I recently accepted a request to work with the young children in my local church. Not much has changed, as we are still largely virtual due to the pandemic.
But, I’ve been thinking about what I would say to the little ones and their parents if I had the opportunity.
I would start with worth.
From the Mouth of Babes:
A few weeks ago, my daughter did something sweet for her brother. She came to me, thrilled:
“Wasn’t that kind, Mom?”
“That was very kind,” I nodded.
“But you love me even when I’m mean, right, Mom?”
“Yes, I love you no matter what,” I replied sincerely.
“And Jesus loves me even when I’m mean, too, huh?”
“Yes, Jesus loves you no matter what, too.”
You are of infinite worth.
When we begin to see that, it changes everything.
Grace changes our response to failure.
Imagine removing shame from the equation and being willing to fail.
We trip up all of the time as children. And we try again.
Somehow, as adults, we learn that failing is a bad thing. There’s no point in getting back up if we’re just going to end up right back on the ground. So, why try?
When we realize that failure doesn’t mean anything about us – it doesn’t change our worth – we are infinitely more willing to persevere.
Which is good! Because the truth is, we can’t succeed without failure.
And, we can’t fail our way to success without Grace. Without Jesus’ unconditional love, His faith in us, and His power to help us do better.
Grace changes our response to the failures of others.
Consequently, when we experience that Gift in our lives, we respond to the failures of others differently.
Does that mean that we, or they, are perfect? No; rather, our love for the imperfect is more perfect.
And it all starts with understanding your divine identity.
Grace + Boundaries
That doesn’t mean I don’t also teach fundamental truths, and boundaries.
For example, “I always love you, even when you are mean. But, when you act a certain way, others don’t want to be around that behavior. Maybe you can take some time to yourself.”
Or, “Jesus loves you no matter what. He created you. He knows you are capable of amazing things, but He allows you to choose. Some choices bring you closer to Jesus, and to long-term joy, but it is up to you. Whatever you choose, it won’t change your worth in His eyes.”
The key is, we need both grace and boundaries.
The 80/20 Principle
As for me, I ascribe to the 80/20 principle. Maybe even 90/10.
I once heard a young woman describe a Sunday School lesson on sexual purity. She lamented, “The teacher spent 80% of the time telling us that we were impure and unworthy if we did not practice abstinence… At the very end, she touched on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I wish that had been reversed – that she had spent 80% of the time teaching us about Jesus’ unconditional love and sacrifice.”
Again, both are important. Without boundaries, we revert to the natural man. Without grace, we can’t bridge the gap when we fall away.
But, when I think about the character of the God I know, and the Jesus I read about in the scriptures, I feel like He would spend the greater part meeting us where we are at – showing us His love, and building that relationship – so that we trust Him when He says, “Come Follow Me.”
Here’s to progress from a place of love.