I have found in all aspects of life, be they spiritual, practical, emotional, professional, developmental, or relational, that it is the foundational principles that provide the strongest and most stable supports for any host of perplexing questions. About two months ago during my time with the Lord I sensed His Spirit whispering to me in prayer one morning,
Change to Love
Love to Change.
I understood that this simple truth is a guiding principal for nurturing our children and husbands and everyone else the Lord places in our lives! This freeing principal is so inexpressibly helpful and hopeful, that I have to pass it on!!! I believe it to be TIMELESS and AGE-INDEPENDENT!
Let me explain what I understand it to mean:
- My goal in any relationship is primarily to LOVE, NOT primarily to change the other person!
- The path to this goal of love requires a change INSIDE of me! I must change in order to love them; it is NOT my goal or job to love them in order to change them!
I remember the feeling of being deeply worried and distraught one day, when one of our young adult daughters was living on the streets with her boyfriend. In prayer I asked the Lord, "show me how to help her." The answer came back clearly, in 4 words:
IT'S NOT YOUR JOB!
Surprised, I asked, "Then what is my job?"
And this answer was only 2 words:
So I did. We talked every day or 2 for the 3 years she was on the streets, and I would pray for her, and often say, "I know who you are; you are kind, loving, compassionate, beautiful, and have a real heart for the Lord. You are not living like who you are, but I know who you are, and I believe someday you will make the choice to live like the person God made you to be. Do you want me to pray for you before we hang up?" And the answer was almost always, "Yes, mommy."
Through a series of miraculous circumstances, this sweet daughter was indeed rescued off the streets over a year ago and is going so well. In fact, I have been on and off the phone with her all day about celebrating her 23rd birthday in several days! Here is the picture of her getting the shoes she had been longing for as a Christmas present. She was so happy about the gift that she cried when she received it!
As children adopted by the Lord ourselves, we recall that Jesus Himself "changed to love."
He changed by leaving heaven's glory. He who was rich beyond all splendor, entered earth's humble and broken realm, "all for love's sake became poor." In that oft-quoted passage from Ephesians 1:5 His goal was to love us. "In love, He adopted us!" Or John 3:16, "God so LOVED the world that He gave..." Or I John 4, "In this is love, not that we loved God but that God loved us!"
And that amazing thing I have observed, unexpectedly, is that when our primary GOAL is to pass on to our children the love we receive from our Father, and from Jesus who is Emmanuel, and from His Spirit who is our Friend and Counselor, eventually they do CHANGE!
The PictureSo, here is our family acting out the Christmas play, as is our custom over the years.
What I love about it is the diversity birthed by Abounding Love --a love that is learning to replace criticism with prayer, offense with forgiveness, disappointment with hope, and most of all, to replace my changing them with my loving them.
Happy New Year to each and every one of you! And may this be a year where each of us, every day, lives out this prayer:
Today, Lord Jesus, change me so that I may love them well, that I may love them the way You love me! To love them as if they are You! To love them the way our heavenly Father loves You! Amen and Amen and Amen!