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Throughout all of Scripture, God promises He will meet our needs for value, security, acceptance and connection

Throughout all of Scripture, God promises He will meet our needs. In the second chapter of Genesis, God says that it is not good for the man to be alone. That’s because when God formed the man from the dust and blew His breath into him, He blew in the needs for value, security, acceptance and connection. And by creating a woman for the man, God was meeting those needs. He was at once revealing Himself to the man and drawing the man close to Him.

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When I was a kid, my family lived in Dallas, Texas. It so happens that Dallas is the hometown of the famous department store, Neiman Marcus. In the 1950’s, Neiman Marcus was THE place to shop in Dallas. There was only one location, and it was downtown, since the shopping mall had yet to be invented. A visit to Neiman Marcus was a special adventure.

My daddy, who was a family-oriented kind of guy, was pretty involved in my life, especially for activities that were outside the home. So, around the age of 5, when I needed new “dress shoes”, my daddy took me to Neiman Marcus downtown to get them. The only details I remember about that outing were actually being in the shoe department of the store and spying THE shoes. They were soft black suede Mary Janes with rhinestones all around the front edge. I instantly fell in love with them and saw no need to look at any other shoes. I remember trying them on and my daddy saying, “Now are you SURE those are the ones you want?” They were indeed the ones, so he bought them for me. Although I don’t remember many details of the outing, I DO remember the feeling of being loved by my daddy. He wanted me to have the shoes I liked and was taking the time to make sure I was satisfied. And not only that, he was glad to be with me as I picked out something he otherwise would have no interest in at all. He wanted to be with me and he wanted me to be pleased.

In just that one simple outing to buy new shoes, my daddy met my needs for value, security, acceptance and connection.

Why do I remember that one random outing with my daddy?

When that memory plays back in my head, I instantly feel valued, secure, accepted and connected. Since those are the emotional needs that God Himself created within me, when I remember that day, not only do I feel all those things from my daddy, I also feel them from God. Remembering makes me smile.

When we are children, our parents (or other caregivers) don’t always adequately meet our emotional needs. When they don’t, we as children will figure out some way to get them met, and it usually won’t be a very healthy choice. When our needs aren’t validated by an adult, we might assume that our needs are wrong, or that there is something wrong with us for even having needs.

The beauty of the RYH process is that it helps us understand and accept those needs. We learn to look to God and also to healthy relationships with people in order to get our needs met. In the process, God reveals Himself to us and draws us close.

 

adult son leaving homeThis just happened too fast. Yesterday I was changing diapers and today I am buying sheets (extra long) for a dorm bed. My last child leaves in four weeks for college and the dreaded “empty nest” is right around the corner.

While I really don’t know where the time has gone, I do know I am so very grateful for the time I have had with my children at home. Sure, I wish I had done some things differently, made a few better choices, and spent more time with each of my children. I should have listened more and lectured less, and all the rest of the things on my regrets list. But truth be told, we haven’t done too bad. My children are able to think critically, act independently and take responsibility. They make good choices and are both helpful and useful to those around them. They love and respect their mom and even check in with their old dad on a regular basis!

I would like to take credit for this, but know I cannot. The truth is my wife and I chose, even before our first was born, to raise our children according to God’s direction and to share raising them with like-minded friends. We have prayed for them every day, deferred our “rights” to those God believes is right and sought the counsel, and support, of parents who went before us and raised great kids. We see parenting as both a right and a privilege and have worked at it every day. We are not “holy rollers” or “religious extremist” but we have taken to heart the Lord’s direction regarding love, respect, justice, grace, forgiveness, service, truth, work and a host of other life skills He teaches in His book, the Bible. Old fashioned? I don’t think so. Structured, balanced, honest, caring, trustful, fun and responsible–you bet! Proverbs 15:33 tells us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and that humility comes before honor. It’s a verse we have tried to live by.

Advice, I guess I have a little, but most of all I would say to just love people like Jesus did. Take the time to learn His leadership model and concepts and then just apply them to your life. The model is not complex, it goes like this: Spend the time to develop real relationships, share real world life skills, talk about ideas and concepts, hold those you love accountable for living what they have learned, pray (a lot), and finally, find situations for your kids to practice what they are learning.

