Speaking love to our kids is not enough. We have to speak these words to ourselves too, and we have to live like we believe it.
This weekend I was in Columbus with fellow blogger Tony Myles, (and my new best friend Dustin) at Kidmin, an awesome national conference for children’s ministry leaders. We had a booth for Lifetree Family and a plan for a little experiment about love. It involved buying 500 red capes with giant hearts on the back to give away to attendees through a 3-minute interactive experience at our booth.
The night before the event I started to worry the experience was disjointed, weird and a waste of time and money. Attendees would probably prefer chocolate instead of capes! I was dreading the cape idea.
But our little experiment turned into something simply epic.
We set up a photo booth in the convention center hallway and called it the “On the Fly” Superhero Devotion. We invited attendees to reclaim their inner superhero by writing something valuable about themselves on a paper heart and pinning it to a banner. Then we put a cape on them and took their photo with a backdrop that said “I Am Enough, because He is Enough.” As we tied their capes around their shoulders for the photos, we spoke the following blessing over them:
“You are a precious, beloved child of the one true King—your origins are epic!
God’s love is the most powerful force in the whole universe
—more than all superhero powers combined!
And His love is in you and flows through you as you live out the greatest mission ever known to mankind:
–to love God and love others.
And on the days that you don’t feel like you’re enough,
Remember that love never fails
and God’s love always covers you.”
We never imagined that people would be so profoundly affected when they heard these words as the cape was laid over their shoulders. They gasped, tears flowed, and they expressed deep gratitude for being reminded of this powerful truth about themselves—how precious and loved they were. Over and over they said “I needed to hear this.” One woman trembled and wept as she told us this was the first time someone had ever looked her in the eyes and told her she was worthy.
Keep in mind these people we caped work in children’s ministry at churches and teach kids about God every week. How had they forgotten this for themselves?
Their heads knew this truth, but their hearts were still hungry for it.
Knowledge obviously does not fill our souls.
God does. And God is love.
We ran out of our giveaway stash of capes in less than a day, but people kept coming anyway. They still wanted to do the experience—to claim their inner superhero with the “I AM” heart, have their photo taken with a cape and hear the blessing spoken over them.
They weren’t longing for the take-home gift, they were longing to be valued and loved.
By the end of the weekend we had “caped” about 700 people. At times the fire marshal had to move the lines of people out of the way. The conference resembled Comic Con—as hundreds of caped attendees wore them proudly all weekend.
This experience reminded me that we, as parents, need to tell this to our kids EVERY DAY.
- Tell them how precious they are, and remind them that they are loved not only by you, but also by God.
- Fill them with a sense of purpose about the importance of our mission to love others.
- Reassure them that they don’t have to earn love by being “good.”
- Explain what unconditional love means, and why Jesus walked on this earth. Because we were all imperfect. And he loved us enough to show us on the cross...
Passing on faith to our kids starts with love.
But this experience also revealed something much deeper…
Parents need to hear this just as much as our kids do!
Speaking love to our kids is not enough.
We have to speak these words to ourselves too, and we have to live like we believe it.
We need to be in community with others who will tell us we are valuable and beloved, and who remind us that God is real, even when we have doubts.
The world is certainly not going to whisper worthiness into our ears. And yet we still orient most of our lives waiting for it to.
Written by: Kami Gilmour