Becoming an ally to your child in a sexualized culture will require a little soul-searching. Last week we looked at some common obstacles we will face on this journey. We all have wounds; we’ve all made mistakes; none of us feels totally equipped for this important role. We can avoid conversations with our loved ones out of fear or shame. Perhaps God has shown you some specific things that are keeping you trapped, unable to live authentically with those you love. To move forward, Jesus is asking you to go a little deeper with Him to find His healing grace.
Our deepest, unresolved struggles are usually rooted in lies that infiltrated our thoughts and beliefs a long time ago. As children, we all experienced emotions such as hurt, humiliation, fear, sadness, or any number of things. Many of us also experienced the pain of abuse, abandonment, rejection, or other deep wounds. For children, perception is reality. Our experiences naturally result in a unique set of assumptions or beliefs that we “file away” with the memory of that experience. As we grow up, these beliefs can impact the way we view ourselves, the world, others, and God. We can easily carry false beliefs into adulthood that continue to impact the way we think and interact with others.
I have struggled with fear for most of my life. Fear is a natural emotion that can be useful, e.g., if a lion is approaching! But my fear was deep, stealthy, and debilitating, resulting in an unhealthy need to control. Years ago I asked God to reveal its roots, and He did. I remembered a billboard I saw as a child. It was a simple graphic depicting a mom, a dad, and some kids – except that several family members were greyed out due to a drunk driver. Seeing that billboard struck such fear in me! Perception is reality to a child, and the reality for me was that at any moment a drunk driver could kill someone I loved. I don’t remember talking with my parents about it, but I internalized some false beliefs that I’ve had to work through with God.
When we experience emotional pain, the feelings that result are real. In that moment, lies are often “filed away” with the wound. Because the pain is real, we believe the lies. Time goes on, and the lies can become a script that we repeat to ourselves in weak or vulnerable moments: “I’m unlovable,” “God has forgotten me,” or “I have to perform to be accepted.” We may even remember actual words spoken over us: “It’s all your fault, “You can’t tell anyone,” or “You’re a disgrace.” Remember, to a child, perception is reality.
Think about your own wounds. Picture yourself as a child or teen in that moment. Now that you’re an adult, you can begin to separate the lie from the pain and find better, more truthful or helpful words to associate with the hurt or wound. It won’t erase the memory, but it can free you from the bondage it has created.
It’s not just wounds or emotional pain that can leave us believing lies and living inauthentically. Regret, shame, unmet desires, disappointments – virtually anything can be used by the enemy of our souls to keep us hiding or wounded. But God can turn our wounds into stepping stones to His healing grace and deeper intimacy with Him and others. Believing God and living out of His truth is important if you want to become an ally to your kids.
What follows is a very practical exercise that I call “soul-searching with Jesus.” Take your time with this. If you feel a resistance, that could be a sign that it’s important. If you find it’s too difficult to do on your own, you might consider talking with a more mature believer or a Christian counselor.
Begin with prayer. There is a spiritual battle raging, and Satan desperately wants to keep you from the truth. But God is faithful to provide exactly what’s needed for your journey with Him. Trust Him, and follow these steps:
- Ask God to reveal the root of any issue, wound, or pain that He wants to heal. You will likely think of something very specific. It may seem minor, or it may be very significant. Resist the urge to brush it aside. Keep praying for clarity. Write down in just a few words what God shows you.
- Think about what caused the issue, wound, or pain. Could it be your own sin, the effects of living in a fallen world, someone else’s sin against you, or the world’s messaging? Write this down.
- Ask God to reveal any false beliefs associated with your issues or pain. What lies or half-truths did you internalize that you still struggle with? Prayerfully consider whether these lies have resulted in false identity statements or unhealthy lifestyle patterns. Write these down.
- Ask God to help you apply His truth to every lie or false identity statement. Look for specific scriptures. Read the first chapter of Ephesians which reveals a believer’s identity in Christ. Write out your newfound truths and memorize them to recall when the lies surface again. Romans 12:2 says to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. God’s Word will transform you!
Here are some examples of how this might work:
- Issue/wound/pain: I carry shame over my promiscuity as a teen.
- Cause: My sin.
- False beliefs/lifestyle patterns: I’m damaged goods, useless. I try to get the attention of men because I need their affirmation.
- What does God say? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “I am chosen by God” (Ephesians 1:4).
Consider a young boy whose mom died. Death is a result of living in a fallen world, but in this boy’s attempt to guard his heart, he might decide he shouldn’t love deeply because he might get hurt again. Scripture related to God’s love, sovereignty, faithfulness, and healing will transform his wounded heart.
The fear I struggled with as a child has been replaced with truth. 1 John 4:18 says, “…perfect love casts out fear.” I remind myself often of God’s perfect love, and because of that, I have nothing to fear.
If you don’t find your answers right away, trust God to reveal them as you seek Him and spend time in His Word. If you have unconfessed sin in your life, begin with confession. If you harbor any unforgiveness in your heart, ask God to give you His perspective and power to forgive.
God is a personal, loving, all-seeing, all-knowing God. He has been with you through every moment of your life and will continue to provide for you. He will bring healing grace to your difficult or painful memories, redeeming them for His purposes and His glory. He delights in the truth.
I believe one of your greatest responsibilities as a parent is to lead your children to a wholesome, God-honoring view of their sacred sexuality and through the journey, become their trusted ally. Soul-searching and applying God’s truth will help equip you. He is your provider, and He is trustworthy.
If you’re just joining in the Ally Series, find earlier posts and subscribe here. Next week we will begin to share some very practical steps you can take with your children to become their ally, whether they’re toddlers or teens!
If you’re finding this series helpful, please share it! Thank you! If you’re read for more, here’s a link to Part 6.
Founder and CEO of TrueNorth Freedom Project in Atlanta, Georgia
Photo credit: Joseph Gonzalez