She was tall and thin, and her long dark hair was naturally curly and complimented her dark eyes. I was sitting next to her mother when she arrived to pick up her young son. She walked over to her mother, said a few words, called her son over and left. She never made eye contact.
“Your daughter is beautiful!, I said “Oh, really?” she answered, “She doesn’t think she is. Her father and I made it a point to never tell her she was beautiful because we didn’t want her to become prideful. We feel it’s wrong to compliment our children or tell them they are beautiful...”
I was stunned.
I knew the young woman’s story. She had come from a very strict, rules oriented home. She was not encouraged in much at home besides how she was supposed to act, think and feel according to the Bible. That had been drilled into her head for as long as she could remember. When she graduated from high school and got a job that didn’t revolve around the church or her home, she began to receive the kind of attention and affirmation that she had not received at home. She married a man her parents didn’t like, and she now had a child. She was living with the cloud of her parent’s disapproval hanging over her head.
Can we encourage our children and keep them from becoming prideful and self focused?
Children are born with a prideful, sinful, and self focused heart.
- Ephesians 2:3 tells us that we are all “by nature children of wrath.”
- Proverbs 22:15 tells us, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.”
- Psalm 51:5 states that we all come into the world as sinners: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”
- Ephesians 2:2 says that all people who are not in Christ are “sons of disobedience.”
- Genesis 8:21 declares, “…the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”
It is our calling to be authentic believers and live out the gospel before our children. It is our calling to nurture our children, instruct and guide them, love them, pray for them, share God’s Word with them, and share the gospel with them! God is the only one who can work in a child’s heart and change him (or anyone) into a godly person. His Spirit draws them, opens their eyes, and changes and matures them.
We can help our kids learn how to deal with the pride that is already in their hearts and how to handle the lies of our culture that might cause them to become more prideful than they already are. Teaching our children how to fight the fight we are all in, letting them know that we as parents are fighting the fight as well, and that we are coming along side them will help equip them to be able to sift through all the messages that are out there and see things in the right perspective: GOD’S perspective!
God has created every single aspect of our being to be used to bring Him glory. We are made in His image, which means we are a reflection of Him! Physically, mentally/emotionally, spiritually, our gifts and abilities. All these things show us how good God is and they are gifts from him. They are also areas that can cause us to focus on Him if we see them correctly.
Back to the young woman. I wonder if she would have made different choices if she had been encouraged and affirmed as she was growing up. If she had learned how to handle the attention she would get outside of the four walls of her home and church, learned that she was created in the image of God, and that her beauty and abilities were a reflection of HIS image, maybe things would have been different. I don’t know. But ignoring the fact that she was beautiful didn’t make the fact that she was beautiful non-existent! All it did was make her feel like she WASN’T anything special and WASN’T attractive, instead of being equipped in how to use it to point others to God!
I can think of nothing better than refreshing my children and pointing them to God and His goodness by expressing gratitude for how God has made them and what God is doing in them. It enables them to see God’s great work, but also helps them to see Him as the source.
I am looking for every opportunity I can to encourage my children and others in this way, so that they are refreshed and God gets the glory He deserves.
Tell them they are beautiful….inside and out!
TELL THEM SO THAT THEY WILL KNOW IT FULL WELL!
Psalm 139:14 ”I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”