Every single one of us is born into this world with three big questions.
And we all have a hunger and a longing to find the answers to those questions, including our kids. God’s desire and plan is for those questions to be answered within the loving context of the family.
That’s where we come in, mamas (and dads). When I first heard the riveting testimony of former NFL football player Joe Ehrmann, he talked about these three basic questions and how he’d grown up hearing all the wrong answers. I knew then that I desperately needed to have the “right” answers for myself. Because I was going to be giving those answers to my kids.
Who am I?
Who will love me?
What is my purpose?
Long before we ever have the capacity to actually hear the right answers to those questions from God Himself, we’re supposed to hear them from our parents.
When a baby is born, their eyes can’t focus very far. They can only fix their gaze on an object between 8 to 15 inches away. Because by God’s design, that’s the EXACT span of distance between a mother’s face and her baby’s face when she cradles and nurses them in her arms.
I heard a professor in college describe the profound significance of this and what happens within a mother’s embrace:
“Within the eyes of a mother, a child discovers who they are.”
That means we start answering those three fundamental questions for our children from the moment they are born!
Who am I? You are a precious child of God. You are my child. You are worthy of love. (1 John 3:1)
Who will love me? I love you. But even if I forget you, your Father will never forget you. He loves you with an everlasting love. (Isaiah 49:15; Jeremiah 31:3)
What is my purpose? God created you out of love, and He created you for love. He destined you for a special purpose. (Ephesians 2:10)
“Man cannot live without love… his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him,
if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own,
if he does not participate intimately in it.” (St. John Paul II)
Those three fundamental questions of identity can be summed up in this: We were made by Love for love. We were made to love and be loved!
I have come back to this simple truth over and over again. I continue to remind myself of this truth. And I continue to remind my children the very same thing. I don’t think we or they can ever hear it enough.
A few months ago, I was preparing to give a talk to a large group of moms at a local church. I became consumed with anxiety. Why? Fear. Fear of failure. Fear of not having what it takes. Fear of rejection. Even though I wasn’t conscious of it, those three questions were swirling in my head. Who am I? (Am I capable of this?) Who will love me? (Will they like it?) What is my purpose? (Why am I even doing this? What if I fail?)
The morning of the event, my husband looked me in the eyes and said, “Jenny, lately whenever I have to give a presentation, I’ve started doing something. As soon as I’m done, no matter how I did, I speak these three words from the Lord over myself: ‘You are loved.’”
He continued, “I want you to say those same words to yourself as you walk off that stage this morning. Because no matter how perfectly or imperfectly you “perform”, the Lord has the very same message for you: ‘You are loved.’ That’s it, Jenny. No matter what, you are always LOVED.
Two weeks ago, my twenty year-old son was preparing to get on a plane to Rome for a four week internship. On the other side of the Atlantic, he would meet a team of 17 other students from around the United States. He didn’t know a single one of them, yet he’d be living and working with these strangers for a month.
He too was anxious about his “performance”. I could sense the deeper questions swirling as he wondered out loud, “What if I don’t do a good job? What if the other interns are way smarter than me? What if my business mentors aren’t impressed with my work?” I could hear the same familiar fears in his voice. Fear of failure. Fear of not having what it takes. Fear of rejection.
So I shared the very same thing his dad had recently shared with me. Then I concluded, “No matter how this internship goes, Kolbe, the same truth still stands at the end. You are loved. No matter what, you are always LOVED.”
I could see the relief in his face as he smiled. “Thanks, mom. I’m gonna remember that.”
We all need to remember that.
WHO AM I
See the great love I have lavished on you, that you should be called My child.
(1 John 3:1)
WHO WILL LOVE ME
I will never forget you. I have loved you with an everlasting love.
(Isaiah 49:15; Jeremiah 31:3)
WHAT IS MY PURPOSE
Love one another as I have loved you.
You are my masterpiece… created to do the good things I planned for you long ago.
(John 13:34; Ephesians 2:10)