“I’d give anything to be inside his head for one second!”
I’ll never forget hearing my friend say this about her son, who like many of our children, just isn’t a talker. Most of the time, she really has no clue what he is thinking, or what’s really going on in his life. And it drives her CRAZY.
And then there are our kids who tell us everything. Maybe more than we really even care to know at times. Stuff we often would rather not have heard about… drama in relationships, hurts from friends, struggles at school. Information about our kids that awakens the mama bear inside us; tempting us to lash out in defense of our precious cubs. And this information they share, whether solicited or unsolicited, cuts through our hearts – because when our children suffer, we suffer too.
But no matter what kind of child we have, or what age they are - when it comes to the inner workings of their mind and heart, there are secret thoughts they don’t tell you...
Lies about what defines them, what gives them worth, what makes them beautiful and lovable. Lies they hear inside their heads that they may not even be able to articulate, yet still battle – every.single.day.
I decided it was time to do something about this several years ago - after an unexpected encounter with my teenage daughter.
*Note to moms of littles - perhaps the teenage years feel light years away, but don’t stop reading, girl. Your littles are gonna start looking in the mirror sooner than you think. And you, my friend, can impact what they see when they do.
One day I was in my bathroom when my teenage daughter walked in and stepped onto the scale sitting on the floor. As soon as she stepped off she exclaimed, “Mom! I have never weighed ___ pounds before!” Her outcry stunned me. I had never heard her say anything like that about her weight before.
I felt a pit in my stomach as I looked over at her distraught face. My heart raced as I searched for the right words to say. I tried to remain calm, though I was so unsure of what to say. I pulled her in by the shoulders and fixed my gaze intently into her eyes.
Before I spoke I prayed, Lord, help me.
First, I validated her feelings. I didn’t want her to feel ashamed or wrong for the way she felt. I told her I understood how disappointing it must be for her to see a higher number on the scale than she has in the past.
Then, I spoke rationally. I reminded her that she is still growing and developing into a woman. Our bodies change. We get curvier. I reminded her how hard she had been conditioning in softball - more intense workouts than she had even done before, building muscle which changes our body shape and even weight.
I knew that no matter what I said, the lies inside her head were louder than my voice. I knew there were secret thoughts she was thinking; lies she was buying into about her beauty and worth. She was equating the sum of her worth with her weight in pounds – as if her value had anything to do with some silly number on a scale.
I remembered a quote by Maura Byrne,
“The definition of beautiful doesn’t require the word skinny.”
Tragically for so many of our children – both girls and boys - skinny is required in their definition of beautiful.
In that encounter with my daughter, I became acutely aware of the battle waging – not only at that moment, but the battle that is waged every day against our children’s self image (and our husband’s and our own). There is a Liar who seeks to destroy their understanding of their true identity – their priceless value and worth - in Jesus Christ.
I felt so helpless in that moment. I knew the truth, but how could I convince my precious girl of the truth about what makes her lovable, beautiful and worthy?
Suddenly the surge of a warrior spirit rose up within me, one I can only attribute to the power of the Holy Spirit. Maybe my daughter didn’t recognize the battle she was entering.
But her mama did.
I was equipped with the truth about this child of mine. And the time came for me to start engaging in the battle for her.
I could fight.
I could go deeper in prayer for her, using my most powerful weapon. I prayed for her that she would know in the depths of her being her true identity in Christ. And I began teaching her how to use this weapon as well - the holy and inspired Word of God.
St. Paul tells us that the Word of God has a power that our own words simply don’t.
“See, the Word of God is alive! It is at work and is sharper than any double-edged sword — it cuts right through to where soul meets spirit and joints meet marrow, and it is quick to judge the inner reflections and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, CJB)
You may be reading this and thinking to yourself, Thank goodness I don’t have a teenage daughter yet! Or, this doesn’t seem relatable to me right now. Perhaps you’re just trying to get your little girl to sleep through the night, or learn how to pee on the potty. If this doesn’t seem relevant to you or your child yet, I can assure you one day it will be.
Dear friend, now is the time for you to start praying for your beautiful child to see themselves as just that - a beautiful and beloved child of God!
That day in the bathroom as I struggled for the right words, I was inspired to take hold of God’s Word and claim it for my daughter. I wrote a prayer for her, a collection of scriptures that speak to more than “positive self-image” - these scriptures reveal our “true identity in Christ”.
I started praying those scriptures - not only for her - but for all my kids, including my younger daughter, who was only 7 years old at the time. And how I wish I started praying these truths over them from the time I first cradled them in my arms!
I’ve also prayed these scriptures for myself.
I want to share this prayer of scriptures with you too. (as a free downloadable prayer page*) Designed for you to print and pray, you can tuck it into your MPC, your Bible, a journal, or simply set it by your bed.
I encourage you to begin praying this prayer today.
As moms, how often have we pulled a blanket over our child when they're sick or asleep, to keep them safe and warm. (I just did this the other day - for my 19 year old son!) As you pray these scriptures "over" your children, you're covering them with God's blanket of protection.
And remember, these aren't your human words; they're God's Divine Words, alive and at work! As you insert the name of your child, your husband, or yourself in each scripture, imagine the Lord sinking His healing truth deep down into every void; saturating them (and you) with His all-consuming love.
Jesus knows the secret lies they don’t tell you. He knows the secret lies you struggle with yourself.
Pray these scriptures with confidence and let the Lord penetrate every lie with the power of His love and truth!
“For the Lord your God is going with you. He will fight for you against your enemies, and He will give you victory!” (Deuteronomy 20:4)