and to mutual affection, love… (2 Pe 1:7).
Last night I had the privilege of speaking to a group of teenage girls. After the message, a few girls wanted to talk.
“Heather, I saw my step-dad beat my mom. Now I feel like even though her new boyfriend is a nicer guy, I need to protect her. I hate my step-dad. I’m so angry at him for what he did to my mom.”
“Sometimes my mom gets drinks a lot and I worry about her.”
“Boys keep pressuring me for sex.”
“My mom told me that she hates me.”
One young girl was weeping for nearly an hour after I spoke. I cannot even begin to imagine the deep burden she is carrying. She was not ready to share. My heart breaks for her. My prayer is that she’ll bring out whatever she’s dealing with into the light so that she might be set free.
There are many burdens that we carry in life. Some of them are burdens we’ve carried for far too long. They are messages written upon our hearts that seek to destroy our freedom in Christ. They are messages that keep us in bondage. They affect how we relate to and deal with people. As I was talking with one of the young girls I said to her, “You have to forgive your step-dad. He may never come to you and ask for your forgiveness, but for your own heart, you have to forgive him and set it free. God cares about your heart and the anger you hold towards him is only destroying you. You’ve got to set it free. Lay it down at the feet of Jesus, it’s not a burden you were meant to carry.”
Until we deal rightly with our own brokenness it becomes someone else’s. This is vitally important that as adults we seek healing for our own lives so that we don’t spray unnecessary carnage on the hearts of those we love the most. The other day, I was speaking with a friend whose daughter has taken a few bad turns. I said to her, do you think before something changes in her heart that it needs to change in yours first? I cannot even begin to tell you how life-changing it is for a child to see their parent stand firm in their faith and overcome their own struggles. Now, I’m not saying we should place blame on ourselves if our children are making bad decisions, but I think the question is worth considering. God knows each individual and their heart. As I told my friend, maybe it’s not the case, but all of us need to be brave in asking those questions of ourselves, knowing there’s no shame in it, but instead, there’s freedom there.
A life centered on selfishness and perfectionism will hide behind steel plated bars of protection. The life that is ready to say, “I’m done with hiding, I want to be free” finds new life. As I told the girls last night, “We have to pray for something to change in your parent’s heart. You cannot save them, only God’s love can. Pray with all your might for God to reach in and change their hearts so that His love would fill it instead of the alcohol, anger, and men.” Love changed the world on Calvary over 2,000 years ago and now the love of God remains the only true thing that can change the brokenness we see in our world. Oh Lord, may we be people who bring your love to the ends of the earth, in Jesus name!
Lord, our world is so broken. We desperately need your love to fill our hearts. Fill us please we pray. Be our joy. Jesus, reach down into our most broken places and make us new. To the girls, I spoke with last night, set them all free by our love in Jesus name, Amen.