I just read this quote on Facebook. It was posted by Empowered to Connect, a wonderful group/website that exists to help families parent children from hard places.
I have been wrestling to understand why Levi cannot trust. I have also been wrestling to understand what lesson it is that God wants to teach me through my struggles with Levi. This may be a partial answer.
In her book, The Connected Child, Karyn Purvis talks about making connection with our child before we correct them. Levi’s therapist has talked to me about letting Levi know that we love him no matter what he does.
It is very hard to do that! Not that we do not love our kids when they misbehave. But, we often go straight for the correction most of the time. That is because when we are dealing with a kid we have raised from birth (or a child who is attached to us) we have a relationship built up with them that we are relying on. That relationship is in place and is part of the interaction regarding the misbehavior.
Levi is not attached to us. He does not have anything built up in him from our relationship to draw on. When we correct him I am pretty sure that most of the time he hears “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” Not super effective. The thing is I have been a parent for so long I correct him on auto pilot.
Kevin and I have talked about how hard it is for us to take an extra minute to stop and think before we move in to correct Levi. It is not coming easily to us. I am so thankful for one friend (Thank you L.H.) who has taken the time to give us a script that she uses with her kids from the hard places to interact with them regarding their misbehavior. Now, if we can just get it in our head!
Now to the deeper issue. Feeling worthy to be loved.
I was reading Levi a devotion this morning and it was talking about Galatians 1 where Paul is writing to the believers in the church in Galatia. They had been taught the gospel, but they were starting to listen to false teachers around them and be confused. The gospel is simply the fact that we are dead in our sins and can do NOTHING in our own strength to save ourselves.
2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We are under the wrath (anger) of God because of our sin. Jesus lived a perfectly righteous life in our place and then died to pay the price (satisfy God’s wrath) for our sins. We do not need to add anything to this. All we are told to do to accept this gift of God’s grace is to repent and believe. How are we saved? Repent of your sin and trust in Christ to save you from it. That is the gospel.
It is so very human to think that we need to add something – some work of our own – to this gospel message. It is so very human to think that we need to “do something” to make someone love us. Even to make God love us. Why is that? I am so guilty of this thinking. I don’t think I did anything to add to what Jesus did to provide salvation for me, but I think I have to obey God and do certain works in order to secure His love.
2 Peter 1:3-9 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
Am I really just forgetting that my sins have been taken care of? Is that why I think I need to do certain things to make God happy?
In Levi’s devotion book (God’s Mighty Acts in Salvation by Starr Meade) it said this: “While God’s people love Him and wish to do His will as it is found in His Word, we do it because He has saved us, not so that He will save us.”
So, to bring this back to Levi – do I show him unconditional love or am I showing him that he has to behave in a certain way to gain my love? Because, unfortunately, Levi does not accept that he is loved. Kevin and I need to show him that we love him – no matter what. We can’t just say this. We have to live this.
It is Kevin’s and my desire to act in such a way with Levi so that he knows he is loved – as we correct him. Empowered to Connect calls it “Connecting while Correcting“. Click on that link to read articles in that topic. This video is especially good on this topic.