I love dogs. I counted having at least six different dogs growing up and three more since I have been married. Now I am the proud “Grandparent” of Brewer’s yellow lab, Sadie. I even got to go with him to pick her out. Love, love, love that dog, I enjoy keeping her as well. I recently had to remind Brewer that he had a responsibility to Sadie, just like he would if he had children….he needed to train her…teach her the things she needed to know to be safe and enjoyable and to love her. I love the fact that he got a dog because I knew it would give him a picture of being responsible for something that he cared about and that looked to him for their “well-being!” A really good thing in many ways.
I can’t help but think about when I became a mother and the “overwhelming” responsibility I felt for our kids when they were born. When you have a child, they are yours, your responsibility….helpless and dependent on you for everything. Once you have them you can’t take them back…there is a “No Return” policy…they are yours! Of course…I didn’t want to take them back…..but I had never been a parent and it was one of those things that you could classify as: you don’t know what you don’t know.
I will never forget my mom telling me that I had a responsibility to teach them two very important things….First, you have to teach them how to live in this world….walk, talk, read, write, manners, right from wrong, tie their shoes, drive a car and the list goes on and on. She reminded that I didn’t have to be perfect at it and some things would be taught by trial and error, but make no mistake, I would be the greatest influence in their lives.
The second thing I was responsible for was to teach them how to love themselves. Self-love? What is that? She explained….all people/children are created by God and are special. They are “created in HIS Image”. Loving yourself and valuing who God created you to be will allow you to love Him and others. I remember asking….”How do you teach this?” Her reply was, “You love yourself and allow them to watch it lived out in your life.”
Over the years…while raising our three children, I have seen the real value in teaching them how to love themselves. I am not talking about a self-absorbed, narcissism that breeds selfishness and self-centeredness, but a love and appreciation for the life they have been given. Valuing their gifts both spiritual and physical, their talents….and the fact that they have been given one body, one life….to cherish it…take care of it…..and to celebrate it.
Some people are afraid to tell themselves or teach their kids to love themselves……but that is what God wants us to do. I have found at age 51, that the people who have learned to love and cherish themselves….find it easy to love God and others. They recognize the need to be thankful for how God created them. Scripture talks about the body being a “temple” and taking care of the temple…and in Proverbs 4:23 it teaches, “Above all else guard your heart because everything you do flows from it.” How in the world can we love others if we don’t learn to love ourselves? And, how in the world can we take care of others if we don’t take care of ourselves?
One of the simplest examples I can give you is this: when you fly on an airplane….the flight attendant gives you instructions on what to do in case of an emergency. They tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first….then put it on your kids….there is a great understanding that if you don’t get oxygen….then your kids won’t survive either. Use that example…your kids learn to love themselves and value their lives by watching you love and value yours. You can’t help your kids have the “oxygen of self-love and appreciation” unless you have it first.
Teaching our kids to be their “best friend” has been hard sometimes. AS a parent it was very hard for me to hear them do “negative self-talk!” They don’t see that the negative talk in essence says that they do not like how God created them. I wanted them to see the good…to give themselves the “grace” that Christ extends to them….. God wants us to seek Him and give our best but He doesn’t expect perfection and neither should we. Of course…..giving ourselves excuses and too many outs….can be a tendency we can all fall into….but I have found if you truly love and value the life you have been given…….you value it so much…..You don’t easily fall into the “slacker seat!”
We are our children’s teachers….it is a must that we teach them how to get along in this world and we need to teach Godly “self-love!”
Proverbs 19:8, “Whoever gets sense loves his own soul, he who keeps understanding will discover good!”
Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand, that we should walk in them.”
Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 5:29, “For no one hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.”
John 15:9, “As the Father has loved me, So have I loved you. Abide in my love.”
1 John 3:1, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are.”
One of the greatest things we can do for our kids is to “value” the life we have been given. When you value something, you take care of it and protect it….just as we would put the oxygen mask on ourselves first and then turn and put it on our kids…..we can’t give them something we don’t possess……..