This is the third in a series of posts by Lissy Rienow that will address how, as teenagers, we can learn to be Christians with our families. Read the other posts here:
1. “Encouragement for Teens: Living for Christ at Home”
2. “Loving Your Neighbor Starts With Loving Your Siblings”
3. “Give Me Your Heart.”
4. “The Power of Servant Leadership.”
Solomon writes to his son in Proverbs 23 saying, “My son, give me your heart.” For many teenagers this sounds strange. What does it mean to “give our heart” to our parents?
The truth is that one of the most vital pieces of any parent child relationship is heart connection. Heart connection produces a relationship filled with warmth, openness, honesty, and trust. Your parents want this kind of relationship with you. As teenagers, in many ways we dictate how much of our hearts we give to our parents. However, sharing our hearts with our parents is hard to do!
If God calls us to give our hearts to our parents then why is it so difficult to talk to them or share what’s going on in our lives? Imagine this scenario. You’re coming home from youth group and the second you walk in the door your mom says, “How was youth group tonight?” My automatic response is to give the shortest answer possible and avoid a long conversation.
Why is it so much easier to share what’s going on in my life with my friends, mentors, or even teachers? I know my parents love me and want what’s best for me so why is it so hard to let them into my life? The world would say this is a normal part of adolescence and that we should not pursue a close relationship with our parents. I would argue that this is a spiritual attack on our heart connection with our parents.
Your parents are called by God to point you to Christ and therefore they have the most influence over your heart. When the parent and child are connected, there is little that the enemy can do to tear that child away from God. Which is why the enemy will do everything in his power to keep you from sharing your heart with your parents.
For many of us, we wish to give our hearts to our parents but the essential question is how? First of all, we must pray and ask God to soften our hearts toward our parents. Then start somewhere! Like anything in life, the more you practice sharing your life with your parents the more it will seem normal and natural. This could be something as small as giving your parents real answers when they ask questions about your life. Tell your parents when you feel stressed or anxious. Build the habit of asking your parents to pray for you as well as asking how you can pray for them. Learn to forgive fully and often. One of the most destructive elements of relationships is holding on to past hurts. It is so easy to harbor a spirit of bitterness and unforgiveness towards our parents. We must ask God to give us a heart of forgiveness in order to rebuild heart connection with our parents.
Perhaps one of the most difficult areas of our lives to share with our parents is romantic relationships. As a girl, I always found it much easier to talk to my mom about relationships than my dad. To be perfectly honest, the idea of telling my dad who I liked or asking him for relationship advice made me feel so awkward. However, a few years ago, God convicted me that I needed to be giving my heart to my dad when it came to relationships. I remember the first time I tried to talk to him about it I had this horrible pit in my stomach. Yet after we talked and I shared my heart, the sense of love and closeness that I felt towards my dad was overwhelming. To be honest, even after that first conversation, talking to my dad about boys didn’t get any easier. For about a year I felt that pit in my stomach before every conversation. But because I started practicing early, now our relationship is at the point where I feel comfortable sharing anything about my life with him especially in regards to boys and relationships.
Looking back now, I can see the spiritual attack as the enemy would repeatedly try and keep me away from sharing my heart with my dad. The reason for this is our fathers are our spiritual authority and Satan will do everything in his power to keep our hearts as far away from each other as possible. It is important to be aware of this as we must consciously make an effort to give our hearts to our parents in all areas of our life.
I would like to conclude by saying that this is not easy. However, my encouragement is to start today! Learning to give your heart to your parents will benefit your relationship with them for the rest of your life. We must continually ask God to soften our hearts towards our parents. For me, praying something like this throughout the day is really beneficial.
Lord, soften my heart towards my parents. Please help me to give them my heart even when it is hard and I don’t want to. I pray against any spiritual attack on our relationship and that you would fill my heart with openness and love towards my parents. Amen.