Too often we talk about issues, concepts and ideas without a practical means of letting our kids try them out. Put them in the position to use their knowledge then spend your time catching them doing things right! Praise often, correct when needed, and continuously remind them of their incredible value and worth. Be a parent—every day.

I am not looking forward to the drive home after dropping my son off this fall. My heart is sad just thinking about it. I know he is excited, I know he is able, and I know he is ready. He, like his sister, will make a difference with his life. I say this with confidence because of the knowledge of his relationship with Christ. He knows the truth and he knows how to live truth. However, I will miss having him around. I have come to value his opinion and to enjoy his sense of humor and cutting the grass is going to take a whole lot longer. I remember the same sense of loss dropping my daughter off three years ago. But, it’s not about me…it never was. It is their time to grow and shine, and my time to cheer them on!

The issue is really all about maturity. Growing our children (and ourselves) is the goal and there is a plan that works! If you would like to learn more about parenting according to Jesus Christ’s model of leadership (we call it RCAPS: Relationship, Content, Accountability, Prayer, and Situations or Structures) click here.

I welcome your comments about releasing your children. Please comment below and share your experience, challenges and advice.

 

Originally Posted on JULY 16, 2012.  This was so good we thought it would be good to read again!

the heart tree

the heart tree

Because children interpret events with their emotions, it is important to protect your child’s heart. Many of the people I work with have been wounded by parents who have not been protective of this treasure. Some of their parents have been wounded themselves and have done the best they could. However, their own woundedness has driven them to make decisions that are harmful to their children. The following story was written by a 26 year old that I work with and is being shared with permission. It describes the events of a day that turned her life upside down. (All names have been changed.)

“That Day”

“That day. I will never forget it. It’s etched in my mind, clear as yesterday. It’s like a slow motion scene playing against the backdrop of melancholy violins. My world changed forever. The foundation broke beneath my feet into a million pieces. I was sinking, but there was no one to pull me out. I can see that little girl on that fateful day in my mind’s eye. She stands still, frozen as the unimaginable scene unfolds before her eyes; it seems unreal, like she is watching some twisted movie.

“This can’t really be happening,” I thought to myself. I had just returned from playing video games and eating chips and salsa with my brothers. My big brother, Charles, whom I loved and admired so much, had just given Richard and me the time of our lives at El Azteca. I remember on that sunny Saturday afternoon how happy I was to feel so loved as I played packman with my brothers at the local Mexican Restaurant.  In that blissful moment, I had no idea that Charles was shielding us from the hell that was unleashing at home. I had no idea that in a matter of hours, minutes, life as I knew it would change forever.

When we pulled up to the house, immediately, I knew something was going on. My dad’s car sat in the driveway with clothes piled high in the back seat. The car door was open. The front door of the house was open. My dad walked out of the house, still in his work clothes from the day before…only the front of his white collared dress shirt was unbuttoned, exposing his undershirt.  He carried a box in his hands. He didn’t look at us. He walked towards his car, and then I saw his back. His shirt was torn. He had scratch marks, and he was bleeding.  Confused, I stood there, not knowing how to make sense of what I was witnessing.

Charles put his hands on mine and Richard’s shoulders like protective wings. The fight must have drug out longer than he had expected. He must have brought us back too early, and now he was trying to figure out what to do. He led us inside, perhaps hoping that the worst was over. I was confused when I walked in by what I saw- objects overturned, broken glass, wax, presumably from a lit candle that had been thrown, plastered in dripping runs on the wall. WHAT WAS HAPPENING!? I didn’t understand. I heard my mom yelling. I can’t remember what she said, but I knew it wasn’t good. Every time my dad made his way up to the stairs to get another load, more screaming…I think I heard “GET OUT!”

