Recently I came across a post on Facebook where a friend was asking for advice on teenage boys and dating. Her question was simple: “Do you let your teen girls text guys first or do you tell them to wait to be pursued?”
Having teenage daughters and a tween boy, my curiosity was piqued. As I browsed through dozens of responses from boy moms lamenting the immorality this generation of young girls seems to flaunt, one particular response caught my eye.
“We teach our boys to identify and avoid girls who text/call first because they usually have “daddy issues.”
I won’t lie to you, my heart sank and a sick feeling rushed over me, as I have two daughters with “daddy issues.” I had to resist the urge to fight for them, screaming out the injustice of such judgement (picture mama bear irrationally thrashing about, haha).
The whole exchange ran circles in my mind for days. Do moms really say this to kids? How can people think this way about innocent girls who didn’t choose the life given to them and did nothing to deserve the “daddy issues” life has handed them? Will they really be shunned by the mothers of potential mates because they don’t have the “perfect life?”
But most importantly, why on earth are we punishing young girls who can’t control their fathers instead of coming alongside them and showing them what real love looks like?
The more I thought about this, the more I understood something my very wise pastor once said while preaching about Jesus’ anointing. “We’re all broken. Some of us are just not yet aware of it.” In fact, it’s often those of us who are the least AWARE of our brokenness who are the most broken.
Those standing around passing judgement on the behaviors of others are the very ones with the most glaring brokenness. They simply are too busy judging to notice their own sins. We see this plainly displayed in the story of Jesus’ anointing at Bethany (Luke 7:36-50). Jesus not only exonerates Mary, He scolds Simon for his pious and ungrateful behavior toward Jesus as a guest. Instead of recognizing his own need for Jesus, Simon was too busy pointing out the sins of others.
The Real Truth About Brokenness
Being a woman who refused to acknowledge the label of “single mom” for nearly 4 years after my husband left, I can tell you that I fully understand the stigma of accepting the label of “brokenness.” I know the glares. I’ve overheard the comments. And yes, I’ve been the victim of more assumptions regarding my life than I’d like to admit.
I often kid when I say I can relate to Hester Prynne’s scarlet letter A, but the truth is, there’s a little part of me that really does feel as though I’ll never again be seen as the girl I always wanted to be. A part of me will always mourn the fact that I grew up in a broken home, experienced many of those “statistics” that go along with it, and found myself in the same situation as an adult.
But there’s also a part of me that fully believes my pastor was right. We’re all broken and desperately in need of a Savior. I pray I never again find myself standing on the outside of a situation passing judgement, as I’ve personally learned how desperately we ALL need God’s grace for our moments.
Grace is a gift we can’t afford to miss… which brings me to the point of this post. As my children grow up in the midst of this broken and messy life, I want to impart to them the wisdom I wish I had years ago.
Dear Children, I’m glad life is messy
I’m writing because I want you to know one very important thing: I’m glad your life is messy.
Now don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying I’m glad you’re one of the statistics labeled “broken home.”
I’m not saying I laughed when you chased the brake lights, begging daddy to stay before collapsing on the concrete.
I’m not saying it brought a smile to my face to rock you to sleep when you cried uncontrollably or when I wiped your tears after other kids bullied you for not having the coolest clothes and toys.
I’m not saying I didn’t cry after cleaning up the chemo-induced vomit in the middle of the night. Or that the tubes, MRIs, and incessant beeping of machines in the PICU didn’t sometimes make it hard to keep standing upright.
In fact, I’d wouldn’t wish any of those things on my worst enemy.
And yet I’m saying I’m glad your life has been messy.
I’m glad you know what it’s like to walk through the fire while holding on to Christ. I’m glad you know how to trust God when there isn’t enough food. I’m glad you know how to seek comfort in Christ when you watch the other dads take their kids on the campouts and fishing trips.
I’m glad you’ve had the blessing of struggle, so you can understand your desperate need for God and His unfathomable love for you.
And I’m glad you’ve been saved from the false God of the “perfect life.”
