“How do I raise wonderful children who have avoided many of the world’s temptations?” I ask myself this questions daily, knowing full well that my children never have been and never will be perfect. However, I would like to have children who are grounded, a delight to be around, role-models for their generation and those to come, truthful, godly, etc., the list could go on forever really! Most importantly I want my children to know that in a world of hurt, confusion, drugs, alcohol, sex, anger, and frustration they have a place to belong. How often do we hear kids talking about wanting to find acceptance and a place to belong and all too often finding it in places that lead to darkness, despair and depression.
Over the last few weeks I’ve felt a little of that despair myself. How can James and I possibly raise all four of our children to be wonderful, amazing people both in our eyes and God’s? This morning as I sat in on a great lesson with a very wise woman I was given a fresh perspective and lifted from some of that discouragement.
We began evaluating from a less “spiritual” perspective what the basic needs of a person are. In my undergraduate years we studied a little of these types of things. The basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing have to be met first. Then safety and security, third was belonging, and so on and so forth. One of the last human needs is love (not THE last but close to it). As a parent I’ve always tried to tell and show my children how much I love them not always grasping that the “need” for love is actually quite small in comparison to some of the more basic needs that I may have been neglecting. But as I gave this concept more thought I clearly remembered my own childhood. I never once questioned that my parents loved me despite the fact that I didn’t hear it from them daily but more importantly I ALWAYS knew that at the end of the day I BELONGED to them, in their home, in the shelter of their protection. No matter what I did or did not do I would not be forced outside of that protection.
As our “teacher” shared with us in more detail the types of people she deals with in her own profession she challenged us that the best thing we could do for our children was to help them understand that they are OURS! As a believer we cling to the truth that we belong to God and he lives in us. We are a family in Christ and nothing we say or do can get us in or out of that family. It’s a gift, freely given and a place to remain without condemnation! In Romans we find evidence of this desire as Paul writes in Romans 1:5-6 “Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to BELONG to Jesus Christ.” The chosen people were the Jews but how much more meaningful would it have been to the Gentiles knowing that this gift of belonging was free to them as well!
I decided to put these ideas to the test and as I scooped my darling three year old daughter up I whispered in her ear that she was MY beautiful, child and she would always be mine! I was rewarded with the biggest grin and sweetest giggle as I buckled her into her seat. Then I turned and buckled my very affectionate five year old into his seat and whispered similar words into his ear. I was not disappointed by his response either. Both proved the point that they knew they were loved but more than anything they felt treasured and protected by my affirmation that they BELONGED to me.
In a world that offers little in the way of true belonging and real love I realized that in order to help my children become the people I know God wants them to be I must first provide for them a safe home where they can be themselves and know they are always, ALWAYS welcome and treasured. THE place where THEY belong and then train them up in the way they should go so they will not depart from it.
These precious gifts do, in fact, BELONG to me and always will!