I don’t remember how long this went on…time didn’t exist in that moment. But, I do remember, that whenever my dad would come down the stairs, he would offer Richard and me this sad look…of regret?  We stood still, absorbing this surreal reality. Once the car was packed, my dad made his way over to Richard and I as we stood in the dining room. He was lost for words, trying to explain to us what was happening with pain in his eyes.  My mother made her way over. She was furious, high on adrenalin, and impatient with my dad’s stammering. She butted in and, with vengeance in her tone, blurted out, “Your father slept with another woman last night in a hotel!”  Time froze.

I immediately looked at Richard who is two years younger than I.  He stared in shock.  Although, at his age, he could not comprehend the full extent of what my mother was saying.  However, at 11, I could.  “You have something blue on your lip,” I commented to Richard about the residual stains of the blue gumball he had chewed at the Mexican restaurant. “I don’t care,” he said, not breaking eye-contact with my parents. The details of what happened after this world shattering news are a blur to me.  At some point, it was explained to me that my dad was leaving to live somewhere else. I ran to grab a recent art project I had made at school, and I gave it to my dad to remember me by.  It was a box cut-out of a magical, beautiful world of flowers, rolling hills, and a majestic sunset, like the sunset I had watched with my parents set over the Gulf of Mexico just a few short months earlier on our first beach vacation. That time seemed like a different life now. My whole world was turned upside down in a matter of moments. I didn’t know if I would ever see my dad again.”

This young person’s self image has been wounded by the events of her life. The power of the Holy Spirit is enabling her to heal and recover. **We appreciate so much the prayers and support you give staff and to all the people with whom we work. Nancy currently is meeting with about 15 people on a regular basis, all of whom have been wounded by people who loved them. Our prayer is not only that their hearts will be restored but that all parents with young children will learn how to protect their children’s hearts.

**Please consider making a regular part of your prayer life, praying for the individuals who participate in our Restoring Your Heart Groups but the individuals many of our staff and restorative staff meet with regularly.

Other blogs relating to this subject:

 Hide and Seek: Where did I hide my emotions

The Philosophy of Pain by Nancy Higgins

More by Nancy Higgins

[edited by our communications team]

When I’m in Africa, kids are usually either ignored or sternly warned to behave. Fathers love their children, but I don’t often see affectionate fathers. Children run with a posse of older siblings and friends from dawn to dusk. Babies ride on their mothers’ backs all day. Often kids are considered non-entities until they demonstrate that they will survive pandemic infant mortality and grow into an initiated adult. In fact, in some cultures, a child isn’t given a proper name for several years! Until then they are, “Hey you with the boogers hanging down!” (My experience in Ethiopia was the exception. There, I was surprised and encouraged to see parents who were both firm and affectionate.)

One of several photo-op pitstops we took with  our preacher friend, Zekarias to say hello  to the children passing by. He loved those snot-nosed kids.
One of several photo-op pitstops we took with
our preacher friend, Zekarias to say hello
to the children passing by. He loved those snot-nosed kids.

I believe the culture Jesus lived and taught in was more akin to your traditional African context where small children were assigned value only in relationship to their parents (which is why all the OT babies are given names relating to the stories of their parents.) So, when Jesus scooped up one of these free-ranging little ones and shouted, “Here’s the kingdom!” I think it was quite a statement indeed!

And the shock value is still there today in many traditional cultures. I don’t think the message is that we should think more highly of our children, but that we should think less highly of ourselves. Our culture idolizes our kids and in my opinion, we put a lot of pressure on our kids to continue to be “so cute, so talented, so wonderful.” But many societies are so rigidly structured around a top-down hierarchy–even in churches–that Jesus’ upside-down kingdom is intentionally lost so that we can focus on whether an apostle is more important than a pastor… or a female preacher is more valuable than a male deacon!

Pastor Elias
Pastor Elias was one of those precious attentive
fathers who glowed when he talked about his kids.

Not to pick on the African church too much. After all, American churches rarely have trouble filling volunteer roles that get the spotlight. And for full disclosure, this is usually where I end up: leading the music, garnering applause.

But I’m trying something new these days. I’m volunteering for the nursery. I think it’s healthy for me to be around 5-year-olds who won’t say, “wow, that was such a profound lesson today!” And I think I can learn a thing or two from them as well.