I'm not sure how or when the tradition started,but one of my favorite times of the week is when I bathe my young children.
Six, four, and three-years-old, their legs reach nearly to the end of the tub as I lay each one down. My left hand in under a back. And my right hand rinses soap out of hair. Wide eyes look up at me, trusting, and it's then the words come:
“You are beautiful.” “God created you for a special purpose.” “God has wonderful plans for you.” “I love your caring heart.” “You have a beautiful smile.” “God brought you to me … and I'm thankful.”
The words are never the same, but from the looks on their faces I know that they hear me. From the twinkle in their eyes, I know the words go deep. And that's exactly where I want them to be … I want those words rooted in the deepest parts of my children's hearts. I want my children to know who they are—loved by God, loved by me—before the world teaches them who they should be.
What was the age when the world's messages first assaulted me?
Too young, that was for certain.
Sitting side-by-side with other children in school I realized I wasn't as smart as others. Trying out for choir (and not making it), told me that I wasn't as talented as I thought. The chubby cheeks in 4th grade and the garage sale clothes made me long to be someone other than myself. Yet looking back I can see that the words planted deep in my heart by my mom and grandparents did their work, even when I couldn't see it.
“You are so talented.” “You are smart.” “You have pretty hands and beautiful dimples.” “You are loved.” “You can do it—the good plans God has for you.”
Even at times when the words (or unspoken demands) of the world assaulted, they couldn't get to me completely.
Mark Batterson is quoted as saying, “We don't see the world as it is. We see the world as we are.” I'd like to add something to that...
We see the world as we are, and we know who we are because those we love told us: again and again and again.
Our kids need our time and attention. They need are faith and our smiles. But equally important they need our words. They need us to point out their strengths and to praise their efforts. Our kids need to know—deep down—that we are thankful that God created them, just as they are.
The world will have a few ideas of who our children should be: thin, intelligent, neat, creative, athletic, musical … and if we let those voices pound in, all our children will see is that they fall short.
Yet with God there is no falling short.
With God there is only “just right.” With God are children are “enough.” Remind your child of that today, and tomorrow, too. And when the world's voices come there will be no place for them, since you've already filled up your child's heart, one gentle whisper at a time.
Tricia Goyer, TriciaGoyer.com