Today we were riding in the car, in the rain, headed home from gym. Each of them engrossed in whatever book they were reading and the Tiny one giving herself her own spelling test. I turned off the radio and announced that we were going to have Bible study in the car today. That is my way of getting them to pay attention to what I am talking about because they think this will mean less book work at home. Home school mom for the win. They are 9 and 10 and 5 or rather 6. And though the days are long, the years seem to be skipping numbers somehow. And I remember. Remember what it was like to be their ages. When words like "stupid" and "not popular" and "fat" and "weird" started making their way to the surface, filling my head with lies and taking away whatever confidence I had in the moment. In other words, I remember when I met the devil.
So I start with a question for each of them. "Name two negative things you think about yourself" I say. Without going into full detail I'll sum it up. The 9 year old struggles with telling herself that she isn't very smart, and the 10 year old feels inferior to her sister because she struggles with fear and doesn't like her hair....and who could blame her about the hair thing, I mean we have all seen Presley's hair. Just to be clear, I asked them all and the 6 year old feels like she is rude because she doesn't always like the clothes we pick. I appreciated her honesty. There I was in the rain, driving, and thinking to myself "this is exactly how the enemy does it". GO AWAY DEVIL, JESUS SAYS YOU'RE WRONG!!!!
I took a few deep breaths, trying not to hyperventilate and trying to figure out how a child as bright as Presley feels dumb and one as bold as Kat thinks she lacks courage (and let's give it to her, the kid also has great hair!!). I pictured them, the way I see them, and I wanted to tell them over and over again how wrong they were. But what mom's say doesn't always count does it? So instead I asked them.
"Presley, when you look at Kat how do you best like her hair?"
"Kat when you think of kids Presley's age, how do you rate Presley on intelligence?"
"Presley, would you characterize Kat as brave?"
I want you to know that we are not a family that blows smoke, so this could easily backfire if you're not certain what the answers will be!!! In this case, I knew what was coming.
"Down mom, I love Kat's hair down. She should always wear it down."
"Brave, she's very brave"
"Top of the list mom, she's one of the smartest people I know".
And you could see it in their faces, a stark reminder of what positive words do to a child's heart. I didn't say anything for a few minutes. Just let it sink it. And then I moved forward.
I drove on and quoted scripture after scripture. Showing them how the bible relates to all of their fears and doubts. Actually, that part is a lie. I quoted zero scripture. Mostly because I was driving and my bible app wasn't handy. And honestly, "Siri quote scripture on what Jesus says about self doubt" seemed like it would kill the moment. Just keeping it real. Instead I gave them seven simple words. GO AWAY DEVIL, JESUS SAYS YOU'RE WRONG. I explained to them that all of the negative thoughts are from the devil. Clearly, I realize there is power in the word of God and memorized scripture would come in handy here. But honestly, there is more power in the name of Jesus than they will ever need and so my lack of knowledge didn't hurt me as badly as you'd think.
I explained to them that there is a great plan for their life and the devil is trying to spoil it any way he can. That if they don't combat the lies, they will not stay the course that the Lord has ahead. I was honest, explained where I feel inferior and watched as they thought how ridiculous I sounded. I used that to further my point. I was real and vulnerable and all the time pleading with Jesus that they would hear me. "Use the words" I told them. When you think those thoughts say "Go away devil, Jesus says your wrong". When you hear your friend say something ugly about themselves, use the words. Teach them to your friends. Say them for your sisters, build them up. The world needs more light, I explained. They smiled as I got louder and more passionate because, well because I am loud and passionate and it makes them giggle. But they heard me.
I wish there were 20 more kids their age riding in that van listening. I ask you to tell your kids the same. They don't have to be my words, but give them some to use. This world is dark and our society as a whole is superficial and flawed at is very foundation that is built on nothing but greed and vanity. Media is ruining our children, teaching them that perfection is expected and reachable through filters and television that skews reality. Tell your children that it's all a lie!! Tell them that they are in fact wonderfully made by a Creator that expects them to fail and loves them anyway. Teach them to combat the lies in their head with the One thing that will beat the devil every time. I recommend waiting until you have them cornered and maybe even bribing them to listen, whatever works for your family. Just tell them, tell them to say it loud and clear and often "GO AWAY DEVIL, JESUS SAYS YOU'RE WRONG!!!"