“If you want to have good friends (and teach your daughter how to have good friendships), you need to be a good friend. If you wish others would extend an invitation, be the first to invite. Scottish pastor Alistair Begg once said, “The love of God is an initiative-taking love; in fact, genuine love always takes the initiative.” Though it feels intimidating, and may trigger our fears of rejection and pride, this is the reality of where friendship begins. Someone needs to initiate. If you want to be friends with someone, I would challenge you to believe that God is asking you to take a step forward in faith.”
Living with grace means that we not only offer it to others, but that we also offer it to ourselves! This can be a difficult thing to do, even when we quickly offer grace to others. It is also very difficult for our girls to do for themselves. Yet, we are loved fiercely by God. He exemplified the length He was willing to go to for us when Jesus died on the cross. If His love for us means He was willing to die for us, then I imagine it would hurt God to hear all the negative things we say to ourselves, even if only in our heads.
Ask yourself this: If a friend made a mistake or experienced failure, what would my reaction be? Would you respond to that friend with phrases like, “You’re horrible at that! Why do you even try? How stupid! You will never get it!”
I doubt it.
Most likely, we would encourage a friend with words of affirmation and offers of help: “Are you okay? Let’s work together on that. You’ve got this! You can do it!”
What can we do to start sharing grace with ourselves and how can we help teach our daughters to do it as well? One way to do this is to write a few positive messages to yourself (short, encouraging phrases) that you can tape on your door or mirror, anywhere that you will see them daily. Encourage your daughter to do it as well. It might feel unauthentic at first, but if we practice re-wording what we say to ourselves daily, eventually our brains will re-set and start believing something better, too. Remind your daughter that you want to know when she is feeling the emotions so that you can help her re-phrase the negative thoughts and replace them with affirming truths that we can get straight from God’s word in the Bible. If you need help knowing where to look, start by turning to Romans 8:31-35, Colossians 3:15 or Philippians 4:13.
Emotions are like trains — they move quickly and can be powerful — especially when experienced by tween or teenage girls! One day they can be fully in-check and regulated, and the very next day they may veer off track or even run you over.
We need to teach our girls (and remember ourselves) that emotions do not control us; rather, they can help guide us toward a more authentic version of ourselves and to a deeper connection to God and others. Calmly and gently teach your girl to breathe through her strong emotions and to simultaneously ask God to help her understand what is at the root of the emotion.
A powerful lesson we can teach our girls is that unlike emotions, God’s love and care for us is CONSTANT! It does not change; it is un-movable, regardless of how we are feeling in the moment. It is STEADY! Let’s teach our girls how to find the quiet space (even in the midst of big emotions) and ask for help – both from caring individuals and from God. Let’s empower them with a foundation of faith – faith that supersedes feelings; faith in a God who calms stormy seas and even conducts locomotive trains!