The boy stretched his arms upward in expectation.
“Carry me, Mommy,” he said.
Instead of lifting him, the very pregnant woman squatted next to him and steadied her swollen body.
“Oh, I wish I could, sweetie,” she said. “Mommy’s too pregnant to lift you for a while. How about we hold hands as we walk down stairs?”
She smiled and took his hand. “I love you, you know,” she said.
He smiled and said, “I know. I love you too, Mommy.”
And then the voices spoke to him.
“She doesn’t love you any more, you know,” came one.
“She has a new baby that will take your place. You are worthless to her,” hissed another.
And he believed these surprising things about himself.
Lies, but there nonetheless.
And at age 3, it’s the first thing he remembers.
I don’t claim to be a perfect mother by any stretch of the imagination.
But I do know I have dealt with my own emotional baggage (and continue to do so as it pops up), read every parenting book I can get my hands on, apologized and freely offered forgiveness, and refused to wrap my identity up in my kids’ behavior.
I have made plenty of mistakes, even though I have had my nose (and heart and mind) in a Bible nearly daily for over two decades.
And prayer is a regular part of our existence.
And even though I did everything in that 3 year old boy’s life “right” at that moment, the enemy still got to him.
And when I found out about it, when he was nine, for a while, I blamed myself. To be totally honest, I cried a bucket of tears over it. The “if only I’d” thoughts started coming and plagued me hard and fast for a chunk of time, until I listened to Truth’s soft quiet voice over the deafening cacophony of lies spewing forth from that other guy. Truth said, “You did the absolute best you could at the time, and still are.” And I still make mistakes. So I own them, apologize to those I hurt, forgive myself as well, and move on. I apologized to that boy who carried a broken 3 year old in his heart. Even though I hadn’t wounded him personally and the enemy had, I had to help him. I had to facilitate forgiveness for him so he could move on.
The absolute Truth is that there is only ONE Jesus Christ.
I’m going to be human and so are you.
And the enemy is still going to act. He even acted with Jesus Christ Himself present – because the Trinity allowed him to. And the Trinity allows him to act still.
Today, I want to remind all of us of something that matters greatly. It’s a foundational thought that literally impacts everything in our relationships: It’s often the lies we believe that destroy our relationships.
Lies about what we or other people think, feel, or believe about themselves, others, or God Himself.
Dare you to refuse to believe the lies of the culture or that other guy who is busy on the prowl, looking for someone to devour. He wants to get in the way of your relationship with God, yourself, and others. He wants very much to destroy your marriage and can easily do so if he can get you feeling resentment instead of compassion, shame or guilt instead of God’s gentle conviction, bitterness instead of understanding and kindness, hate instead of love, and disagreement instead of curiosity.
And he starts with our thoughts about ourselves.
Within all of us is a 3 year old (or younger) who believed a lie that became the filter through which much of reality is seen. Dare you to challenge that. I didn’t know this at the time, but when God wrote The Respect Dare, one of the first things He had us do is revisit our childhood. A psychologist friend of mine later told me that a person’s childhood is where our personality and beliefs about ourselves, others and relationships are formed. By the time a child is 12, she said, these things are pretty solidly ingrained. What is cool, however, is that forgiveness actually has a “rewiring” effect on the brain, and it can heal not just unhealthy thinking, but the habits of thinking associated with emotionally damaging events.
Dare you to aggressively pursue Truth and forgiveness in your relationships.
Double dog dare you to do the hard work necessary to get through your own emotional baggage and have healthier relationships with yourself, God and others. TRIPLE dog dare you to apologize when you hurt others (even unintentionally or by accident), and forgive them and yourself, and continue to do your absolute best in relationships. Facilitate it for those (whether child or adult) who are not mature enough to do so for themselves. Have empathy, even if you did nothing wrong – that’s called compassion, and it’s very Jesus-like. “That’s got to be so hard for you.” “I’m so sorry you are feeling this way.” Even, “I’m so sorry you perceived that from me. It must have hurt you deeply. It wasn’t what I meant to communicate at all.
Know this is different than “owning” other people’s “stuff” – you aren’t taking responsibility for their behavior, but rather facilitating a discussion that helps them get free with forgiveness and the revelation of Truth.
It matters more than you know right now and impacts our ability to interact with literally everyone in our lives.
1 John 4:4-7 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
What about you? What lies have you believed? Can you choose to believe you are loved? Can you choose to believe you are a good mom? Dare you to share and encourage someone else.