Because the truth is, when we think we can make life work well on our own, we find little need for the God our heart is desperate to know. And worse than that, when we think we have it all together, we tend to spend less time working on our own character and more time judging the actions of others.
4 truths I want you to hold dear to your heart:
—> Brokenness is sweet. It’s true most of the struggles in life cause pain, but they also bring with them one of the sweetest things you’ll ever have: time with Jesus. Psalm 34:18 promises the Lord is close to the brokenhearted. We see this in the lives of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they were thrown into the fiery furnace.
God didn’t keep the FIRE from happening to them, instead He sent Jesus to walk through it with them. What a sweet blessing they would have totally missed if they didn’t have to walk through the fire.
—> Brokenness is a gift. Yeah, I know this is the opposite of what the world tells you, but they’re pretty much always wrong anyway. The truth is, brokenness is how Jesus saved us (Isaiah 53:3). We also see examples of God allowing His people to struggle throughout the Bible so He can teach them and mold them. Remember, He is the potter and we are the clay (Isaiah 64:8).
Oh, and last but not least, brokenness is a gift we can GIVE, too. Psalm 51:10 tells us that a broken heart and spirit is a gift we can give to God. It shows our true repentance when we have sinned.
—> Brokenness allows the light of Christ to shine through you and it’s beautiful. It’s true what they say. You can’t make a broken vessel the exact way it was before. Think of it like a vase. Once it’s cracked, you can never glue it back together in a way that would keep it from accidentally letting water seep through. But, oh, don’t you see the beauty in that? Through the broken places in your life, the LIGHT of Jesus seeps right through you and shines on others!
—> Brokenness breeds grace and gives you the opportunity to reach out to those around you who are hurting. Often, it’s your life experiences that will help you see the needs of others and understand their heart, instead of judging them the way others may. Use this beautiful gift to comfort others the way you have been comforted, as it tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7.
My dear child, I know this seems so opposite of what others may tell you, but I pray you will hear my words. Like the woman who poured oil on Jesus’ feet in Luke 7, be an example for those who have yet to see their own brokenness for what it is. God will use your faith in mighty ways as you grow.
But most of all, know that as your mother it’s a joy to watch God work in your lives the kind of good that displays His glory in the same kind of magnificent splendor Christians before you have known. May they inspire you to press on and…
All the while knowing that God is ONLY and ALWAYS good, even in the brokenness!
Navigating the Messy Life with Your Kids
I can’t leave this post without a few final thoughts for parents. I pray this post has helped you see the critical need we have to TALK to our kids about life’s issues and help them see God working in their lives no matter what circumstances your family faces. But I’m also aware that sometimes we need resources to help us “create” ways to have these conversations in a more intentional way.
Here are some of our favorite resources to help you with the hard conversations:
We absolutely LOVE to read the stories of missionaries around the world. There is no better way to truly see God working in someone’s life than to take a step back and look at the big picture. It’s also a beautiful way to see the reality of struggles and how messy life can be EVEN if you dedicate your life to God.
Biographies have won a special place in the heart of our family. In fact, we love these stories so much we created a full curriculum, To Every Nation, to dig deeper. Click below to check it out.
Another very popular item in our house is audio dramas. We love how captivating stories make life’s hard choices come to life in a practical way that doesn’t seem all that impossible once you’ve taken an adventure with beloved characters you can relate to!
Some of our favorites are Lamplighter Theater and Patch the Pirate musical adventures. Just to make it even more memorable, we’ve combined some of the best audio dramas with our children’s Bible study kits to make this super simple for parents to implement.
Last, but quite possibly my favorite, are hymn stories. I started reading the stories behind hymns to my kids many years ago when I first heard the story of “It is Well.” I realized the treasure to be found in understanding the why behind such powerful lyrics. Not to mention, I loved the idea of sharing those lyrics with my kids in a more meaningful way.
If you love the idea, too, check out Still Singing. It’s not just hymn stories, it’s an incredible collection of life lessons coupled with language arts, music theory and so much more!