This post was originally written for The Whatever Girls blog. To view the original post, click here.
A teenager in my life is a committed vegetarian. She’s a yogurt in the morning, veggie burger for lunch, and salad for dinner kind of girl. If she kept a food diary she would put us all to shame with her sensible portions and 6-servings per day of fruits and vegetables.
However, she’s a vegetarian because she’s secretly scared. Scared of gaining weight. Scared of losing her reputation. Scared of losing power over her life. And scared of hurting herself through anorexia. As she told me, “If I’m a vegetarian, I don’t have to control all the food. I just have to control the meat.” In other words, she’s choosing to eliminate meat so she doesn’t eliminate food altogether.
Our kids spend so much energy trying to feel secure. They can make compromises to feel better about themselves, without truly overcoming their struggles.
“I’ll only drink on weekends, and I’ll never drink and drive when I’ve had too much.”
“Making out with my boyfriend keeps him happy—at least we’re not having sex.”
“My faith is personal—I don’t have to embarrass myself talking about Jesus at school.”
“I get paid this week—I can put money back in mom’s wallet and she’ll never know I ‘borrowed’ it.”
“I spent too much on clothes, but it will be worth it when I look amazing.”
“It was just flirting for a little attention—my friend should know I’d never steal his girlfriend.”
“It’s not my fault I had to cheat on the test…my schedule was too busy for studying.”
My vegetarian friend is still afraid. She’s found a way to keep from starving, but she’s afraid.
Is your child afraid, too? Are they depending on money, popularity, a boyfriend or girlfriend, clothes, talent, or good grades to define who they are? How much are they giving, or giving up, to feel wanted and loved?
Jesus doesn’t look at any of that. He loves our kids because he made them—they were his idea before the world was even created. Even though people focus on the externals, he looks at their heart. They don’t have to perform to get his attention. He sees right through the games they play with others and themselves to feel like they matter. He invites them to bring their insecurities to him. He offers a perfect love that gets rid of fear. (1 John 4:18)
Pray deeply and encourage your kids to remember Jesus loves them. When they bring him their fears, mistakes, and self-destruction, he gives peace and forgiveness and life. They can run to him when life gets hard instead of the world’s disappointing substitutes for love. They can find rest from working and trying to feel accepted. Because in Jesus, they are.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)