause us to say yes when we have no business doing so and it will have us saying no when we should absolutely spur them on. Let’s parent out of God love for our children.
Living Out Loud
in HIM, terry